By Miriam Raftery
October 28, 2022 (Alpine) – Protecting our democracy is the “number one issue” in the Congressional races, says Stephen Houlahan, who is running against Republican Congressman Darrell Issa. “He is anti-democracy. I am pro-democracy.”
Houlahan says he’s received threats, had his home vandalized, and his pro-choice campaign signs slashed. During the recent Candidates to Constituents forum in Alpine, Houlahan talked about the positive changes he hopes to bring to the 48th Congressional district. He faults Issa for voting against funding bills and failing to fight for federal dollars to improve firefighting, highway and water infrastructure, as well as Issa's extreme stance on abortion and Issa's vote against certifying the 2020 presidential election while the U.S. Capitol was under assault by insurrectionists.
“He’s the culmination of bad representatives from this district,” he said of Issa and a “long line of corruption” that included Republicans Randy “Duke” Cunningham and Duncan D. Hunter, both convicted of federal corruption crimes.
Who is Stephen Houlahan?
Houlahan, a Democrat, is a former Santee City Councilman with a masters in business administration (MBA) degree, which he says equip him to work to solve issues such as inflation. He’s also a registered nurse, who worked saving lives during the pandemic, has helped women give birth and more. In addition he’s been an activist who as president of Save Mission Trails led the successful effort to stop a gas-fired power plant from being built adjacent to Mission Trails Regional Park. The Santee resident and father is also a youth soccer and baseball coach, an oudoorsman, and he’s served on the San Diego River Conservancy board as well as helping the Rancho Cuyamaca State Park area after it burned in the Cedar Fire.
“I am a working man,” he says, “and I am someone who cares.”
Drought, water infrastructure and firefighting
Houlahan notes that our region faces threats from wildfires and drought, yet Issa voted against legislation that could have funded increased firefighting and infrastructure to boost water storage capacity. “We need tools – helicopters, brush rigs,” Houlahan stated. With climate change drying up the Colorado River and fueling drought, he adds, “There is a desperate need to expand our dams and reservoirs.”
Darrell Issa signed an amicus brief urging the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade and allow states to outlaw or restrict abortion—before the Supreme Court ruled to do so. Issa has not supported any exceptions, even to save women’s lives. Polls show Republicans could regain control of Congress and if that happens, one of their goals is to introduce legislation that could ban abortion nationwide.
“I am a pro-choice candidate running against an authoritarian who has done nothing for you,” Houlahan said in the Alpine forum. “There are times when a fetus may not be viable,” he added, recalling births he has assisted in as a nurse. “A woman and her doctor should make that choice, not some bureaucrats in Washington D.C. This is 2022 – not 1922.” He faults Issa for calling himself pro-life while not caring about children after they are born on issues such as healthcare and gun violence in schools.
Social Security and Medicare
Houlahan pledged to protect Social Security and Medicare, which Republicans have sought to privatize, cut or eliminate. As a nurse, he also said he has knowledge of the Medicare system to reform and improve coverage.
Photo, right: Houlahan looks through his pro-choice campaign sign, which was vandalized
Inflation has been on the rise around the world as nations emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, though Issa has faulted the Biden administration. Houlahan says inflation worldwide is due to supply chain issues in the pandemic that take time to resolve, but says the solution is to “increase the supply chain.” He wants to provide San Diego with the opportunity to offshore cargo here and he wants to solve the “logjam at the border” for supplies to come across via trucks.
Immigration, jobs, education, and equality
He says he is “not for open borders” but that we need workers, citing shortages of workers in industries such as agriculture. He favors comprehensive immigration reform, protection for young immigrants under DACA and an ability to bring in workers to fill critical needs such as nurses during the pandemic, when medical personnel were in short supply. “Republicans are standing up against people of color and indigenous people…We are all equal,” said Houlahan.
He also wants to invest in education to help American workers train for better paying jobs in the future.
Houlahan criticizes the “demonization” of minorities, immigrants and gay people by his opponent. Issa, an Arab-American, used “homophobia against Carl DeMaio and racism against Ammar Campa-Najjar,” Houlahan said, adding that he supports “equal rights for all.”
Highway improvements needed
He faults Issa for not fighting for highway funds for the district to ease traffic bottlenecks on highways such as 94, 125, 52 and 8. “That is infrastructure that needs to be fixed. It’s very expensive. We need federal dollars” to build improvements to our highways “and stop building expensive sprawl houses.”
Houlahan pledged to modernize Lakeside’s post office if elected.
Housing and homelessness
In Santee, Houlahan backed inclusionary housing to assure developers built affordable homes at lower profits, and he opposed Fanita Ranch, a massive, sprawling housing development planned in a high-fire danger; a judge cited inadequate wildfire evacuation routes when the court later forced the city to rescind its approval of the project that Houhan voted against. “We should not build sprawl east of Alpine,” Houlahan stated, citing wildfire dangers in rural areas. In addition, he wants more mass transit and says it’s unrealistic to expect business people wearing suits to hop on scooters for their last few miles from transit stations to homes.
“Homeless living in riverbeds need transitional housing,” Houlahan stated. “The reason we get no federal dollars for anything in this district is because Issa voted against it.”
Dangerous dam needs repairs
ECM asked Houlahan if he would take action to seek funds to repair the El Capitan Dam in Lakeside, an old earthen dam that has been rated by the state as in the worse possible condition and posing the highest possible danger of massive loss of life if it fails – all when climate change is forecast to bring more extreme storms. “Absolutely,” he pledged. “I live downstream as well….To have an earthen dam in 2022 is ridiculous” He faulted Issa for voting against infrastructure funding and not seeking nor getting any funds for this and other needed projects. Issa and the Hunters, he said, “have only lined their own pockets.”
COVID funds – Issa’s hypocrisy
He faulted Issa for voting against COVID relief funds to help struggling businesses, yet later accepting funds for Issa’s own business, which also got over $150,000 in federal loan forgiveness before the company shut down. Houlahan accused Issa, the Hunters and Cunningham (who was convicted of bribery) of “lining their own pockets” while failing to fight for funds the district needs.
Gas prices, renewable energy, and climate change
Asked by an audience member about gas prices, which rose sharply and have since declined some, though not to pre-pandemic levels, Houlahan said he wants to diversity supply to stop price gouging. He called this a “national security issue.” He also wants more electric cars and chargers. He faults Issa for denying climate change instead of supporting a transition to renewable fuels, just as some in the past resisted moving from horse-powered transportation to gas-powered engines. He predicts as we shift away from gas-powered vehicles and supply becomes more than demand, the price of gasoline will drop, though he acknowledges we will still need petroleum for some time.
Houlahan wants more funding for the Veterans Administration. He says it’s “not okay to have veterans suffering PTSD after serving in a war zone.”
Future of our democracy, insurrection and election denial
Another audience member voiced concern over the state of our democracy and protecting voting rights, noting that Republicans have installed election officials in many states who deny that Trump lost the presidential election in 2020, even though 62 judges (including some appointed by Trump) found no evidence of fraudulent results in any state.
“This is the number one issue,” Houlahan replied. “Darrell Issa is an election denier. He voted not to allow votes to be counted in some states. He is anti-democracy. I am pro-democracy,” said Houlahan, adding that in his family, ancestors “fought against fascists. Denial is a precursor to authoritarianism,” he warned, stating bluntly, “A conspiracy-led cult is in charge of one of your political parties.” He also denounced hate groups and individuals in Santee who recently wore swastikas and KKK symbols into grocery stores. “We all need to fight against them,” he said.
Houlahan called the January 6, 2021 violent attack on the U.S. capitol, where over 150 police officers were injured or killed during efforts to impede certification of the election, “a coup attempt.”
Issa voted against certifying the vote and has spread disinformation about the attempted insurrection online, according to the Insurrection Index.
“The freedom party is the Democratic party,” now, Houlahan asserted. “Darrell Issa betrayed his constitutional oath to uphold our Constitution. He is unfit for office—and he needs to go.”
In concluding comments, Houlahan urged voters to “go fight for democracy, because I’m going to go fight for you.”
View Houlahan’s opening remarks at the Alpine forum: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZkQGS9esehM
Visit Houlahan’s website: https://electhoulahan.com/
A Democrat for democracy?
That's a good one.
throw the bums
of course you