Editor’s note: Three names will appear on the ballot for the Assembly District 71 race. However, Leo Hamel has withdrawn from the race, but not in time to have his name removed.
Centrist Republican Tony Teora repeats his run for Assembly District 71, this time against Santee Mayor Randy Voepel. Voepel, a conservative, is favored in the race both by money raised, name recognition in East County San Diego and establishment endorsements.
In his run in 2014, Teora, a New Jersey native and engineering graduate of Rutgers University, took about 24 percent of the vote in the June primary. He moved to San Diego in 1994 and currently serves as a vice president, data solutions manager for Union Bank. He also is a published writer of seven science fiction books. He lives in Julian with his wife and son. He serves on the Julian Chamber of Commerce, is a member of the Sons of the American Legion Post 468 in Julian and is a Freemason, Lodge 35.
Teora said he is running again to bring smart solutions to major problems facing California. “I’m also running to make this world a better place for my [18-month-old] son.” With an engineering background and additional coursework in computer science (University of Maryland), IT executive education (Harvard Business School) and Japanese (University of Maryland), Teora touts his logical and scientific approach to problem solving.
He also believes straight party line voting by career politicians never solves the problems facing everyday voters. “As an engineer, I look at math and statistics,” he said. “Real poverty is rising, and many Republicans won’t acknowledge the imminent threats of climate change.”
Teora said California needs centrists who can cross party lines to get the work of the people done. “Political gridlock is a result of straight party line voting.” As with his 2014 run against Jones, he believes Voepel, as a staunch conservative, also will vote along party and strict Republican-issue lines. “If non-politicians like myself can’t get in [to elective office], then we have a problem. This war between Republicans and Democrats is a waste of time.”
Teora is pro-choice, sides with Democrats on gay rights and believes government must begin to take steps to face the very real threats of global climate change. “Millions of people will die with climate change,” he said. “And those that are most threatened are often the least equipped to deal with these changes. We need to adapt with the times.”
He believes the current educational system needs to be revamped to provide more student loans for non-academic fields — for becoming an electrician, a dental assistant, a legal assistant or a certified car mechanic. “What about more trade schools for computer training?” Teora asked.
Teora characterizes himself as a fiscal conservative dedicated to not solving all problems through taxation. But he does believe if deficits can’t be fixed by cutting spending, then revenue must be raised and appropriate new taxes must be considered.
As a rural resident of San Diego County, he wants to see strong fire protection but opposes the fire protection fee because it was not approved by voters.
Teora acknowledged he is remiss in not having visited this part of the assembly district that he seeks to represent. He has scheduled a meet-and-greet trip to Idyllwild for 11 a.m. Saturday, May 21.
“I strongly believe in the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “I will vote my conscious and not that of a political action committee, a special money interest or even the party line if I do not agree that vote is in the best interests of the people.
“I’m not a career politician and I think that is a good thing. My public finance forms are available to the public. I do not accept one penny from special interests or corporations. Try to find another candidate in a major party that can make that honest claim.”