By Miriam Raftery
September 12, 2019 (El Cajon) – Ray Lutz, founder of the nonprofit watchdog group Citizens Oversight in El Cajon, announced today that he has formed an exploratory committee for a possible run for the 53rd Congressional district seat. Congresswoman Susan Davis announced last week that she will not be seeking reelection.
Lutz, a Democrat, lives in the 53rd district since redistricting in 2010, though he previously ran against Rep. Duncan Hunter back in 2008.
Lutz and the organization he founded have been instrumental in attaining several landmark actions in our region ranging from a lawsuit that won $775 million for local ratepayers to a succesful fight that helped save East County's peforming arts center,as well as leading efforts to improve safety of nuclear waste storage and battling to keep Blackwater out of the backcountry.
- Sued and won a settlement for ratepayers: He led a successful legal battle that won $775 million dollars for ratepayers following closure of the San Onofre nuclear power plant, after back room dealings between former Calif. Public Utilities Chair Michael Peeve and Southern Calif. Edison was revealed.
- Helped save East County’s performing arts center: When a proposal to tear down the East County Performing Arts Center and build a hotel surfaced in El Cajon, Lutz helped form a “SAVE ECPAC” committed and organized protests outside city hall. His efforts helped save the theater, which reopened this week with a new name, The Magnolia Center, under management of Live Nation. (Photos, right)
- Sued to try and stop storing nuclear waste on the beach at San Onofre: Edison agreed to forge a plan to move the waste elsewhere, but thus far has not complied; the matter remains in the courts. An engineer, Lutz also formulated criteria for safer storage of nuclear waste with a stronger cask design that he has submitted to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
- Fought for election integrity: Lutz has conducted reviews of San Diego’s Registrar of Voters procedures, once sued the Registrar and won in court, and has expanded oversight of election audits to 24 counties in California.
- Helped stop Blackwater from building a paramilitary training camp in Potrero: Rural residents won this effort when Blackwater cancelled its plans following massive public protests, keeping the land agricultural.
- Organized “Earth Summit” event series: The events focus on environmental and climate concerns, held the first Monday of each month at the Balboa Park Club.
Photo, left: Lutz received an award in 2008 as thanks from people in Potrero during victory celebration after Blackwater announced cancellation of its plans for a paramilitary training facility in the rural community.
In his announcement today, Lutz says he’s weighing a run for Congress in the heavily Democratic district because “I don’t believe Susan Davis has been progressive enough for the taste of most voters today, as she has avoided supporting single-payer healthcare reform, the Green New Deal, and would not help in many of our battles against San Onofre waste and closure.”
Lutz has until Dec. 7 to file candidacy papers to run. He has set up a website at http://RayLutz.com.
He is one of several Democrats to announce either a candidacy or formation of an exploratory committee in the 53rd district. Thus far, Lutz is the only East County candidate among them.
(photo, right: Lutz at Congressional debate against Duncan D. Hunter in 2010.)
These are other Democratic candidates eyeing the seat:
- Sara Jacobs, nonprofit leader and member of Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs’ family has announced her candidacy. She previously ran in the 49th district race won by fellow Democrat Mike Levin. Her website states he has served in the U.S. State Department during the Obama administration, as well as at UNICEF and the United Nations.
- Georgette Gomez, San Diego City Council President, has formed an exploratory committee. Housing and transportation have been her key issues; she has also chaired the Metropolitan Transit System’s board.
- Jose Cabellero, a retired nuclear engineer with the U.S Navy and founder of the San Diego Progressive Democratic Club; he also runs a political consulting firm.
- Joaquin Vasquez, the son of undocumented immigrants ,overcame family separation and homelessness to obtain a master’s in public policy degree. He has worked on the Obama campaign and community activism focused on civil and human rights, public education, economic inequality, environment, immigration and refugee issues.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that Lemon Grove Mayor Raquel Vasquez, the first African-American woman mayor in our county, has also voiced interest in possibly running for the seat though she has not yet formed a committee or announced a formal intent to run.
Republican Famela Ramos, a nurse and healthcare nonprofit founder, has also announced plans to switch from running against Congressman Scott Peters in the 52nd district and instead run in the 53rd. There is no legal requirement for a Congressional member to live in the district that they represent.
The 53rd Congressional district has 184,464 Democrats and 94,421 Republicans. It includes parts of La Mesa, Lemon Grove, El Cajon, Spring Valley, Chula Vista, and some San Diego neighborhoods including Mission Hills, the Balboa Park area, Mid-City, and Linda Vista. Davis won in 2018 with 70 percent of the vote.
Davis has served in Congress in 2001, where her focus has included education, women’s issues, and helping military families.