Supervisor hopefulsays 'radical Left'is a factor in race
Two names will appear on the ballot for District 1 Del Norte County Supervisor.
Neither has a "D," an "R," or any other sign of political party next to it.
But as the Nov. 6 general election draws near and ideological lines deeply divide state and national contests, Del Norte's run-off county race seems to follow suit in words, if not under official labels.
In a Sept. 6 email soliciting campaign donations addressed to "Conservatives and fellow Patriots," District 1 candidate Roger Gitlin wrote:
"If you can contribute, any financialgift is great (sic) appreciated. I will have the full force of the radicalLeft doling (sic) everything in its power to defeat me. I represent a point of view that opposes massive government expansion, a welfare State mentality, and onerous layers of bureaucracy that impede the road to prosperity."
His opponent is Leslie McNamer, a two-term incumbent and, like Gitlin, a registered Republican.
Gitlin finished first in a three-way June primary race, garnering 43.8 percent of the vote. McNamer got 41.6 percent. Shortly thereafter, the county's Republican Central Committee unanimously endorsed Gitlin, a member of the Del Norte Tea Party Patriots, which isn't considered a political party.
The GOP won't be sending out any mailers on Gitlin's behalf, said party Chairman Scott Feller, "but he can put that he was endorsed by the Republican Party of Del Norte on his mailers."
Partisanship wasn't a big talking point during the primary campaign, and Gitlin's campaign website includes a platform dealing with local issues.
It does not include any links to his extensive political commentaries, which were published throughout the primary campaign in the West Ranch Beacon, an online newspaper based in Los Angeles County. His most recent tract came out in August, while monthly opinion submissions to the Triplicate ended in February, shortly before he filed his candidacy in District 1.
Gitlin said this week that he won't be writing anymore for the Beacon until after the election.
He declined to be interviewed for this article.
"I will stand by my website and any comments that I've written," he said.
Excerpts from the Beacon
"The barking seals of the Left," is an oft-used turn of phrase in Gitlin's writings, as is "leeches, moochers, victims and entitlement-seekers," which he says form the voting base of the Democratic Party. He refers to the governor of California as "Alzheimer-challenged," the president of the United States as "Muslim-in-Chief," "an America-hating ideologue," "anti-Christian, pro-Muslim and a closet black racist." In another post, he characterizes "21 Democratic Senators; 435 Representatives and one very vulnerable President" as simply "scourge."
His views on illegal immigration are perhaps the most recurring. Gitlin founded the Santa Clarita Independent Minutemen, which opposes any pathway to citizenship for undocumented workers in the United States.
"When someone calls me a name for expressing an opinion, that person automatically loses credibility and the argument," Gitlin wrote to the Santa Clarita Valley Signal back in July 2010, around the time he moved to Crescent City.
In this case, the name Gitlin was being called was "racist."
"If I point out these idiotic statements made by these politicians to you, does that make me a racist?" he asked readers. "When I was growing up, racists were men like George Lincoln Rockwell of the American Nazi Party and Robert Shelton of the Ku Klux Klan."
A 1,000-plus-word piece entitled "Is it OK to use the word Negro?" appeared in the Beacon about a month later, posted in the wake of a controversy after Gitlin urged people to watch an internet video, "Barack the Angry Negro."
"To my thinking, the word Negro takes one back to a period of black self-sufficiency and pride. The word Negro reminds of an older generation which faced real discrimination, thus Negroes banded together to help one another," Gitlin wrote.
In December 2011, Gitlin interviewed two black people for their take on Obama's policies, concluding that "The masses of unhappy Black voters who feel slighted by an Administration that marginalizes and dismisses them in favor of coddling the steady influx of illegal immigrants, are going to speak out soon."
In an October 2011 piece addressing an Occupy Wall Street protestor's anti-Semitic remarks, he wrote that "Blaming Jews for the problems of the world has been going on for centuries," the next month opining: "The latest jungle of Jew haters are mostly young underachieving Whites and Blacks. All are painfully ignorant."
The Tea Party is attached to Gitlin's name at the end of nearly every Beacon post and is referenced in many of them.
"The battle has just begun and there will be more name calling, insults, and deriding levied against the Tea Party messengers. But do not relent. Do not weaken. This is your finest hour with more victories to come," he wrote in August 2011.
His most-recent opinion piece in the Triplicate, from February 2012, was called: "Make DN a sales tax-free zone."
He ran a different editorial in the Beacon that month, musing about his decision to run forlocal office:
"In general, I have mixed feeling about politicians. On one hand, I admire so the politician who speaks his mind, answers questions directly and honestly, leads rather than follows the voter ... Conversely, the politician who panders to both sides in an attempt to curry the voter, changes his/her points of view like an ocean breeze, repulse and sicken me ... I have yet to make up my mind, but I am pondering very seriously whether I can make the difference I preach in the temple of public opinion, via my omnipresent commentaries."
As in almost all his recent Beacon writings, he signed off: "Take back American 2012."
'These are simply issues'
All local elections are nonpartisan, according to California's constitution.
"Meaning you don't run as a Democrat or a Republican. You just run. The idea was you find the best person to do the job, rather than someone who got the job because of party connections," said Kathleen Lee, a lecturer in political science at Humboldt State University, who's taught California government courses over the last 20 years there and at the College of the Redwoods.
She said she was unfamiliar with this Del Norte County supervisor race.
"You don't see a lot of fireworks in local government. In local politics you are going to run into these people in the grocery store and your kids are going to play on the same Little League team, so it tends to create a situation of more civility and openness," she said by phone.
"The work of local government does not lend itself to highly partisan political discourse," Lee added in a later email."Counties are administrative units of state government and have very limited policy-making powers.For the most part the only area of local control is land use (i.e. zoning). Local elected officials are primarily engaged with trying to solve local problems within the framework of state and federal law."
McNamer said she's "never been real involved in web pages," although she has read Gitlin's online commentaries.
"I just think he spends a lot of time on the internet. A lot of time ... I think he's a radical and I think he's self-important. That's exactly how I feel about him. He's not in this for this community. He's in this for himself. He's in this to have a stage."
At an April campaign luncheon with the Republican Women Federated, Gitlin was asked how he would approach voting on a nonpartisan board, given his comments in the Beacon.
He responded: "I don't look at myself as someone who's driven by ideology. These are not Democrat, these are not Republican issues, these are simply issues."
Reach Emily Jo Cureton at firstname.lastname@example.org .