This Tuesday December 9th the 35th state senate district is up for grabs, four candidates have certified their interest.
First, there's James Spencer, a Republican from Inglewood, CA. I believe that party leaders should be interested in the outcome of this race. Democrats have been turning on issues dear to African-Americans for years, including gay marriage. This district voted almost two-to-one for Prop 8 in 2008, even though the district has fallen in line for Democratic candidates, statewide and federal, for the last two election cycles.
A Republican is running to replace disgraced Roderick Wright in the state senate, and his position in the legislature would assist local leaders seeking to improve local schools, expand job opportunities, and increase public safety.
His name is James Spencer.
I recently had a chance to speak with candidate Spencer on the phone, and get information on his campaign.
While discussing his campaign, with election Day coming on December 9th, Spencer highlighted the below key issues:
We have a problem with high incarceration because people can't jobs.
His biggest problem with the Republican Party has been messaging:
This is a simple message. If you are going to cut welfare, explain why you're going to cut. Why are you shutting down the government.
He then pointed out how Democrats work with the public:
The Democrats rile people up. "The Republicans are going to cut social security." So people vote to protect their money. You need to explain to people so that they have a better understanding.
One of candidate James Spencer's key interests is education:
I support the voucher system, Think about it. "Its for the children", people say. How much more money are we going to give to the schools before we see a product? We have the lottery for the school districts. We add taxes on property for school. The government has to pay money . Half the budget goes to schools. But why aren't we getting a better product? We are spending $8,000 per kid. I would like to give that money to the parents themselves and let them pay scientists to teach their kids, then save the rest of the money for college.
The argument about public funding, and the lack of results, cannot be ignored. The number one challenge to vouchers and school choice often reverts back to "We need to give the schools more money." Yet with all the funding, the dysfunctions of public education has only gotten worse. How much longer are parents willing to wait for more money to make education "more better"?
If you look at, look at all the money we are wasting, and we not getting anything for it. All of our kids should be in top-notch schools. We are not getting in return. We have a high dropout rate. We need to sit down with the kids and ask them "Why aren't you going to school?"
Mr. Spencer also stressed the importance of reintroducing trade skills into schools.
We had high schools which specialized in trade skills, specialized training. On the other hand, kids go to college, get hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt, and they get a job paying only $30,000 a year.
Now, every pundit and political operative has to be realistic about the stats on the ground. This district is overwhelmingly Democratic. Yet over the last two years, the Democratic Party has been practically sticking its eye in black voters, rejecting school choice, the definition of marriage, depriving working people of employment opportunities.
The question remains: What is your ground game, Mr. Spencer?
If we can get the Republican Party up and running, and we are getting into newspapers. We don't have $300,000 to spend.
Yet candidate Spencer was confident that he would not need the money.
Your cell phone is like your own private office now. We are basically able to do everything we need to through our phone. Social media is the thing now. Half the people don't even know that there is an election now. Isadore Hall has been sending out mail for getting elected to Assembly, then voters are going to ask: Didn't he just run for office?
We both acknowledged that an unusually low turn-out will help Republican chances, since they more often vote, regardless of the year. Did Spencer think he could force a run-off? Commenting on the most likely challenger to his chances, Assemblyman Isadore Hall (D-Compton), Spencer answered:
I know we can make it into the Top Two, if we have the Democrats who are tired of the old network. Isadore Hall] has been on the school board, the city council, the state assembly, and what has changed? Nothing. He is going with the same program. His brochure says the same thing he's going to do when he first got elected. He says "Create good jobs." He has been in these offices, and where are these jobs? Where are the programs so that everyone is working. He is a former school board member. Keeping neighborhoods safe. He was a deputy sheriff. Are any of the communities he represents, are they safe?
He brought up Inglewood Unified School District, which is now in receivership. Compton Unified also ended up in receivership. And who was in charge when these school districts were failing?
This is all the Democrats. They are supposed to be helping the poor and disenfranchised What's happened. They are more disenfranchised.
He faulted President Obama and his wife Michelle, who for all the pretenses, have actually harmed African-Americas:
Obama cut the DC voucher program. Republicans should have run on that. Michelle wants to run around and tell me how to eat? She wants everyone to get by on two carrots sticks and a slice of apple. The Republicans have to stop letting the Democrats say that they are the rich, and the Democrats are poor.
With a strong message, an active ground game, and an alert conservative electorate interested in better education and economic opportunity, James Spencer has a chance to win the state senate district and start expanding GOP outreach to communities which have shared Republican values, but have yet to hear Republican operatives tell them: "You are one of us!"
Reminder: The special election for State Senate District 35 takes place on December 9th, 2014. If no one candidate gets a simple majority, the top two candidates will compete in a run-off election to be determined. The Secretary of State has qualified these four candidates to run in the special election, including Harbor Planning Commissioner Hector Serrano, retired classroom teacher Louis Dominguez, along with assemblyman Isadore Hall and businessman James Spencer. Residents in North Torrance, Gardena, West Carson, San Pedro, Wilmington, Carson, Compton, Inglewood, and South Los Angeles (including West Athens) will be able to vote in this election.
Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance.
Twitter -- @ArthurCSchaper