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You know something is very wrong when parents are told their kids will be able to walk to school... and the school doesn't get built until those kids are all grown up and have their own kids...

 

This is the story of Dr. Jonas Salk Elementary School in San Diego.  It is also the story of how I came to think about running for Congress.

In 2009 I was elected to our local Community Planning Group.  I joined after successfully pushing past the excuses of the local bureaucracy to get a four-way stop sign and crosswalk installed at an intersection in my neighborhood - after providing first aid to a young lady who, along with her nine year old niece, were struck by a car.  It was one of those intersections that makes you think: "Something bad is going to happen here one of these days."

I listened as long time members of the group would wring their hands over the litany of excuses offered to them for why this school was not being built.  The money had been raised in 1998 (fully eleven years prior) in a bond issue.  We would ask our local City Council and be told "that's a school board issue."  We would ask the school board and would be told "U.S. Fish & Wildlife keeps changing the rules on us."

Both excuses were correct.  But they were still excuses.

Together with another relatively new member, I began raising questions about what had been done to involve our congressional representative.  (Long time locals will remember him well: Brian Bilbray).  I began building a relationship with the congressman's staff, and we convinced the planning group to formally engage.

This was when everyone was talking about "shovel-ready projects."

When the opportunity presented itself at a local street fair, we took our congressman aside to a demonstration and showed him the site on a map and discussed the problems the school district was facing. I looked at my congressman and said: "You guys keep talking about shovel-ready projects.  We have one right here, waiting for someone to lead..."

And Congressman Brian Bilbray did just that.  He brought the matter up to the Speaker of the House and was able to schedule hearings in Washington, D.C.  San Diego school officials testified, and Congressman Bilbray - not satisfied with the excuses made by the bureaucracy - wrote a short Bill.  His legislation simply gave U.S. Fish & Wildlife ninety days to conclude their permit review.  If they failed to do so, San Diego Unified would be considered permitted to build the school.

This kind of Bill is not really meant to become law; it is meant to be a shot across the bow of a recalcitrant bureaucracy: "Do your job, or we will do it for you."

And it worked exactly as intended.  Shortly thereafter U.S. Fish & Wildlife issued the required "incidental take permit."  All other requirements fell into place quite quickly.  This Fall (2017) will be the third year students will be starting classes at Dr. Jonas Salk Elementary.

It was at the ground breaking for the school - shortly after Congressman Bilbray lost the seat - that I began thinking about running for Congress.

Dr. Jonas Salk Elementary School is an object lesson in American civics.  The very last words of the First Amendment guarantee our right to "...petition government for the redress of grievance."  An engaged, active community of volunteers did just this.  And we were met by the initiative and leadership of someone in Congress who understood the challenges local leaders face.

'Initiative and leadership' are not hard concepts to define or grasp.  All you have to do is watch how someone responds to the litany of reasons 'why we can't' offered by bureaucracies. Does the 'representative' accept these reasons and then merely parrot the excuses when questioned by their constituents?  Or does the representative refuse to accept 'why we can't' - initiating a search for 'how we can'?

This is the difference between leadership and excuses.

I have a proven record in my community of refusing to accept excuses, and overcoming them with leadership.  I would like to bring this record, passion, initiative, and leadership to Congress on your behalf.


John Horst Win the Future Congressional Campaign Committee
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