By Miriam Raftery
June 3, 2010 (San Diego’s East County) – While other candidates are hitting the campaign trail, Congressman Duncan D. Hunter is in Afghanistan visiting troops and getting an update on the war. On the home front, four candidates are on the ballot in the June 8th primary, each taking aim in hopes of representing the 52nd Congressional district.
While running against the Hunter family legacy (the current Republican Congressman replaced his father, also named Duncan Hunter), may seen a daunting task, Democrats Ray Lutz and Connie Frankowiak, as well as Republican Terri Linnell and Libertarian Michael Benoit, are taking on the challenge.
Lutz is an engineer and business owner who founded Citizens Oversight Projects (COPs), a watchdog group that has fought to keep Blackwater and Sunrise Powerlink out of East County. He wants to revitalize the economy by creating a “green Manhattan project” manufacturing solar in every Congressional district. Frankowiak, who ran for Congress in the past, is a peace activist and women’s rights advocate running to end the wars and invest in rebuilding America’s economy. Linnell is a Tea Party activist, mother and wife of a construction worker running to create more local construction jobs and reform the banking industry.
Hunter’s website states that his goals include repealing the healthcare reform bill, securing the border, creating jobs, maintaining a strong national defense , building more refineries and nuclear plants, and drilling for oil. For more details on Hunter’s campaign, see www.Hunterforcongress.com. For his voting record on key issues and ratings by interest groups, visit http://www.votesmart.org/summary.php?can_id=104308. For example, Hunter received high ratings from business, anti-abortion and gun advocacy groups, but low ratings from environmental, children’s and senior advocacy groups.
Lutz, who is endorsed by the Democratic Party and is well-known for his watchdog advocacy efforts in East County, received 39% of the vote when he ran for Assembly in 2008 against Joel Anderson, who got 55%. Citizens Oversight Projects (www.citizensoversight.org), which he founded, trains citizens to monitor hearings and actions of local boards and commissions. "it encourages people to become involved in theirl ocal governmental bodies, and that's something I will keep up with," said Lutz, who believes "It's important to speak out when things are wrong."
Lutz faults federal policies that have allowed manufacturers to outsource jobs to India and China and sees job creation as a core role of government. “We need to take the bull by the horns here and really turn ourselves around,” he said in an interview with East County Magazine. “We are behind other countries in terms of renewable energy supply.” The theme of his campaign is 'jobs, not war.'
To revitalize the U.S. economy, proposes investment in building 500 solar fabrication plants across America. “Every dollar that we don’t spend on oil in the future is a dollar we spend to employ someone here, which results in tax revenues for our economy,” he observed. He also wants to see investment in research. “We’ve been hoping large oil companies with their mega-profits would do it, but most of their investment is in `drill, baby, drill,’” he said, noting that oil prices are bound to rise in the future as finite oil resources are depleted and drilling in deep ocean waters becomes more costly both in dollars and risks, as the Gulf oil spill demonstrates. “Especially here, we have so much solar that’s hitting rooftops of homes, we can go a long way toward balancing our energy budget.” Lutz also wants to deincentivize offshoring of work and “shine a big, bright light on companies that are doing it.”
Lutz looks to stemming a key source of illegal immigration that was fueled by NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement. NAFTA allowed U.S. farmers, whose crops are subsidized by the federal government, to flood the Mexican market with cheap corn and other crops. “We put 1.5 million farmers and people working on farms out of business in Mexico,” Lutz noted, adding that those who formerly worked on Mexican farms flooded north of the border seeking work to feed their families. “At the same time, we had meat packing companies like Iowa Beef Products send busses down and advertise in Mexico. They brought illegals up to their factories in busses,” he said, urging readers to view the documentary Food, Inc. or visit www.foodfirst.org for details. Many of those immigrants have stated that they want to go home to Mexico, but can’t because there are no jobs. Lutz would support reforming NAFTA to allow Mexico to levy a tax on imported food crops and allow Mexican farmers to go back to employing workers in Mexico.
“I have a background in business,” notes Lutz, who said he has worked with large companies in the printer/scanner/fax/copier industry as founder of the Multi-Function Products Association and a conference organizer for the industry. He said he also served on a technical advisory committee on telecommunications for the United Nations. Currently he has a consulting products business providing neural feedback products to psychologists including drug-free treatments for mental health conditions such as attention deficit disorder and autism. “I have two patents. I am a creative guy who likes to solve problems,” added Lutz. “I am a business owner myself. I understand what business owners think about and what it means to need to make payroll next month.”
He wants to change healthcare reforms so that “small business owners won’t have to worry about paying for insurance or buying into pools for their employees.” Instead he favors a separate pool for healthcare paid for by taxes, with millions of individuals and businesses able to buy coverage. “Right now, small business pays 18% more than big business,” he said, adding that more regulation of insurance companies is still needed. “There’s no good reason for that.” He clarified that he does not support “socialized medicine” and that healthcare through doctors and hospitals would remain private. “This is socialized INSURANCE,” he emphasized. “We’re still using private insurance companies with no controls on healthcare costs…What we want to do is turn this around to emphasize preventative medicine instead of the emergency disease-based care that we get today.” He noted that American no longer has the best healthcare system in the world, and in fact has among the highest infant mortality rates among developed countries.”
He faults Hunter for voting against the interests of constituents who need jobs. “He didn’t vote for extending unemployment. He hasn’t been a real advocate for getting the economy back on track. He voted against the stimulus bill and hasn’t even worked to get stimulus money here.” He also criticized Hunter for earmarking funds “for a company that his uncle founded.” Hunter has also earmarked a shooting range in Miramar that could be used by sports enthusiasts as well as military. “That’s not even his district,” said Lutz, who noted that Hunter’s father, the former Congressman, also drew scrutiny for controversial earmarks after taking large contributions from defense contractors.
Lutz opposes Sunrise Powerlink and calls regulators “spineless” for approving what he views as a line that may be used to bring fossil fuel up from south of the border. He also wants to see more fire protection for East County and would encourage more consolidation of fire districts.
He supports “strong family values” which he defines as a family that doesn’t have the government telling it what to do on matters such as end-of-life decisions, abortion, or definition of marriage. He supports civil unions for all and believes the term marriage should be reserved for religious services.
Lutz and his wife, Jill, also operate a Montessori preschool in El Cajon. They have two sons, ages 17 and 20. Lutz has been endorsed by Congressman Bob Filner and anticipates that after the primary he will draw support from groups that backed his Assembly race in the past. For more information on Lutz’s candidacy, visit www.voteraylutz.com.
“Why I decided to run was because I had research my incumbent and decided he wasn’t going to do what needed to be done for the economy,” Linnell told East County Magazine. “His focus is on immigration and the troops.” She supports Hunter’s positions on the war and immigration. Like Hunter, she opposes gay marriage and supports gun rights.
Although Hunter has held job fairs locally, Linnell observed, “They don’t seem to have any construction work in them and that’s what this district mostly needs for the men. They are very hard hit. What I would like to do is remove affirmative action for all the contracts they put out under $2.5 million.” She argues that in San Diego, which has a high Latino population, affirmative action puts small independent contractors who are non-minorities at a disadvantage. “I feel this rule is obsolete for this area and just not necessary…To deny us a right to bid is to deny us a right to work.”
She also called for repeal of the Gramm Leach Bliley Act which deregulated banks. “That’s when the birth of the debit credit cards happened,” she said, adding that the law allowed banks to consolidate with other corporations and industries. “That’s our money in the banks and they shouldn’t have been allowed to have unsecured credit comingled with our money in other risky industries.” She also wants to see a full audit of the Federal Reserve.
She joined with Lutz in criticizing Hunter over earmarks. “I oppose earmarks. Lobbying with money is bribery,” she said. “Whether they made it legal or not it’s still bribery.”
Linnell grew up in a family working in property m anagement. She holds a bachelor of science degree in business from California State University, San Marcos and formerly held a real estate license. Today, she is a mother and homemaker.
“In 2002, I noticed the price/wage ratio of the housing market was off. It was costing too much for the wages. The market should have been correcting,” said Linnell. The situation prompted her to research the economy and in turn led to her interest in politics. “In 2004 I realized the size of the bubble was getting very massive and that it would hit across the board, when it went to collapse. I started looking at what’s our government going to do because it’s going to be expensive, and I realized that government only looks at the next election,” she said, faulting lobbyists for exerting undue influence on legislators.
She became active in the T.E.A. Party movement (Taxed Enough Already) in April 2008. “I’m also called the Poem Lady,” said Linnell, who got the nickname by reading a poem about deregulation of banks at a town hall forum held by Congressman Darrell Issa. She considers herself a Constitutionalist and says she supports the Constitution the way it is—including the first amendment guaranteeing free speech and the second amendment, which she interprets to include the right to openly carry arms.
Like fellow Republican Hunter, she is strongly pro-life, but would make exceptions for ectopic tubal pregnancies. “There has to be some common sense,” said Linnell, who suffered an ectopic pregnancy. “I was within 48 hours of hemorrhaging,” she said, noting that in a tubal pregnancy, “There is a 100% chance that a baby will die. If you do nothing, there is a 100% chance the woman will die. You have to go in and fix the hemorrhaging.”
She wants to see British Petroleum held accountable for not being professional in its role in the Gulf oil spill, but said she hasn’t given thought yet to an energy policy. She believes healthcare is a “local issue that needs to be addressed locally or by states.”
Linnell is married with three children ages 10, 14, and 16 who attend public schools in Ramona. She has also homeschooled two of her children in the past and supports the rights of homeschooling. She endorsed by Monisgnor Halvorson and Defunded, a group dedicated to defunding the healthcare bill.
To learn more about Linnell’s candidacy, visit http://linnellforcongress.com/.
A 69-year-old grandmother who lives in the Anza Borrego desert, Frankowiak previously ran for Congress in 2006. She has been active politically as a district representative of Progressive Democrats of America, helped found a local chapter of National Organization for Women (NOW), worked actively for gay rights, organized Democratic clubs, and is a peace activist who has advocated against the Viet Nam War as well as the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. She also blogs at www.HuffingtonPost.com. She currently owns a house-sitting and pet-sitting business.
“We have to reform this government,” she said in an interview with East County Magazine. “All this money has corrupted everything. Bills are watered down to the point where they are totally useless,” she said, citing the healthcare and financial reform bills as examples where lobbyists’ money had negative influences in her view. “The financial reform bill didn’t address breaking up these powerful banks or making everything transparent.” She faulted the healthcare bill for not providing competition to insurance companies or addressing high premium costs.
“These endless wars are bankrupting our country,” Frankowiak said. “Bush cut taxes for the rich and put war on the credit card—trillions of dollars in debt. If I was elected, the first bill I would put forward would be a bill to stop funding wars in three countries: Pakistan, Iraq and Afghanistan.” She would use the money saved to “rebuild America and get millions of jobs for the American people because that’s what we need in this country. “ She added that the nations where we are at war “all have corrupt governments. Most of that money is just pure corruption…Look closely at the overcharges of Halliburton and other contractors. Last year, $22 billion couldn’t be accounted for.”
She criticized the T.E.A. Party movement as being backed by “robber barons—the corporations” and said she finds it ironic that many senior citizens on Medicare and Medicaid are protesting “socialist” programs. “I don’t think they are making the connection,” she said.
She spoke forcefully against the incumbent. “Duncan Hunter is for the war and all these things that I’m against. “ Frankowiak also faulted Hunter for sending out a mailer “full of lies about the healthcare bill” and not addressing the needs of “a lot of poor people out here who are low income and losing their homes…He’s voting against everything Obama has even tried to do for the American people. He’s working for the robber barons….When you have a recession where people are suffering, that’s not what you want in office. These Republicans aren’t even acting like Republicans. If they cared about the American people, they would be working with the Democrats to solve the serious problems in this country.”
Frankowiak has no website. For more information on her candidacy, visit http://www.votesmart.org/bio.php?can_id=57345.
Libertarian Michael Benoit wants to end the wars and cut taxes to “reduce burdensome government regulation” and “free up the creative energy of the American people” , steps he believes would help pull America out of the recession and reduce unemployment.
On immigration, he criticizes the border wall which Hunter’s father advocated to build and which the current Congressman has pushed to expand. “The Berlin Wall project is a failure. It is another pouring of money down a rat hole project,” said Benoit. “All we have to do to solve this problem is allow for more work visas for those who come looking for work. The employers would have more legal workers to choose from so they will stop hiring illegal workers. No free health care, education or welfare.”
Benoit would abolish Social Security and further believes that the federal government “has no business in the education of our children,” his website states. “I believe if we are to maintain quality education, we must have more private competition.”
He believes in states’ rights on issues such as abortion, wants to restore civil liberties, supports the right to bear arms, and believes the “war on drugs” has been a costly boondoggle.
A former local organizer for presidential candidate Ron Paul’s c ampaign, Benoit has pledged not to take any money from special interests or corporations. For more information on Benoit’s campaign, visit http://www.michaelbenoit.org/index.php.