By Miriam Raftery
March 26, 2015 (Santee) – Randy Voepel, Santee’s Mayor for the past 15 years, has thrown his hat in the ring to run for the 71st State Assembly seat that Brian Jones is vacating due to term limits, SD Rostra reports. He’ll be running against Michael Harrison, who works for Congressman Duncan Hunter and previously worked for Hunter’s father when he served in Congress.
Thus far, no Democratic candidate has emerged in this heavily conservative district, which in the last election saw only two Republicans on the ticket.
Voepel says he is running on his record as a staunch conservative. So conservative that in 2010, he left the Republican Party and registered as a independent. He told the UT San Diego that he was fed up with Republican Party ideals and identified more with Tea Party ideals of lower taxes and smaller government.
One of East County’s most flamboyant political leaders, Voepel is a staunch climate change denier, Voepel once sent organizers of a climate change event an email urging them to enjoy their “wreck the economy party”, as he called it.
An advocate of free-market conservative policies, he points to his accomplishments as Santee’s Mayor.
Those include building one of the biggest reserve funds per capita of any city in the region keeping Santee fiscally sound even while neighboring cities struggled. Though city spending was cut 16% during the lean years and no sales tax hikes were imposed as they were in nearby cities, Santee residents still benefited from the addition of a teen center, new ball fields, concerts and recreational activities.
Voepel and the Council implemented pro-business policies to attract major national restaurant chains and retailers, as well as new upscale residential and office development.
Michael Harrison, a Ramona resident originally from El Centro, studied government at Johns Hopkins University, according to his Facebook page. He has gained support of Congressional members Darrell Issa, Duncan Hunter and his father, as well as former Congressman Brian Bilbray. Harrison, too, says he wil support “conservative ideals and principles” in government.
Harrison blames high taxes, over-reaching regulations and an unfavorable business climate for the state’s economic problems. He also says he wants to strengthen the education system, improve California’s infrastructure, protect Prop 13 and promote California’s business opportunities.