By Kendra Sitton
Photo, left and inside photo: Henderson and Voepel speak after the breakfast
August 9, 2017 (Alpine) -- “Frank asked me to not get political and keep it positive. I'm going to fail him miserably,” said state Assembly member Randy Voepel. He addressed the Alpine Mountain Empire Chamber of Commerce at their monthly Hot Topics Breakfast at the request of Frank Sturnold, the interim executive of the Chamber while a restructuring is underway.
For the audience, Voepel explained that the state Assembly is the equivalent of the House of Representatives at the state level. He also invited anyone to stay at his two-bedroom apartment in Sacramento if they wanted to tour the capital with him. “It’s per diem. The apartment is basically paid by you,” Voepel said as he gestured at the audience of local business owners.
The meeting drew a variety of people, including representatives from the Alpine Art League, Kiwanis Club, Men’s and Women’s Club, Alpine Historical Society and the Viejas tribal community. Some of the business owners also included a wide range of boutiques, tax services, Kamp’s Propane and canvas companies all gathered in the rustically decorated Janet’s Montana Cafe.
In his short speech, Voepel reflected on his first year as a novice member of the Assembly. He mentioned realizing that he is the last Vietnam veteran in the capital, and at 66, he will probably be the final one.
“My job is simply to help you make money. It's ok to make money, even in California,” he said. In the 71st Assembly District, Voepel represent half a million people from the Mexican border to Palm Springs.
Gail Ramer, the District Director for the 71st District, said, “This is what makes it all worth it. The people of the District.”
Voepel also discussed that the California Legislature is 25% millennials. “Some of them are really crummy, like in every generation,” Voepel said of these young people..“The millennial are very dedicated. Once they're into something, they go all the way. Businesses need to figure them out,” he urged the audience.
In his final comments before opening it up to audience questions, Voepel compared California to the Roman Empire in that both had capitals which had business within five blocks of the city center. “California is very unique in that we're very powerful,” Voepel said after bringing up that it has the sixth largest economy in the world and growing. The he added, “Watch your pocketbook ‘cause the government is really going after it.”
Photo, right: Sturnold presets Kekawa and Cuero with Certificate of Chairman’s Membership
When discussing the across-the-board rise in taxes, one community member asked, “Who's leading the resistance?” “I am,” said Voepel. “We just constantly push ‘no’.”
“Is there any sign California will get its head back from the madness?” asked Dave Henderson, artist at Alpine Skies Studio. Voepel laughed. “I look forward to happy hour every day.”
The final question from the audience was about Cap and Trade extending. Voepel simply said, “Everything in Sacramento is legal because if it's illegal, they change the law.”
During the breakfast, the Chamber also gave Viejas Enterprises’ representative Raymond “Bear” Cuero and Shalee Kekawa a Certificate of Chairman’s Circle Membership. “This is our community,” said Cuero as he thanked the Chamber.
As each member of the breakfast introduced themselves, many of them mentioned grand openings of new businesses, other community events in Alpine, and opportunities for people to support each other. “Alpine is a community crying out for identity,” said Henderson.