‘Getting to Know My San Diego State Senator’ and How to Know Other Politicians

by on October 29, 2019 · 0 comments

in Election, San Diego

By Richard Riehl

My 38th district State Senator, Brian Jones, emailed me yesterday. The subject line, “Will I see you?”made me wonder where I had met him, on what occasion, and where and when he hoped to see me again.

But the senator’s salutation: “Dear Friends,” suggested his fondness for me only began with his discovery of my name on a list of his district’s registered voters.

My new friend’s form letter alerted me to his legislative open house next month. “Hundreds of local elected officials and community leaders have already RSVP’d,” he gushed. “Believe me, the Open House will be the place to be in East County this fall!”

Well, it won’t be the place for me.

I’m registered as an NPP, no party preference, voter. One in four Californians are now so registered. The percentage has doubled in the last ten years, from 12.5% to 25%, rising to the second largest number of registered voters in the state.

Since I have no party affiliation, here’s how I evaluate each candidate.

  • Does the candidate have the experience and judgment to do the job?
  • Do their positions on the issues match my own?
  • Who is paying for their campaign?
  • How might campaign donors expect to be rewarded?

Here’s how I follow a candidate’s campaign money:

City elections:  San Marcos go here
County elections:  go here
State elections:  go here
Federal elections: go here

Vote Smart:  is my favorite website for researching candidates. Its mission is “to provide free, factual, unbiased information on candidates and elected officials to all Americans.” Among its founders were: President Jimmy Carter, President Gerald Ford, Senator Barry Goldwater and Senator George McGovern.

Here’s what the worker bees at Vote Smart do …

Picture this: thousands of citizens (conservative and liberal alike) working together, spending endless hours researching the backgrounds and records of thousands of political candidates and elected officials to discover their voting records, campaign contributions, public statements, biographical data (including their work history) and evaluations of them generated by over 400 national and 1300 state special interest groups.

With this much information handy, there’s no need to attend bloviating political rallies to guide my voting choices.

Here’s what I discovered about my new State Senator pen pal on Vote Smart, and why I won’t have to drive to Santee next month for his open house.

BS, Business Administration, San Diego State University, 1988-1992
Senator, California State Senate, District 38, 2018-present
Assembly Member, California State Assembly, District 71, 2010-2016
Member, City of Santee Council, 2002-2010

Here are the titles of a few bills he voted against on issues that caught my interest. They easily passed either the House, Senate or both:

  • Urges the Federal Government to Pass Universal Firearm Safety Regulation
  • Prohibits Firearms with Detachable Magazines
  • Prohibits the Possession of High-Capacity Gun Magazines
  • Prohibits Purchasing More than One Gun per Month
  • Rescinds Federal Freeze of Environmental Deregulation
  • Prohibits Smoking on State Beaches and Parks
  • Prohibits Discrimination Against Transgendered Individuals

Although Jones, a Republican, rarely voted for a bill passed by a California legislature dominated by Democrats, here are two he supported:

  • Authorizes Bars to Remain Open Until 3:00 AM
  • Authorizes Sleeping in Vehicles

Vote Smart reports, “Brian Jones has failed to provide voters with positions on key issues covered by our 2018 Political Courage Test, despite repeated requests.” But Jones did respond to the issues identified on its 2010 test.

Calling himself Pro Life, he answered no to the question, “Should abortion be legal if a woman’s life is endangered?”

On state spending he did not support any increases, with slight decreases for education and welfare.

On state taxes he supported great decreases for corporate and gasoline taxes, and slight decreases in sales taxes and for income taxes of middle and high income families.

To balance California’s budget he supported mandated furloughs and layoffs of state employees, reducing benefits for Medicaid recipients, and privatizing certain government services.

On environmental and energy issues he supported state funding for both alternative and traditional energy sources, like coal and oil.

On gun issues he supported allowing individuals to carry concealed guns, rejecting additional background checks on their purchase and possession.

On social issues he believed marriage should only be between one man and one woman. He rejected same sex domestic partnerships, as well as affirmative action.

On legislative priorities he listed jobs and spending.  He boasted,

“I am the only candidate, who, as an elected official, has actually contributed to creating jobs in the district.”

He claimed his city of Santee, where he served on the city council, “has not raised sales taxes ever” and still balances its budget by cutting its budget.

Jones received $430,000 to fund his 2018 campaign. His most generous supporter was the California Association of Realtors, with a donation of $16,400.

Jones isn’t up for reelection until 2022. I’ll check back for a Vote Smart update before casting my vote in that election.

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