Bill Geppert

Edgy Interview: Bill Geppert

Bill Geppert will be in the running for Mr. San Diego as soon as Malin Burham wants to relinquish the title. It seems Bill is always stepping up to the plate in some capacity to get things done or shepherd a local organization through a difficult period. I met him back when he was running COX Communications. Now in retirement, he’s my neighbor and as active as ever. Bill’s the kind of guy, when you meet him a few times, you begin to wonder, “does this guy ever have a bad day?” He’s always engaging, upbeat and smiling and that comes across in this Edgy Interview.

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

Started my career in the communications industry just as cable and then the Internet took off. I was very fortunate to be a part of the burgeoning industry for 38 years during a technologically evolving, growing time!

 

What’s the best thing about the USA?

Freedom and the opportunity to pursue our dreams! We have free choice, and education provides a pathway to realize potential. We are genuinely blessed to be in America!

 

What’s the most important issue facing California, why, and what should be done about it?

The housing shortage coupled with escalating prices for homes. Excessive regulations and an elongated approval process is producing 70% fewer homes in the state each year than needed to meet demand. The result is a squeeze on home affordability and availability resulting in first-time home buyers often priced out of the market. Rental rates are now soaring and making it difficult to impossible for many families to stay in California!

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

I had the opportunity to talk with President Carter when he was here for Insights in 1996 about the Camp David Accords, which were one of the most significant achievements of our lifetime. I’d want to hear his take on what happened then, how the Middle East has evolved since, and how peace could be reached today.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

Then: Rock N Roll: Zeppelin, Clapton, Stones Now: Christian rock: Hillsong, MercyMe, Lauren Daigle… quite a shift!

 

First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

Pittsburgh PA: YES, and the little-known backup band stole the show- The Eagles!

 

Favorite sport and why?

Cycling and Golf, I enjoy the challenge and the competition, both are a test of your internal fortitude. Cycling is more physically demanding and golf more mental, and you can do both for the rest of your life! Additionally, both bring you to some amazingly beautiful places all around the world!

 

What was the last good movie you saw? Give me a one sentence review.

The Darkest Hour Brilliant performance from Gary Oldman and movie about Winston Churchill, who relied on his instincts and talked directly to the British people to affirm his difficult decision in the direst circumstances during WWII. [ed. Saw it, liked it, especially the impromptu focus group conducted on the Tube].

 

Favorite alcoholic beverage in winter and summer?

Ice cold lager beer in the summer, red wine with great food anytime!!

 

Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

The Voice – what a gift it would be to be able to sing and perform and participate at that level, but I can’t carry a tune, so it’s probably not in my future?!

 

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?

It came from my Dad. He said somewhere in your life an investment opportunity will come along and it won’t be in your field of expertise. After due diligence, follow your instincts and make the strategic investment. I did this investing in a media company that does advertising in movie theaters. Successfully sold the startup company eight years after building it up. He was right, I probably wouldn’t have invested in it without his advice.

 

What advice to you have for young people starting out?

Get experience! Don’t be as concerned with position or compensation, as long as you can make ends meet. Gain invaluable experience by doing as many things as you can, that’s most important. Best advice I ever got: “Seek to understand before being understood.”

 

If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

Italy’s Tuscany region. My wife and I want to go live there for a summer, ride my bike through the hills, learn the language, enjoy the people, food and wine!

 

Name a living person you admire. Why do you admire them?

In San Diego, it’s Malin Burnham. He is still engaged and making a difference at 90 years old! Amazing visionary, studies community issues with intensity and he is bold in his willingness to challenge us to be better as a community. His mantra: Community Before Self!

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

My faith, family and friends, and sharing this lifelong journey with my wife Amy! Recent – riding across America on my bike for Challenged Athletes.

 

Aimee Faucett

Edgy Interview: Aimee Faucett

Aimee Faucett, San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s Chief of Staff, has long been a behind-the-scenes political dynamo making things hum in America’s Finest City. Although it seems she’s been a constant in politics, Aimee took a turn as Executive Vice President of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce before returning to city hall in 2017. As she’ll explain, she got her start more than 20 years ago before rising through the ranks. Aimee is one of the big reasons Mayors like Jerry Sanders and Faulconer get things done.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

An Orthopedic Surgeon, but the sight of human blood and flesh made me gag so I pursued government and politics.

 

Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

Clara Barton, founder and first President of the American Red Cross [ed. The nonprofit is one of Competitive Edge’s favorite clients!]. She served as a nurse during the Civil War. Like Clara, I have always been driven to support those who are on the line protecting others.

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

President Richard Nixon. I’d ask him about Vietnam War and Watergate over a glass or two of wine … wine was Nixon’s favorite drink.

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

My senior year at San Diego State University I interned for former San Diego City Councilmember Judy McCarty. I was excited and anxious to start looking for a professional job within government or nonprofit. I was graduating in May 1996. In late-March of same year, Judy’s Chief of Staff, Jim Madaffer, invited me to attend a Friends of the Library meeting. Afterwards, we went through a McDonald’s drive-thru and while we were waiting, Jim offered me a job as a Council Representative. I have worked in San Diego politics ever since.

 

Have you considered running for office yourself? Why did you decide against it?

I have considered running for office. Lasted for 30 seconds and then I snapped out of it. I have always liked the character Oz in the Wizard of Oz.

 

Who would you want to play you in your biopic?

Kate Winslet.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium — and why?

Peter O’Neill. Peter paints with thick rich paints. I love how he captures the natural beauty of women.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

Anything 80s … Prince, Madonna, DJ E-Z Rock. Today I listen to Yacht Rock.

 

What 3 things are must haves in your fridge at all times?

Wine, Wine & Wine.

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it?

Mexican food, Ponce’s [Ed. That’s a San Diego, well, Kensington, institution that’s still going strong and now boasts a location in Del Sur].

 

What is your favorite moment from sports?

USA women’s soccer team winning the 2015 FIFA World Cup.

 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

Always treat people with respect and professionalism no matter the situation. You may need them some day. Several people have passed advice along over the years.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Chose a profession that you love. Everything else will fall into place.

 

What item would you like to buy if it went up for auction and you had the money to afford it?

One of Marilyn Monroe’s dresses.

 

What would you change about yourself?

I wish I would promote myself more.

 

Barry Jantz

Edgy Interview: Barry Jantz

Barry Jantz is something of a 20-teens Renaissance Man. Sure, he’s the current CEO of Grossmont Healthcare District and a former La Mesa City Councilmember. But what makes Barry cool is that he was blogging – and in a big way on San Diego’s Rostra and California’s Flash Report – way before blogging was cool. He’s been at the forefront of the revolution that is “the blogs” (kids, that’s a corruption of “web logs” as they were originally known). The fact that Barry comes at things from the right side of the political spectrum could get him labelled as a (dreaded?) right-wing blogger. But he’s not that way at all, always writing with decorum, decency, and humor. That’s why we thought it would be a good idea to put him in this month’s hot seat and subject him to the Edgy Interview.

 

Who shaped your thinking most on politics?

Many have influenced my political thinking. I remember a book by Jack Kemp, “American Renaissance,” that really helped “jell” the deeper philosophical stuff I was learning in a way so as to apply it to today’s politics. Yet, one of the biggest lessons wasn’t philosophical; and it was more an anti-lesson than a lesson. As a young La Mesa Councilmember, it was seeing one of my colleagues treat those who disagreed with him with such contempt and disrespect. That taught me to try do otherwise – oppose the other person’s belief or their idea, but don’t oppose them personally. To this day, I don’t choose my friends based on their political beliefs. Hey, just because they’re wrong doesn’t make them bad people – they’re just wrong.

 

What’s the best thing about the USA?

As a society we focus so much on the national level to define what makes America great or not. Yet, whether the president is fighting with Congress, some celebrity or the NFL may have little impact whatsoever on our daily lives. Our families, relationships, work, churches and local communities are what we experience and what impacts us every day. The best thing about the US is the way our neighbors and communities so often come together to meet needs. I was recently at a fundraiser in Alpine for the West Fire victims. Four hundred people packed into the Alpine Community Center, enjoying dinner and raising support. That night’s stories were about the devastation experienced by neighbors, but also about the hope that springs from being picked up and embraced by fellow neighbors. Those impacted are blessed by a Small Business Administration recovery loan, but the truly emotional blessing was in experiencing the local support coming from real people living around them. That’s what’s best about this country.

 

Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

Samuel Adams, the propagandist of the American Revolution. He was so involved in politics, it is said he pretty much let the family malt business fail as he didn’t have the time or passion for it (not that I let a family business fail). His writings and leaflets, sometimes anonymous out of necessity, influenced many on “Taxation without Representation.” Adams was one of the first bloggers, when you think about it.

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

Any one of the first four – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison. It’s often so difficult to recognize great achievements during the sometimes tedious moments of actually doing the hard work. My chosen topic for any of them, as Founding Fathers, would be if they even began to comprehend what would be the lasting gravity of the institutions they were forging. They certainly understood the importance of winning a war and forming a republic. Yet, in the daily moments of doing the actual work, did they ever think past the immediate importance of saving a nation? Did they ever think, “This will someday be considered a great historical achievement?”

 

What’s the most important issue facing your area, why, and what should be done about it?

It’s not just my area, it’s everywhere, nationwide. The significant increase in behavioral health issues, often connected to opioid addiction. These are intertwined with a host of other problems, including homelessness, broken families, and violence. Emergency Departments have the highest numbers of patients facing mental health crises than anything we’ve ever experienced. The inability of families and the community to deal with this growing problem is increasing dramatically. There is no simple or singular answer. Hospitals, communities, the faith community and legislatures are taking note. The discussion is taking place throughout the state and nation. However, government simply throwing money at the problem is not the answer, as it’s far more complex than that. The government may be able to help with more long-term community beds, for instance, but kids don’t develop mental health issues because of a lack of government-funded beds. It starts with parents, then crosses into every aspect of society, including cultural influences – and a lack of quality influences. Tell me how to change hearts and minds and I’d begin to have an answer to this problem.

 

What was the last good movie you saw? Give us a quick review.

Sorry, I’m a contrarian. Not a movie, a TV series – Breaking Bad. A superb multiple character study about someone’s greatest regret in life being so enveloped by his desire to leave enough for his family in the face of his own demise that he turns to the dark side to make it happen.

 

Tell us about your artistic talent(s).

I bombed at every attempted instrument – trumpet, piano, saxophone and drums. I simply didn’t want to practice. But I loved drawing and took design and drafting classes in high school, which led to something. A lot of people are surprised to know I started my career as a carpenter (a union one even!). As I was deciding that wasn’t going to be my life’s work, I got tapped to come into the construction office as a draftsman, because of my knowledge in the area. I’ve always loved writing as well and think I’m pretty decent. I love now to see my teenage daughter’s writing ability.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

In the 70s it was called Album Oriented Rock, but I always appreciated the music from five or 10 years earlier than whatever new stuff was on the radio at the time. My tastes shift, but lately it’s been great to listen to some things I haven’t heard for years – Van Morrison, David Bowie, early Roxy Music, the Stones’ years with guitarist Mick Taylor. And Jazz on KPBS 89.5. Or a more recent artist, Amy Winehouse. If it’s recent and living you’re after, Arctic Monkeys and Cold War Kids to name a couple.

 

First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

I’m not sure I remember which was first. Again, it was the 70s. The first truly memorable concert was Bob Marley at the Sports Arena, a couple of years before he died. A friend took me, although I wasn’t familiar with much of Marley’s music. It remains one of the best concerts I’ve seen – 13-piece band, impeccable. It showed me that I didn’t have to know the music to truly enjoy it.

 

If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?

Chocolate. I trust this needs no explanation.

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it in San Diego County?

I’d say chocolate again, but it’s not one of the basic food groups, unfortunately. Do people really have only one favorite cuisine? Ok, lately – sushi. Banbu in La Mesa, Tabu in Rancho San Diego, and this little neighborhood place in Fletcher Hills called Ahi.

 

Favorite sport and why?

Baseball. I’ve loved it since I collected baseball cards as a kid – and I still have them. The game’s nuances are fantastic. People either get the slow tempo or they don’t. I’m a purist – I hate the designated hitter [ed. Agree] and I still believe the runner should be able to completely bowl over the catcher.

 

Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

Although thus far it’s only been on one season, Hunted, a show about two-member teams going off the grid enough to not be found for four weeks, is fascinating. Surveillance technology has developed to the point that those trained in it can nearly find you anywhere, no matter how careful you are. That’s the scary part. But, I think I could develop a pretty good plan to evade for a month.

 

Tell us a good story about Steve Baldwin.

Aside from introducing me to my wife? Hmmm, so many stories, so few I can tell. One of my favorites is when Steve was in the State Assembly in the mid-90s. Republicans had just gained control of the Assembly (which ended up short-lived). A local San Diego Union reporter of prominence (nope, not the name) went to Steve’s La Mesa office to interview him. When the interview was over, the reporter put his notepad and pen into his back pocket and Steve asked him if he wanted a cup of coffee. The two went into the kitchen and stood and chatted. Just two guys talking now, right? “So, now that you’re chair of Assembly Education,” the reporter quipped, “I guess the California Teachers Association has to treat you differently.” The response was classic Steve, but a tad too colorful, shall we say. It also appeared in print the next day. I still use this in media trainings and with candidates as an example of never being “off the record.”

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

After being with Kaiser’s Facilities Development Department for 18 years (far too long), I left in 1999 to start my own consulting company – no clients to start. My wife and I were in the lounge at the La Mesa Brigantine having a drink, celebrating my last day at the old job. Sitting at the next table was Grossmont Healthcare District Board Member Jim Stieringer, someone I knew through politics. He was intrigued that I left Kaiser and asked what I was going to do. “Consult,” I said. I seriously remember his face lighting up. The chance encounter led first to a consulting gig with Grossmont, then in 2004 to the CEO job, the best years of my career.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

First, practice listening. Really listening. Not the next thing you’re going to say. A good way to practice this is to focus as if you’re going to have to repeat the person’s comments back to them in detail. Don’t let your passion for the subject cause you to interrupt or interject. (I’ve never mastered any of this, which is why I’m so aware of its importance. Second, no matter your job search or your employment situation, find some way to volunteer for something where you have a passion. Make the time. Stay connected to the things that energize you, even if your paid work doesn’t always take you in that direction. I recently heard about a friend’s son, very frustrated with his job search, who decided to do some volunteer work while he was in the midst of applications and interviews. That volunteer work turned into a job offer.

 

If you could now return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

Although it was for two weeks at Christmas and New Year, given it’s so hot in recent weeks, being on a snowy ski slope overlooking Vail Village sounds really appealing again.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I remember who I admired: Mickey Mantle and Neil Armstrong [Ed. Bet you didn’t realize the first man on the moon’s name spelled backwards is Gnort Mr. Alien]. But I have no memory of what I wanted to be. I’m still trying to figure it out.

 

Name a living person you admire. Why do you admire them?

I’m afraid I must be contrary again and define “living” as “recent.” And, because this person could have lived, had they not given up millions a year playing in the NFL. Instead Pat Tillman left a football career to join the Army post-9/11, became a Ranger, and then died from friendly fire in Afghanistan. Most people are held back from pursuing their passions and their causes when it conflicts with the more comfortable, easy route. It’s our humanness. Tillman truly inspires me.

 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

Not to care so much about whether people like me. Certainly, I want my friends and colleagues to like me. But, those I may hardly ever deal with or even see again – get over it, Jantz!

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

My wife Colleen and daughter Kayleigh, a family relationship built on our faith in God, and an enjoyable career that’s given me the ability to meet the needs of my family and also be directly involved in giving back to my community.

 

Bill Horn

Edgy Interview: Bill Horn

I don’t yell “fake news” often. Reporters have a job to do and tend to do it well. But the impression many get of Bill Horn from the media can be skewed. As the Edgy Interview often reveals, there’s another beautiful and uplifting side to our subject. In this interview, the longtime County Supervisor from North San Diego County talks movingly about his work to develop schools for impoverished Ugandan kids. Prepare to have your preconceptions of Bill challenged.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be a fighter pilot. I thought that would be so cool. I earned my pilot’s license by the time I was 14-year-old and joined the Army Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps (JROTC) in high school. But I learned that my eyesight wasn’t good enough to qualify to be a fighter pilot. I double majored in history and accounting at San Diego State University and enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation so I could go to Officers Candidate School (OCS). In January 1967, I began my military service in OCS on the Marine Corps Base at Quantico. Though I never flew a fighter jet, one of the greatest honors in my life was to command 270 Marines in combat for one year during the Vietnam War in 1968. I was 24 years old. When I finally made it home, I was a Captain with decorations that included a Bronze Star, Purple Heart, and four Vietnam Crosses of Gallantry.

 

Who shaped your thinking most on politics?

I would have to say my father is the one who most influenced my political views. He wasn’t a political man, but he taught me to be a quality person by example. He was a conservative, humble and a hard worker. He took pride in himself and his job. He had his coffee every morning and walked to work in his freshly pressed white shirt. My dad taught me responsibility, to put others before myself and stick to my guns and fight for what’s right. He taught me to be honest, to take control of my future and not to abandon people along the way. My father lived within his means. He was adamant about meeting all of his financial obligations and providing for his family. My father’s ideals were right in line with our Governor of California at the time, Ronald Reagan.

 

Tell us about the schools you’ve established in Uganda and how they came about.

In 2014, I met a humble young man from Uganda named Moses. While we were talking, he described the severe poverty and large number of orphans in his village in the Buikwe District of Uganda. Many of the village parents had died of AIDS and left children to fend for themselves. He told me that he and his wife had paid for six children from their village to go to a Christian school so they could have a better life. His story moved my heart so deeply that I decided to go see for myself if this was true. I traveled to Uganda in 2015 and after touring the tiny jungle village, I purchased 10 acres to build an elementary school. I secured a charter with the local government and we agreed that I would build the school but I would also be in control of the curriculum to ensure it was a Christian school. We hired villagers for the construction and named the school “Emmaus” after the biblical story of Jesus’ appearance on the road to Emmaus. In 2016, I purchased 19 additional acres to build a high school so my students could continue their education. The high school currently offers classes up to tenth grade. This year, one of my 7th grade students took a state standardized test and received the highest score in math in the entire Buikwe District! This child lives in a mud hut in the jungle! We are adding more classrooms to accommodate students up to 12th grade and are also building a science lab which should be done by the end of December. I have 735 students enrolled in the elementary school, 150 students attending the high school and 42 Ugandan teachers. I’m joining my teachers on a 3-day retreat this winter on Lake Victoria.

Along with the schools, I was given permission to drill wells in the village to provide clean water. There are three wells now and all of the water has been tested and is safe for consumption. We built a corn processing plant with the hope that one day it will sustain the entire school operation. It provides 18 jobs for local workers and they process about 20-30 tons a week. It has been thrilling and humbling to see how much life has changed for the children in this jungle village. Poverty and starvation are slowly giving way to education and hope. My work in Uganda has been one of the greatest blessings in my life.

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

I’d like to talk to several former presidents; George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant and Dwight Eisenhower top my list. If I had to choose one I guess I would say George Washington. I am most interested in his faith and how he knew what the Lord wanted him to do in life. I want to know how he used his faith to navigate his most challenging decisions as a leader and Founding Father of the United States of America. George Washington didn’t win huge victories on the battlefield but he was steadfast in his discipline and beliefs and I think the Lord blessed him and that ultimately led to his success.

 

If you could repeal one law, which would it be and why?

I don’t believe abortion should be legalized. I think it is so wrong to end a life like that… it’s just too valuable. Life is a gift, a privilege. Who are you to decide to take that away from someone? There are other options. No one needs to resort to ending a life. That child deserves a chance to live.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

My favorite music as a teen would have to be surf-style pop music. I loved the Beach Boys and I spent a lot of time surfing at the beach. I also liked the Kingston Trio. I learned to play guitar by ear so I would listen to their songs over and over. I also liked Elvis, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles and also Spanish Flamenco music. I loved the guitar work in the songs and would try to copy them. I also enjoy Swing music. I’m a good dancer because I had to practice a lot with my sister. Most guys my age wouldn’t dance but I would always go out there and dance. I would always get the girls too because I knew my way around a dance floor. Now, the only time I really listen to music is during the Christmas season. I like listening to Christmas music. Other than that, when I have the radio on it is tuned in to talk radio.

 

Tell us about your artistic talent(s).

As I mentioned, I am a really good Swing dancer and I will still hit the dance floor if I get the chance. I learned to play the guitar and also the drums. I never took formal lessons, but I got pretty good at mimicking what I heard. After serving time in combat in Vietnam, I had a tough time with flashbacks and nightmares. I learned how to paint as part of my therapy and I have a couple of my pieces on the walls at home.

 

First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

I can’t remember ever really going to concerts. I worked a lot, surfed a lot and I went to dances. I remember thinking concerts were a waste of money and time after my sister went to go see Ricky Nelson. She was a sobbing mess and I never understood it.

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it?

My favorite food is probably ribs from Phil’s BBQ or Mike’s BBQ. I also really enjoy Mexican food and Miguel’s white sauce is hard to beat.

 

What three things are must-haves in your fridge at all times?

I like to have cold bottles of water in my fridge. I also like string cheese and grapes. They’re my easy go-to snacks. And I like to have fresh strawberries and blueberries in my fridge along with some cool whip. Together they make the perfect dessert.

 

Favorite sport and why?

I like to watch football and I like to watch baseball. It works out perfectly because they’re different seasons. I was a soccer coach for 14 years. I’ll watch that sometimes, but it’s not my favorite. When it comes to participation, my favorite sports are definitely snow skiing and surfing. I used to ski nearly every weekend during snow season when I was a teenager. Through my mom’s work, I was able to stay free at a chalet in Mammoth. I could get free transportation up there and discounted lift tickets. By the time I went to college, I was on the ski team at SDSU as a downhill racer. When it wasn’t ski season I was surfing every chance I had at the end of Law Street in Pacific Beach.

 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

When I left the Marine Corps I worked in grocery for a short time and then I got a job with a large real estate company. I managed commercial property, learned about money, finances, construction, earned my license to broker and general contracting license. I was eager to learn and one of the owners really took me under his wing. I reported to him weekly and we would go over the company portfolio together and discuss new orders. He taught me basic principles on how to run a successful business and to grow my net worth. I learned budgeting skills, the importance of not over-spending, to keep an eye on the future and seek out opportunities. I watched him invest so that his money made money even when he wasn’t at work. I wanted my money to do the same. Instead of taking salary increases, I negotiated a percentage of each project and began to grow equity. I then consolidated and reinvested so that I wasn’t getting taxed on that portion of my income like I was on my standard income. His sharp mind for business and his willingness to teach me helped mold my career path and became the foundation for my success.

 

Tell us a good story from your time on the County Board of Supervisors.

I was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1995 and at my very first Board meeting we were asked to vote on whether the County should declare bankruptcy! Orange County had just declared bankruptcy a few weeks prior and the pressure was on. I remember thinking; my father would not approve. There has to be another way. I voted “no.” In 1997, I pushed hard for the County to sell the trash system for $184 million and to use that money to pay off bond debt. It was the catalyst that finally pulled the County out of a financial crisis. Today the County has earned a national reputation as one of the best managed and fiscally secure Counties in America.

 

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I see myself running my hotels in Solvang, managing my apartment buildings, rental properties and businesses. I will continue my work in Africa. Maybe I’ll look for another little village 100 miles away and start the process all over again. Knowledge is power and I want these children to have a chance at a real future. I want them to know there is a God in heaven who loves them and to learn about the scriptures. I want them to use their education to change their nation and to teach others to love their neighbors. In our country we value our freedom and liberty. These children from this tiny jungle village can have that too one day. Maybe they will be the ones to finally change their circumstance. I’m living proof that Jesus uses imperfect people to do great things.

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

I think my greatest accomplishment is my family. My wife Kathy and I have three incredible children: Julie, Angie and Geoff. They have families of their own and I now have eight grandchildren. Kathy and I just celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and I am retiring from my position as San Diego County Supervisor after 24 years in office. I look forward to spending more time with my family, traveling, reading, restoring more cars, and finishing my model railroad. I am also very proud of my service in the Marine Corps. I was young. I had to learn fast how to be in charge in combat in the unfamiliar jungles of Vietnam. The stakes were high and I felt the weight of that responsibility. I had to learn to supervise, delegate, be decisive, troubleshoot, stay confident, mask fear and protect my men. The Marine Corps trained me on all counts and made me the person I am today. It changed my life and led me to the Lord at the age of 27. I became a Christian and suddenly my life had new direction and purpose. I will never forget the friends I lost and I will always be grateful to our service members, veterans and their families. Semper Fidelis and God Bless.

 

Dan McAllister

Edgy Interview: Dan McAllister

Dan McAllister seems to have a nasty job. The Bible holds that tax collectors are vile and most people I know aren’t giddy with excitement at the thought of paying taxes “to the man.” But then there’s Dan, a gentleman with a sunny disposition who genuinely wants the process of paying taxes to be as painless as possible. I first encountered Dan in the political sphere during Susan Golding’s first run for Mayor. That ’92 race was extremely contentious, full of charges and counter-charges and wild accusations and, even, tears. But through it all, there was Dan staying on message when talking to reporters for the Daily Transcript, the Union-Tribune and TV stations. He was not only unflappable, but Dan was able to convey the right Golding message that cut through the clutter. In this interview 26 years later, I finally got a chance to learn what makes Dan McAllister tick.

 

What California issue interests you the most now? Why? And what should be done about it?

As the Treasurer-Tax Collector, I get involved in many things, particularly housing. My current job enables me to be more in touch with what is happening in the market, from an economic standpoint and a housing-needs standpoint. If the numbers are to be trusted and we are 145,000 housing units short of our present housing needs in San Diego County, then we have a lot of work ahead of us. I think pursuing a philosophy of collaboration is the best way out of this. My office deals with all the major banks in the region. We should seek to harness the finances and energy of these banks to work to resolve this issue, which is the lack of low/moderate income housing, housing for seniors, workforce housing, and housing for the disabled, veterans and homeless. The implications of this subject are far-reaching; all 18 cities, state and federal agencies, labor, and developers need to be part of this discussion. As an example, I am told that a community college district in Northern California, working in concert with other government agencies, has started to build their own housing for teachers and instructors to cut down on commute times. Petty revolutionary.

 

What’s the best thing about the USA?

We have so much freedom compared to the rest of the world. I’ve had a unique opportunity to travel around the world and meet people in many countries, as well as serve as a Peace Corps volunteer in a third-world country. Through these experiences, I developed keen perspectives that drive me every day – the sense that we live in a free country that enables us to pursue goals we’ve set for ourselves. It makes me proud to be an American.

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

I have great admiration for many presidents that have served this country – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, John Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan – but I am most intrigued by Harry Truman, because he was a local guy who came from local government on his climb to the presidency. He’s one of the presidents who started at the local government level. Tip O’Neill’s quote “All politics is local” makes me think that we need more local government influence in Washington, particularly from those who have served as a local elected official.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

Alexander Calder is widely considered to be one of the most important American sculptors of the 20th century. He is noted for his colorful, whimsical, abstract sculptures, his innovative mobiles, and his kinetic sculptures powered by air currents.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

I feel like a product not of one era but of multiple eras and genres. Growing up in Southern California, music from the 60s and 70s exposed me to everything from the Beach Boys to the Beatles, the Doors and Rolling Stones. I love listening to the many songs of these artists as well as the music of Motown and the amazing sounds of Aretha Franklin. I played drums in several garage bands growing up, so I’m attracted to music with a variety of beats. When I get a chance on Sunday afternoons, I enjoy listening to Xavier the X man on 92.5 FM as he plays oldies and offers interesting background commentary on a wide variety of musical artists from the 50s through the 80s. It’s intriguing to see the progress of music as it moves through the generations. I worked for several radio stations earlier in my career, so I’m familiar with their formats and music. Soul music had a huge impact on my life. It always delivered a message and a distinctive beat. There’s nothing better than a band with horns, a strong danceable beat and soul to make it happen. Recently the passing of Aretha stirred a lot of memories of listening to great singers rooted in gospel music. Nothing better!

 

Tell us about your artistic talent(s).

I played drums for a lot of years. We had a band where we found out that you can play at bars on a military base if you’re under 21, so as a high school student, I played at bars on the bases. My parents weren’t happy because it was always on a school night and they had to drive us. We’d go to NTC and play, and we got paid what seemed like a lot of money at the time, like $125. They didn’t care what it sounded like as long as they could drink and dance to it.

 

If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?

Cheeseburgers, chocolate shakes and frosted animal crackers!

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it?

In a macro way, there’s nothing better than living by the Pacific Ocean for fresh fish and other delectables such as squid, tuna, halibut and sea bass. When I was in the Peace Corps, I survived on a steady diet of ocean-fresh tuna. I can still out-eat anyone when it comes to fresh fish, rice and fresh fruit. Growing up, Anthony’s was the place to go for the best and freshest seafood. My parents rewarded good report cards with a dinner at Anthony’s.

 

Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

It’s a show that has never materialized, but I feel like I’d be the best competitor on a TV show about puns. If I could compete in puns, I am certain I would win.

 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

One piece of advice came from an industrial psychologist I worked with. He said the best managers are the managers who are guilty of “commission” rather than “omission.” Take a risk; you might fail, and you will fail at times, but if you don’t take the risk, you’re not going to elevate the discussion and ultimately move things along.

 

Tell us a good story about the Tax Collector’s office.

There are many great stories that all relate back to our staff. We have accomplished tremendous things over the last 16.5 years. We have a team that speaks 17 different languages, we’re attuned with diversity like no one else. We help customers at break-neck speed and have them leave happy and appreciative of the service we give. One day, about 10 years ago, we got our own version of a tax protest. I got called down during peak collection, where the lines were long and over-heated, and I was confronted by two or three protestors. This guy brought his property tax payment of $3,400 in bags, and he said, “Nothing gives you the right to tax us, so we’re going to pay in pennies.” By then the deputies were watching closely. This had never happened to us, so no one knew how to handle it. The guy started to pour the pennies over the counter. I said, “This isn’t going to work. I want you to pick every penny up and I want you to count out the $3,400 in pennies you brought us, and then you can pay the taxes.” So it took them an hour or two to count out the money and they paid and went on their way.

 

Who shaped your thinking most on politics?

It was a combination. When I was in elementary school at Kate Sessions in Pacific Beach, we used to listen weekly to programs about John F. Kennedy and his support for a new volunteer program called the Peace Corps, and that planted the idea of serving for me. In addition, my parents were really involved in giving back when I was a little boy. Many of the Native American tribes in San Diego County were very poor. My parents organized clothing and food drives to deliver to several reservations in the area during the holidays. I think that these were two experiences that propelled me into public service as well.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Get involved. I’ve told my own kids, I don’t care what you get involved in, just get involved (if it’s legal). I don’t care about your politics. Outside of that, I hope young people internalize the notion of giving back through public service. Before I was elected in 2002, I was honored by the Staples Foundation for my volunteer work and giving back to my community. As part of this recognition, the foundation awarded me $1,000 to contribute to the nonprofit of my choice. They also gave me my own tile at the entrance of the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Due to the size considerations, I was allowed to write a brief message on the face of my tile. In addition to my name, my message was: “GIVE BACK.”

 

If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

Italy is superb. It’s my favorite place outside of the US. Friendly and happy people, great history and great things to see.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted in the worst way to be a leader. I tried K-12 politics and it never seemed to pan out. I lost a few school elections, but there’s a time and a place for everything, and after my Peace Corps service and years in the business community, I ran for this office. It’s turned out to be a wonderful experience.

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment is producing two incredible kids. My daughter is an entrepreneur in Northern California after earning her degree in computer animation, and my son is in the Navy after graduating from the Naval Academy and earning his graduate degree from Johns Hopkins.

 

Ernie Droneburg

Edgy Interview: Ernie Droneburg

Ernie Dronenburg is something of a San Diego legend. Referred to affectionately by the editor’s 88-year old dad as “good ‘ol Ernie Dronenburg, the guy with the bow tie” it seems like he’s been serving in San Diego politics since Cabrillo landed. In reality, it was in 1978 that Ernie won his first of FIVE consecutive terms on the Equalization Board. The what? Yep, that’s what many voters say too. But Ernie toiled away minding the taxpayers’ money until he was termed out in 1998. Then he was appointed to the San Diego County Board of Education, serving through 2005. Based on his long public service and strong 20-year record as a property assessor, Ernie won a race for Assessor/Recorder/Clerk of San Diego County and was dubbed “the county’s chief paper shuffler” and has served in that capacity ever since.

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

Running for office in June of 1978 was a lucky break. That was the year of the property tax rebellion. Property taxes were unpredictable, skyrocketing, and some folks were selling their homes due to their property taxes. There was an anti-tax wave, and I was lucky to ride that wave to victory.

 

You’ve been a public servant for a long time. Which accomplishment are you proudest of?

Two great things happened in California in 1978. First, Proposition 13 was passed and second, I was elected for the first time. Subsequent to being elected to the California State Board of Equalization (BOE), I spent a significant amount of time writing the rules and regulations taking Proposition 13 from a two-page ballot proposition to the laws we have today. During my time at the BOE, I came to see first-hand the power of government against the individual taxpayer. To protect taxpayers from the scales of justice favoring government, as Chairman of the BOE I authored and led the passage of the California Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights in 1988. Institutionalizing the protection of taxpayers has been my proudest accomplishment. I continue that work today as the San Diego County Assessor. I’m proud to have established the first Taxpayers’ Rights Advocate office in the County of San Diego.

 

Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

President Ronald Reagan was a great American I identify with. Politically we think a lot alike and we were both college cheerleaders (although I am a proud SDSU alumni).

 

What cause is nearest and dearest to your heart and what action are you taking on it?

Helping people is near and dear to my heart. Through my service on the Salvation Army Board of Directors we serve the entire County of San Diego.

 

Tell us about your artistic talent(s).

In school my professors wanted me to become an artist, but I enjoyed engineering and drawing. I drew the plans for five houses and the addition to my current home

 

Who would you want to have play you in your biopic?

Steve McQueen the “king of cool.” I think he would look great in a bowtie.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

J.M.W Turner, a fine artist and English Romantic painter. The feelings captured in his paintings are fantastic.

 

If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?

Rolled tacos and guacamole. I love Mexican food and have avocado trees on my flower farm.

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it?

My wife is an exceptional cook. My favorite cuisine is whatever Marilyn makes. She actually is just now publishing her first cookbook called “Cypress Hill Farms Cookbook.” [ed—no relation, I’m sure, to Cali’s dopest hip-hop group] They are recipes for easy, yet impressive entertaining. I had the pleasure of testing all the recipes!

 

Favorite sport and tell us about your favorite moment.

My favorite sport is baseball. While I played rugby at SDSU and am a skilled unicyclist, I have very fond memories of my time as a bat boy for the then-minor league San Diego Padres at Westgate Park in Mission Valley. While that was my fondest sports memory as a member of the team, I actually topped that experience — thanks to Diana Puetz and the San Diego Padres — in 2018. They honored me with throwing the first pitch at a 2018 home game.

 

What item would you like to buy if it went up for auction and you had the money to afford it?

Picked up sailing in my 40’s and really enjoy time on the boat with my friends and family. Probably would buy a Beneteau Oceanis 35.1, the Rolls Royce of sailing yachts, to sail Catalina and throughout the Baja region.

 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

When I arrived in Sacramento, Kirk West, the then President of Cal-Tax and past California Chamber of Commerce President, gave me the best advice that helped me through my political career. Kirk said, “you can judge how well you are doing by knowing who is against you as well as who is for you.”

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Know who you are and always try to improve with the help of others.

 

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

I would have said “playing for the Padres,” but they can’t afford me after signing Manny Machado. I’ll be working my flower farm and helping people where possible.

 

Name a living person you admire. Why do you admire them?

Marilyn my wife. She is consistent and loves everyone.

 

What would you change about yourself?

Two inches taller and 30 pounds lighter.

 

Gorton Moore

Edgy Interview: Gorton Moore

It’s Father’s Day and we at News from the Edge have got a father-and-son special edition for you. We’ve convinced Steven Moore and his dad George Gorton to sit down for this month’s Edgy Interview. Actually, it was Moore’s idea… he has a lot of good ideas. It’s hard to know whether father or son is better travelled. They’ve both been around the world and then some. They also both work in politics, though George is more on the campaign side and Moore has been mostly on the legislative side. The little-known Gorton-CERC connection: George was CERC President John Nienstedt’s boss for awhile in 1986. He co-owned voter contact firm Direct Communication then, and Nienstedt (along with a couple other guys) ran phone banks in Texas from June through November that year. You could say there wouldn’t be a CERC without George Gorton.

 

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received and who gave it to you?

SM: I received massive amounts of professional advice from George Gorton, my sometime business partner, traveling buddy and frequent father. One thing I remember in particular is, after I had project that I was working on go south, I was down on myself. He said “It is bad enough that this unfortunate thing has happened to you. Making yourself feel worse about it doesn’t help.”

GG: Bob White told me: do the right thing and pay your taxes.

 

Who shaped your thinking most on politics?

SM: Again, George Gorton. I was adopted, and George is my biological father. My biological mother Linda Serros reunited us during my senior year in college. I was a journalism major at the University of Oklahoma and had a head full of liberal ideas. George taught me about the free market and that wealth redistribution always requires coercion. On a more micro level, I also had the amazing advantage of being able to go into meetings with him in which I had no business. I got to ask him at length about what had happened during the day. I’m very fortunate to have been reunited with George on several levels.

GG: Pete Wilson.

 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

SM: I’m just too damned good looking.

GG: I would have gotten rid of my temper earlier in life.

 

What’s the most important issue facing California, why, and what should be done about it?

SM: The existential issue facing California and the rest of the nation is overspending. California’s state and local debt including pensions is estimated to be as high as $2.9 trillion. If we wanted to pay it off, every Californian would have to donate all their earnings to the Franchise Tax Board through November 6th. With interest rates rising, the debt balloons. This does not end well. With compound interest at work, whatever bad happens could happen very quickly.

GG: Artificial Intelligence. Google has invented AI that has invented its own AI that is smarter than any AI invented by man. How we interact with this new super computer that is smarter than us may not be up to us. Like in 2001: A Space Odyssey, we may have a problem. The human side will be led right here in our own Silicon Valley. I hope they are ready.

 

What’s the best thing about the USA?

SM: I’ve visited more than fifty countries and lived for some time in seven or eight. As much as progressives complain about injustices in America, virtually everybody in the USA is better off than in their ancestral home. The median American household of Hispanic origin is more prosperous than the median household in every country in Latin America. And the median Asian-American household is more prosperous than the median household of every country in Asia. The median household for Americans of European heritage is more prosperous than every country in Europe, save Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg. If African-Americans were to form a country, their median household income would make it more prosperous than all but about 25 countries, including every country in Africa.

GG: It is a melting pot. People from Pakistan and India who would shoot each other on sight in their home country go to picnics together here.

 

Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

SM: Count Agoston Haraszthy, the founder of Buena Vista winery in Sonoma County. The Count took big risks, wasn’t afraid to try new things, made a difference in his communities and got to travel the world at a time when travel was not easy. Very interesting guy. He was a Hungarian nobleman who came to America in 1840 at the age of 28 and declared himself a count. He settled in Wisconsin, became an American citizen and never went back to Hungary. While in Wisconsin, he built a town now known as Sauk City. He was pulled to California by news of the gold rush. Rather than lust after gold, he decided to settle in San Diego in 1849. He opened numerous businesses and by 1850, he was elected sheriff, then to the Assembly in 1851. He began importing European grapes in this time frame. He moved to San Francisco to grow grapes. Realizing the climate was not conducive, he moved to Sonoma in 1856 and founded Buena Vista. In 1861, Governor John Downey sent Haraszthy to Europe to investigate best practices in wine making. By the mid 1860s, all of Buena Vista’s vines succumbed to disease and died. Haraszthy declared bankruptcy and in 1868 he moved to Nicaragua where he planned to develop a sugar plantation. In 1869, he was exploring a river near his property and was never heard from again. It is assumed he was either swept out to sea or eaten by crocodiles.

GG: Peter Pan. Not sure of his citizenship, but like Peter Pan, I never want to grow up.

 

If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

SM: I hitchhiked through Australia for about six months in 1991. People picked me up, took me home, fed me, got me drunk, let me spend the night then sent me along the next day with a sandwich. One young couple let me stay on their family plantation and taught me cricket. A year later, authorities began finding bodies of hitch hikers decaying in the woods. I’m sure hitch hiking is less prevalent in Australia these days. I’d love to return to those more innocent days.

GG: According to Albert Einstein, there is no place or time. There is only place time. I’m not quite sure what he means about that, but applying it to travel, I would pick an island in the South China Sea in 1985.

 

What was the last good movie you saw? Give me a one sentence review.

SM: Deadpool 2 – something to offend everyone.

GG: “Do you Trust this Computer?” This is a documentary which will scare the hell out of you.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

SM: Local San Diego photographer Kevin McIlwaine is an amazing artist. He was in finance, got burned out and left the corporate world because he always enjoyed photography. He started out doing weddings and now does corporate work, sports photography, artistic photos and so much more. He came out of retirement to shoot Katherine & my wedding in April. The photos are awesome.

GG: Peter Max. I like bright colors.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

SM: As a teenager, nothing but classic rock was blasting out of my car stereo – Allman Brothers, Grateful Dead, The Who and The Rolling Stones. I still listen to that genre but also get a lot of new music off of Sirius XMU, Spotify and by having Shazam at ready when I am out and about. My new wife (6 weeks) Katherine and I have Jack White tickets for September. We also like Tame Impala, Warpaint and others.

GG: When I was a kid, we didn’t have musical genres. I remember Elvis storming in with Hound Dog, Don’t Be Cruel, and All Shook Up. Now I like listening to The Mamas & The Papas, The Lovin’ Spoonful and The Doors.

 

Favorite sport and why?

SM: Football is a bunch of spoiled millionaires and billionaire owners trying to get taxpayers to subsidize their business. Baseball is fun in person (Go Padres!), but deathly boring on TV. At 5’6”, I never developed a taste for basketball. Katherine is a big hockey fan. We went to a Vegas game last December and caught the bug. We watched almost every Knights playoff game. I generally like sports I can do rather than watch – snowboarding, sailing, skiing, scuba diving and trail running spring to mind.

GG: I’m not a big sports guy. If forced to choose, I would pick football, because the willingness of voters to subsidize billionaire owners provides comic relief.

 

Favorite alcoholic beverage in winter and summer?

SM: Ketel One martini, dirty with three olives and a splash of vermouth. All-purpose drink. My take on James Bond’s drink. Really… does anyone stir martinis?

GG: Winter – martinis. Summer – margaritas.

 

Which reality TV show would you most like to compete on and why?

SM: I don’t watch reality TV shows, but isn’t there one where teams of people compete in an aroundthe-world race? If not, there should be. That would be huge fun. [Ed. The show you want to go on is The Amazing Race. It’s won like a dozen Emmys. Nienstedt and you should try out for it as a team and win the million-dollar prize.]

GG: The Kardashians for obvious reasons.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

SM: Leave. Go far away. Stay there for six months or a year. Come back and be a more well-rounded person. It doesn’t cost much in terms of money or time and it will make a huge difference in your life.

GG: Be prepared for two or three different careers.

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

SM: On one level, I’m pretty proud of being the Chief of Staff to the fourth ranking Congressman in House leadership. Within four years, we took him from being an endangered freshman on everyone’s target list to having an office under the Capitol Dome. We were in a position to do a lot of good for a lot of people, and we did. On another level, I was able to help a lot of people in Iraq. In 2004, two of my friends were killed, one Iraqi and one American. Suhair, the sister of the Iraqi who was killed, worked for me. When I found out Suhair’s sister was killed, I had to go tell her, and her family. Muslims believe the body has to be in the ground within 24 hours. I spent the next 24 hours trying to get the body to Suhair’s family. It was really rough having to share the family’s grief, but if I hadn’t gotten involved, it might have taken days or weeks for the family to find out. Or they may never have found out.

GG: The Russian presidential campaign was the biggest deal, being the National College Director of a U.S. Presidential campaign was the most fun, and the Governor’s races in California were the most challenging — all of them. [Ed. Check out Spinning Boris.]

 

Jason Roe

Edgy Interview: Jason Roe

I first got to know Jason Roe over lunch I’d invited him to at the old-school Bully’s North in Del Mar. I had a salad, he had some red meat dish. I pitched him on CERC’s abilities and how we help clients win. He listened and talked about how he wanted to build Revolvis in San Diego. We both put ourselves out there without pretense – something you don’t always get in the political game – and I found it refreshing. The result is that, in a tough local environment, we’ve won a lot more than we’ve lost on efforts we’ve partnered on. I expect that to continue with his new firm Roe Strategic. Here’s Jason at his unvarnished, revealing and direct best.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when grew up?

Believe it or not a political consultant. My father was executive director of the Michigan Republican Party for ten years and then became a consultant, so I grew up in the business. When I was leaving for college and told him what I wanted to do, he tried desperately to send me a different route and I remember him saying “it’s not a full-time job.” Well in his day maybe not, but it sure is today.

 

What’s the best thing about the USA?

There are so many things that are the cause of America’s exceptionalism but the effect is, in my opinion, the high standard of living. I’ve traveled to more than 30 countries, many of them in the developing world and witnessed poverty that Americans couldn’t possibly fathom. Two years ago I visited a refugee camp in Rwanda and met children who’ve never known anything but those camps. They live in mud huts with no electricity, no reliable source of food, and little hope of getting out. Compare that to the range of services and opportunities we provide to those who are willing and able to pull themselves out of poverty in the U.S., or care for those who can’t.

 

What’s the most important issue facing California, why, and what should be done about it?

The most pressing problem facing California is the power of organized labor. They literally control Democratic politicians at the state and local level. They have a stranglehold on the San Diego City Council, with five Democrats who won’t blow their nose without permission from their union masters.

 

If you could go back in time, which former President would you like to chat with and what’s the topic?

LBJ. I’d like him to walk me through his role in the assassination of JFK.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what is it now?

I grew up in an urban area in Michigan and only listened to hip-hop. A DJ in my neighborhood, Kenny White, used to sell mix tapes out of the trunk of his car and we’d get most of our music from him since they didn’t play rap on the radio. I still remember when Rapper’s Delight, Double Dutch Bus, and The Message came out when I was about 10. In high school, we’d drive to Detroit on Saturday nights so we could get the signal for WJLB and WHYT and record “The Wizard” and “The Electrifying Mojo,” two DJ’s who had late night mix shows. That’s the first time I heard the Beastie Boys, the song was a B-side called, “She’s On It,” and I was a fan immediately. I still have some of those tapes. I still listen to hip-hop but mostly old school, but love Rick Ross. Overall, I’m probably more of a classic rock fan today. Note: One of my classmates, Kwami Kilpatrick, was eventually elected the “Hip-Hop Mayor” in Detroit.

 

First concert you attended and how did it make you feel?

The first concert I tried to attend was Run-DMC/Beastie Boys “Together Forever” tour at the Fox Theater in Detroit. During the warm up act, Fishbone, the venue caught fire and was evacuated. After the fire was put out, they let everyone back in, but I had actually eaten my ticket (I had a bad paper-eating habit as a kid) so couldn’t get back in. My friend’s uncle owned a dive bar down the street, so I went there and slept on the bar while my friends went to the concert.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

Prince. A more talented and creative musician has never walked the earth.

 

Favorite sport and why?

Despite my deep animosity for the NFL, pro football remains my favorite. I actually broke up with my now wife in college prior to football season because I didn’t want the distraction of a girlfriend during the weekends. And we planned our wedding for August so I’d never have an anniversary celebration during the season. The year we married (20 years ago this year), the NFL decided to experiment with starting the season early and so I missed opening weekend flying to Hawaii for our honeymoon. I did get to watch the Bears-Packers game on MNF though.

 

What’s your favorite memory from sports and when did it happen?

There are two: The Michigan State Spartans victory over Stanford in the 2014 Rose Bowl and the 49ers-Bengals Super Bowl with my dad in Detroit in 1982.

 

Someone wants the best pizza in town, where do you send them and what should they get?

Bronx Pizza. It’s the best in the world and pizza should be pizza, not a cobb salad: cheese and/or pepperoni.

 

When you retire, what’s your second career going to be, if any?

I want to own a bar. Liberals have made that harder with their foolish minimum wage policies, but I still think it would be fun.

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

I was lucky by who my political mentors were, former California Congressman Jim Rogan (now a Superior Court Judge), and former Florida Congressman Tom Feeney (now CEO of Associated Industries of Florida), who both taught me about putting principles ahead of politics. Jim lost his seat in Dem-leaning district after serving as a House Manager during the Clinton Impeachment, and Tom stood up to the Bush Administration to oppose the Medicare Prescription Drug Bill (the largest expansion of the Great Society since LBJ) under intense pressure from every powerful political constituency under the sun. Both had every political incentive to take the popular route and both ignored it and paid a price.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out in your profession?

Go to Washington. No matter how low you are on the totem pole, there’s no place you can go to learn more about this business. Campaigns aren’t just wins and losses, they determine who makes policies that affect all of us. I think it is important to understand the impact campaigns have on governing and vice versa. It is also a very unique experience where you meet amazing people, see amazing things, and are in the city with more impact on the world than anywhere else on the globe.

 

If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

Egypt. I was there for a few weeks doing advance for Vice President Cheney after 9/11 and spent time in Cairo and Sharm el Sheikh. There is so much amazing history there and while those two cities are polar opposites, both are incredible. (I also went on safari in Tanzania two years ago, that was pretty damn cool).

 

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

To be born into great wealth and never have to work. I’d be an amazing dilettante.

 

Jerry Kern

Edgy Interview: Jerry Kern

In Competitive Edge’s three decades we’ve had many successes that make us proud. We love helping clients win in whatever arena they find themselves. One of our most gratifying efforts was helping Oceanside City Councilman Jerry Kern beat back an attempted recall. Not only did we assist his campaign in crafting the message that would take him to victory and vindication, our poll was spot on. Yeah, we know that frequently happens; it’s what we’re paid to do. But in Kern’s case we conducted the poll five months before the election.

 

What’s the most important issue facing California, why, and what should be done about it?

One of the most important issues facing California today is the housing crisis. We are starting to lose the Millennial Generation to other states because of the cost of housing. The median income for a family of four in San Diego is approximately $79,300. Using HUD’s definition of affordability, that would qualify for an apartment renting for about $2,000 per month or a home priced around $340,000. Currently the median price of a home in California is $553,490. When housing costs are considered, San Diego County’s poverty rate rises from the official 14.5% to 21.5%. This is what’s causing our next generation to look for jobs and opportunity elsewhere. Government is a huge part of the problem. Currently, more than 40% of the cost of a house is the result of fees and regulations, and that doesn’t take into account the cost of processing delays. If we are serious about solving this issue, we must lower the cost of government and streamline the process.

 

There are lots of proposals for education reform. What would you change and why?

As a founder of a charter school, I think the charter movement is the most important education reform that will help California and move us out of 49th place in national education rankings. Charter Schools have forced school districts across the state to become more responsive to the needs of the students and have given parents options to find an education that best fits their child. The other reform I would like to see is more opportunity for Career and Technical Education (CTE). We need to equip our students with the job skills that will be in demand in the future. This doesn’t always involve a four-year degree, but it’s about helping students develop a skillset that provides them with the opportunity to be successful. I think it is a disservice to our next generation to push them to get a degree that has little or no value, while burdening them with crushing student loan debt without any way of paying it back. In reference to the housing crisis, one of the reasons Millennials are unable to afford housing is that they are carrying a large amount of debt even before they start looking to qualify for a home loan.

 

Which American from history do you identify with most and why?

The American I most identify with is President Theodore Roosevelt. Mainly, because I just finished reading his biography and I appreciated his willingness to try new ideas. My favorite quote is “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.”

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

My wife, Blake Kern, is my favorite artist. She does altered books, collage cards, shadow boxes and more. I have two of her paintings hanging in my City Hall office. You can follow her on Instagram.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what is it now? What music are you listening to these days?

I grew up in the 60’s when only AM radios were available in our cars and at home. Fortunately, the pop stations of the time were very eclectic. In a four-song set you would hear the Beatles, Johnny Cash, Marvin Gaye, and Peter, Paul and Mary. I still think it is the best decade for music period. I still listen to different genres with no particular favorite. I also mix in classical with George Frideric Handel being my favorite.

 

What’s your favorite memory from sports and when did it happen?

I grew up playing baseball. I played from eight years-old through high school and would smuggle in a transistor radio to school to listen to the World Series because they were day games back then. My fondest memory is teaching my son to play the game and seeing him hit a grand slam to win a high school tournament game at San Diego State Stadium. However, I have been working for almost the past nine months to bring a minor league soccer team to North County. After a year in, San Diego team 1904 should be starting their second season in Oceanside in 2019.

 

If you were a competitive eater, which food would be your specialty?

Hot dogs would be my area of expertise. I probably have consumed thousands of them watching baseball games over the years. I still make them when I watch a ball game at home.

 

What is your favorite alcoholic beverage in winter and summer?

My absolute favorite beer is San Luis Rey Red by Oceanside Ale Works. I can drink it year-round, but in the winter I tend to drink Scotch and water.

 

When you retire, what’s your second career going to be, if any?

Local government is my second career. I am a retired high school teacher. I taught history, civics and economics and I have no further aspiration beyond the Supervisor’s position.

 

Who shaped your thinking most on politics?

Most of my political thinking was shaped by my high school and college social science teachers. Looking back, I think most of my instructors were moderately conservative, I would call them Eisenhower Republicans. On the other hand, my English teachers were out there on the left edge somewhere. I did better in history than English.

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out in your profession?

For a young person either going into politics or teaching I would give them the same advice: Listen. Understand what others are truly saying and act on it based on your core values. Today we tend to talk at each other and not to each other.

 

If you could return to a place you’ve traveled, where would you go?

I would like to return to England. I spent 2 ½ years there while I was in the United States Air Force. I really enjoyed the museums, the history and the people (I could almost understand them most of the time.) It was a great base to see the rest of Great Britain and other European counties.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when grew up?

When I was growing up I dreamed of playing centerfield for the Dodgers. The Dodgers came to LA the year I started Little League. Centerfield was the glamour spot in the Major Leagues at the time with Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle and Duke Snider. [ed. Little known fact: before Jerry Coleman, Duke Snider was the voice of the Padres.]

 

What do you consider to be your greatest accomplishment?

My greatest accomplishment by far is 46-year of marriage and raising two really great kids and watching them grow into responsible, caring adults.

 

Jim Desmond

Edgy Interview: Jim Desmond

San Diego County Supervisor Jim Desmond rose from being a San Marcos City Councilman, to Mayor of that city and was elected to his current position last year. Competitive Edge had the pleasure of conducting extensive polling for Jim in both his Primary and General Election races. In the latter, Jim racked up the most votes of any Republican elected official in the county. With a demeanor that’s approachable and engaging, it’s not hard to see why Jim is such a successful vote-getter.

 

When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

When I was a kid I wanted to grow up and be an astronaut. I didn’t quite make it, but I was close, becoming a pilot!

 

Which accomplishment as an elected official are you proudest of?

It may sound trivial, but the accomplishment I’m most proud of when it comes to government is getting rid of the parking spaces for elected officials in San Marcos. When I became Mayor of San Marcos, myself, along with the City Council and City Manager, had our own designated spots at the front of the building. I always thought that was silly because we serve the people of San Marcos. I was able to make the change and have all elected officials park in the normal parking structure.

 

Who is your favorite artist — any medium – and why?

I love Eric Clapton, he’s someone I grew up watching and listening to. I think he’s the best guitar player in the world.

 

What was your favorite musical genre as a teenager and what are you listening to now?

Growing up I loved rock and roll, which is where my love for Clapton comes from. When I’m driving around town now, I still like listening to rock and roll. I have XM radio so the two stations I listen to the most are classic rewind and underground garage.

 

Favorite cuisine and where do you get it?

Having lived in San Diego the majority of my life, I love Mexican food. My go-to spot is Mr. Taco in San Marcos. The Carnitas Burrito ($5.75) is my usual order.

 

What three things are must-haves in your fridge at all times?

Walnuts, peanut butter and eggs… I know… very exciting!

 

What’s the best professional advice you’ve received and who gave it to you?

The best professional advice that I ever received came when I first got my job at Delta. There was an old Capitan who told me to ‘keep your first wife.’ Best advice I’ve ever received! Love you, Kerri!

 

Most people say they got a lucky break at some point. Tell us about yours.

I feel like I’ve received many lucky breaks throughout my career, probably the biggest one was when I was hired as a corporate pilot. I was going on the path of becoming an engineer and that’s what I got my degree in at San Diego State University. I made the career change to become a pilot and haven’t regretted it at all!

 

What advice do you have for young people starting out?

Volunteer! Volunteerism makes the world a better place. I started volunteering within San Marcos and people started giving me more responsibility, which led me to run for City Council and then Mayor.

 

What item would you like to buy if it went up for auction and you had the money to afford it?

If I had all the money in the world and could buy one thing, I’d probably buy my own jet. The problem is the cost for upkeep, gas and a hangar it all adds up very quickly. It’s much better to know someone who has a jet!

 

What do you see yourself doing in 10 years?

In 10 years, I see myself retired and traveling around the world.