By Jessica Richmond
Listen to our radio interview with Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis here: http://kiwi6.com/file/t5e89mc5cl
April 12, 2014 (San Diego’s East County) - The race for California’s 38th State Senate district seat has been heating up since the arrival of Fotios “Frank” Tsimboukakis. He has made it a point to challenge incumbent Joel Anderson on many key issues—including taking a stand against environmentally harmful energy projects in East County. Tsimboukakis has testified in public hearings against industrial solar and wind projects, as well as the Quail Brush gas-fired power plant, while Anderson has been largely silent on these controversial plans, critics have pointed out.
Tsimboukakis has also proposed plans to make college tuition free, cut wasteful spending, and convene public hearings on funding firefighting, with an eye toward possibly repealing or amending state fire fees. He has also pledged to hold regular town hall meetings in the district to hear from voters, faulting Anderson for not hosting town halls for constituents to share their views.
As a Greek immigrant, Tsimboukakis fled the dictatorial rule of Greece to pursue the American dream of freedom, family, education, and liberty. He appreciates the American style of open democracy, and values citizen engagement. For this Senate candidate, being a member of the East County community means acting as a responsible steward and caring for the safety of our environment as well as our people.
When asked by ECM about what first spurred his interests in running for the California 38th Senate district, Tsimboukakis responded, “I was against the building of the Quail Brush power plant…while Joel Anderson would not challenge its creation.” The gas-fired power plant was proposed for construction next to Mission Trails Regional Park and local Santee schools, prompting protests among residents concerned over pollution and environmental degradation (photo, right). Other local politicians including Santee’s Republican Mayor Randy Voepel and San Diego’s Democratic Mayor Bob Filner opposed the plant, but Joel Anderson did not.
Anderson has taken substantial campaign donations in his current campaign from Sempra Energy/SDG&E, which sought to purchase power from the Quail Brush plant. The application was suspended for one year by the California Public Utilities Commission—but as of this week, the applicant has asked the CPUC to extend the suspension for one year and made clear that it still hopes to build the project.
In his last election, Anderson was fined $20,000 by the Fair Political Practices Commission, returning a hefty donation from SDG&E and several other entities that exceeded legal campaign donation limits and was funneled through a Republican central committee. Anderson however has denied any intentional wrongdoing.
Tsimboukakis fought hard against further efforts at environmental degradation by opposing the creation of more large scale wind and industrial solar facilities in East County’s backcountry, in favor of more responsible and energy efficient individual roof-top solar panels. By “streamlining the installation procedures and limiting or lowering installation costs/mark-ups of solar panels,” Tsimboukakis says he believes that we can create a more environmentally friendly power source that fuels future growth and consumer financial savings.
In an interview with ECM on KNSJ radio, Tsimboukakis further stated that he would introduce a bill to require that when industrial wind or large scale solar projects are proposed, alternatives considered must include rooftop solar/distributed generation to produce power closest to where it is consumed, with the least possible negative environmental impacts.
Another issue that caused Tsimboukakis to run for office was the financial record of Senator Anderson, he says. Legislative records indicate Anderson was once among the top 25% of spenders for total legislative expenditures and among the top 15% for travel funds during the first eight months of 2013.
Also, after discovering that Senator Anderson had again received substantial campaign contributions from SDG&E, Tsimboukakis expressed the desire to run a “clean campaign,” free of any “gifts” from lobbyists or large corporations.
For Tsimboukakis, eliminating the cost of college tuition for California residents is another of his top priorities.
“Without an education, you’re poor,” he stated.
As a California State Senator, Tsimboukakis plans on introducing a bill to grant free tuition to California State residents at all University of California and California State University campuses, as well up to two years at community colleges. Noting that the UC system is top heavy with administrators compared to the CSU system, he says his plan would be implemented over a 10 year time-span by requiring attrition which will “trim the fat” from the bloated California college administration budget, while freeing up more funds for teachers and eliminating the need for the expensive, state-funded financial aid.
Tsimboukakis has earned two bachelor’s degrees from UC Berkeley as well as an MBA. He says he has been managing or running businesses since age 18. Tsimboukakis has also been involved in his local community HOA boards, where he says he created a plan to cut over $100 in HOA dues, while simultaneously leaving a balanced budget. Tsimboukakis indicates he carried this business model of fiscal responsibility and consumer savings to his membership on the Board of Directors for the Greek Orthodox Church from 2005-2009, where as Treasurer, his background in financial investments, sales and marketing, and community organizing, propelled him to pursue a higher calling to public office.
Tsimboukakis may be a newcomer to an official political ticket, but he has over 20 years of experience as a business manager, financial and investment adviser, real estate developer, sales and marketing professional and community organizer. He has been actively participating in politiics in his district since 2000 and in East County since 2012, first as Vice President and now President of the East County Democratic Club.
Plan to Action
For Tsimboukakis, these are his six key goals if elected:
1) Get rid of tuition for CSU and UC colleges;
2) eliminate renters credit, in favor of a “straight tax deduction”;
3) Create an HOA oversight and enforcement agency- “There’s no enforcement mechanism to ensure proper management of HOA boards;”
4) No power plants/fossil fuel plants in the city/urban areas or in the back country- the preference is to have every house w/solar panels, and solar powered cars;
5) Voter ID cards- an encrypted system which would allow for maximum security, while allowing citizens the convenience of casting votes from the comfort of their own homes (on a computer or via touch tone phone) while providing passwords for people to register and check their votes (to assure accuracy) online;
6) Eliminate the $150 fire fee- currently classified as a “fee” instead of a “tax”- his solution would be to institute a public forum to re-visit the issue with voters and fire departments officials (fotiosforsenate38/issues-analysis).
For more information on Fotios (Frank) Tsimboukakis, you can visit his website at http://fotiosforsenate38.com/issues-analysis.html.
East County Magazine has also extended an invitation to Senator Anderson to do an in-depth interview on his campaign.