Candidates for Attorney General and Insurance Commissioner Spoke at Festive Gathering
September 30, 2009 (Lemon Grove) – Dozens of people packed into the Por Favor Restaurant in Lemon Grove Friday night to celebrate the community’s newly formed Spring Valley-Lemon Grove Democratic Club. The new club hosted an impressive array of guest speakers, including two candidates for statewide offices: Attorney General and Insurance Comissioner. The group’s next meeting is slated for Thursday, October 1st. .
“Valley Grove is back,” Lemon Grove Councilman George Gastil proclaimed, referring to the area’s former Democratic Club, which disbanded several years ago. But victories by President Barack Obama and local Democratic candidates have revived a surge of interest in Democratic Clubs countywide, prompting Gastil to organize the new club.
“This is a huge turnout for a new club,” Assemblyman Marty Block (D-Lemon Grove) said.
Due to a regional Democratic convention in San Diego the next day, the event at Por Favor drew a number of candidates for state offices in addition to local office holders and candidates.
Gastil introduced Assemblyman Pedro Nava (D-Santa Barbara), who is now running for California Attorney General. “He single-handedly put together the coalition that defeated offshore oil drilling,” Gastil said of Nava, who also served on the Coastal Commission for eight years.
Nava delivered a speech urging party loyalists to elect Democrats to serve in Sacrament “so we can hold the line against people who don’t give a damn about people.” A former district attorney and civil litigator, he has handled both criminal and civil cases, including protecting consumers from rip-offs. He takes pride in his 100% ratings from CALPIRG (a consumer organization), Equality California, and organizations for environmental protections and reproductive rights. He is also a strong advocate for humane treatment of animals and currently has bills on the Governor’s desk to shut down puppy mills, increase penalties on dogfights, and prevent convicted animal abusers from owning pets.
“It’s about justice for all people,” Nava said of his desire to serve as the state’s highest law enforcement officer. Son of an immigrant father who came to American with nothing but “the shirt on his back and his dreams,” Nava credits public education with giving him the opportunity to succeed. “I will fight to protect the rights of everyone.”
Insurance Commissioner candidate Dave Jones, currently a Sacramento Assemblyman, said the job of the insurance commissioner is “to be in your corner and keep the insurance industry accountable.” He pledged to campaign for single payer healthcare and as Insurance Commissioner, to work to reform the healthcare market in California.
“2.5 million Californians have to buy insurance on the open market and often, they don’t know what they’re getting,” he said, citing the case of a woman who bought a “comprehensive plan” that turned out to cover hospitalizations but not outpatient surgery. “She was left with a $60,000 bill and was bankrupted,” said Jones, who has introduced bills to cap out-of-pocket expenses at $5,000. He also called for direct regulation of insurance companies (similar to how utilities are regulated) to end “profiteering” by monopolies. “Only 65 cents of every healthcare dollar goes to healthcare,” he said. “We can hold companies more accountable.”
He criticized current Insurance Commissioner Steve Poizner for “cutting the legs out from under laywers” who have tried to go after three health insurers that were compensating employees for rescission of policies (canceling policies after people become sick).
Nava also serves on the Joint Legislative Committee for Emergency Management and wrote the bill that created the Emergency Management Agency (CAL EMA). “One thing that is driving up the cost of firefighting is increased growth in high fire risk areas without providing proper fire protection,” said Nava, author of AB 666, which is currently on the Governor’s desk. His bill will require that counties have findings of adequate fire protection before approving new development in rural, high-fire risk areas. “I need letters of support,” he added.
The next meeting of the Spring Valley-Lemon Grove Democratic Club is slated for October 1st at 7:30 p.m. in a private residence at 2457 Trace Road, Spring Valley. Election of officers, future meeting dates and other goals for the organization will be discussed.