Election 2008: Issues and Facts versus Attacks

Posted on 31 October 2008

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Anyone could assume the headline refers to the presidential campaign, but it doesn’t. Instead, it refers to the California race pitting substance against rhetoric: the heated race for the 78th Assembly Seat being fought in San Diego County.

Marty-Block-2008.gifMarty Block, the Democratic candidate hoping to win the seat being vacated by termed out Republican Shirley Horton, (pictured right) is no stranger to San Diegans. Welcoming the moniker “The Education Candidate”, Block has a long educational resume and continues to be a tireless advocate for youth. He is currently President of the San Diego Community College Board of Trustees, a former professor, dean and director at San Diego State University and a former President of the San Diego County Board of Education. His wife, as well, is an education advocate and is a teacher with the San Diego Unified School District.

When Block announced his candidacy for the 78th Assembly Seat, no one thought it would be a cake walk, and it hasn’t been. When other Democratic candidates in the primary race faced off in town hall meetings or debates, the questions from audience members and press alike centered on education, jobs and health care.

Conspicuously absent from each community gathering, however, was Block’s Republican opponent John McCann. The statement read each time by the moderator for whatever group was holding the assembly was similar: “He hasn’t replied, but we hope he’ll show up.” And at nearly every event, Marty Block was left sitting opposite an empty chair, the only visage of McCann was a cardboard name placard placed in his stead.

It was missed by no one that the absence of the Republican candidate could mean one of a few things. Either he didn’t care enough about the community to discuss issues of importance to them, or since he was running unopposed in his own primary, there was no need for him to appear at public gatherings.

Whatever the reason for his absence, Block’s Republican opponent missed a golden opportunity: the ability to meet the residents whose vote each candidate must count on. It was those forums that allowed Block to convey his solutions to problems facing San Diegans and perhaps just as importantly, the gatherings gave him the ability to listen to concerns the very people he hopes to represent.

One of the first congratulatory calls received after Block won the primary was from Arlie Ricasa, a Trustee with the Sweetwater Union High School District and one of his Democratic opponents during the primary. She immediately pledged her support and vowed to be available to campaign as much as the Block team would want. Dr. Maxine Sherard, another strong primary opponent, followed suit and spoke of the importance of bringing people together to tackle problems that not only face residents in the 78th District, but all of San Diego and California. The harmony of a unified party joining together at fundraisers and events for Block was met with enthusiasm by the many residents who attended.

As the general election began in earnest, the message of jobs, economy and healthcare from the Block campaign was met with accusations, untruths and a lot of mud from his opponent.

Block vowed to stay on topic. As he mentioned at a recent gathering of friends, “I’m no spring chicken, I’m not in this race to climb the political ladder. I’m in this race to fight for San Diego’s fair share from Sacramento.”

Bewildering as it might seem, Block’s opponent has run a campaign that seems to be based on television and print hit pieces that cite and distort specific incidences that occurred during some of those very forums that McCann refused to attend.

So upset was one group who was cited in a McCann hit piece, the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club, that their president Vivian Sherrill wrote letters to the editors of several local newspapers. In those letters she said, in part:

“Republican candidate John McCann is deliberately distorting the truth… he is using the Eastlake-Bonita Democratic Club to do it… he incorrectly quotes Marty Block … and I know this because I am President of the Club, and chaired the event.”

She continues:

“…incidentally, Mr. McCann did not even attend the event…McCann, it seems, is more interested in slinging mud than in getting his facts straight… Mr. McCann should be ashamed of himself.”

If that were all, it would be enough. But the McCann camp even went so far as to claim that Marty Block was weak on crime. Another perplexing accusation, as Marty Block is endorsed by the San Diego Police Officers Association (SDPOA), The Deputy Sheriff’s Association of San Diego County, California Association of Highway Patrolmen, California Correctional Peace Officers Association, Peace Officers Research Association and others. Is the McCann camp saying that San Diego Law Enforcement is weak on crime?

This so angered the SDPOA that they issued a stinging condemnation of McCann and went so far as to contribute to a television spot that is currently airing on San Diego network stations.

No one would argue the Block media campaign is not slick, but it isn’t supposed to be. The message is centered on issues of concern to the district and solutions to those very issues.

And while John McCann continues to run a campaign of rhetoric, Block gains the support of a wide and diverse group of people. Both conservatives and progressives have heard his message and know he is the right candidate who can move beyond party politics and work for bettering the region and all of California.

Will Block’s message of finding solutions to issues win out against the rhetoric of made up quotes and misinformation? We won’t know until November 4th. But one thing we do know: Marty Block is a dedicated candidate who has spent time trying to find solutions to problems. A win for Marty Block in the 78th District will ultimately be a win for everyone in California.

For a listing of supporters of Marty Block, please visit www.martyblock.com

David Glanzer is Communications Director for the Marty Block for 78 AD Campaign. Heading Howard Dean's call to get involved in local politics after the disappointing 2004 presidential election, Glanzer returned to political communications after a nearly two decade absence. Impressed by Block's long history of dedication to community, volunteerism and progressive activism, Glanzer was happy to accept the offer to join the Marty Block for State Assembly Campaign.