The June 6 Primary Elections for the 51st Congressional District, will determine which Democratic candidate, the current incumbent Congressman Bob Filner or the termed-out Assemblyman Juan Vargas will be, for all intents and purpose, the next representative for the 51 Congressional seat.
Vargas has run against Bob Filner twice before, losing both times. But, what makes this race a bit more interesting than in the past is that the District has been redrawn with major input from Vargas to create a Hispanic super majority, with the intent of making it voter friendly for Vargas. There was one small problem with the newly created District. Mr. Vargas drew up; his home was excluded by a block from being within the district he wished to represent! Several months ago Mr. Vargas had to move into Chula Vista.
Each and every time that Vargas has chosen to run against Bob Filner, a fellow Democrat, we have asked ourselves this one question: Can he do more for the District than Bob Filner? Each and every time we have come to the same conclusion - NO!
Bob Filner has been an extremely effective representative for the District, in particular his willingness to be in the community and meet with the constituents. It is rare when a call to his office goes unanswered. Filner has fought hard for the District and for the Hispanic community. As the Senior Representative, this puts him in position for a Chairmanship position such as his recent appointment as the Ranking Member of the Veterans Affairs Committee; he also serves as the Senior Democratic Member of the Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. His senior status makes him a more productive Congressman for the District.
Congressman Filner has received every major Democratice endorsement, including every major Hispanic organization such as the Chicano Democratic Association and the South Bay Forum. They recognize that Bob Filner has been and is the best representative for the District.
As a Democrat, in a Republican controlled House of Representatives, Congressman Filner has not been afraid to stake out an independent position, such as speaking out against the war in Iraq, calling for a humane view of the Border issues, and seeking to provide a sensible health care plan, the “Healthcare Equality and Accountability Act”, which will provide grants to improve the health in border communities and to combat HIV/AIDS, infant mortality, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, asthma, sickle cell anemia disease and other public health problems.
Bob Filner has struck out on independent issues such as the Jobs Train along the border; he has fought to create an International Airport in Imperial Valley along with a high speed train. He has worked hard to clean up the sewage spills from Mexico polluting our oceans. There have been questions and allegations regarding Bajagua Project as a sole-source contract to build a sewage treatment plant in Mexico, but Filner has stuck to his guns on the issue, answering all questions and moving forward on cleaning up one of the worst polluted beaches in the country.
Juan Vargas on the other hand has failed to inspire or provide leadership throughout his political career. Juan Vargas has had a long career representing the Hispanic community of San Diego and unfortunately this political career is not one covered in glory. As a Hispanic newspaper it is our intent to promote and support Hispanic candidates. But we don’t do this blindly; the first question we ask is who will best represent the district and who will best represent the interest of the Hispanic community? In either case Juan Vargas is not the answer.
As a City Councilman for the City of San Diego, Vargas voted to eliminate Affirmative Action, minority contracts with the city dropped to less than 1%. Vargas never once stood up for the minority communities on this issue and fight for minority contractors. Nor did he fight to rectify the problem. Failure of his leadership in Barrio Logan where he was instrumental in getting the City to sell the vacant land in Barrio Logan, supposedly for the Mercado project, to LandGrant Development and his friend Sam Marisco for $100! This property has remained vacant since 1994. Vargas has not taken a single step to assure that the residents of Barrio Logan get the much needed Mercado project completed.
For years methyl-bromide was a huge issue to the residents, parents, and school children of Barrio Logan, we questioned the lack leadership by then City Councilman Juan Vargas on this issue. The 8th District is one of the worst environmental areas in the city, especial in Barrio Logan. We once again ask: Where was Vargas when the Barrios and Neighborhoods most needed him?
And probably the single biggest complaint from the Hispanic community in regards to Vargas is that he is totally inaccessible! He never returns phone calls and is never visible in the community, unless is election time.
And then finally, there is the Inzunza family/Juan Vargas connection. Ralph Inzunza, Jr was mentored by Juan Vargas, serving as his chief of staff and handpicked by Vargas to replace him in the City Council after his election to the Assembly. As we all know, former Councilman Inzunza has been convicted of corruption. There is also the association of Nick Inzunza, Mayor of National City, and Juan Vargas, both major donors to each others campaigns! The unholy allegiance between the Inzunza Brothers and Vargas has been well chronicled. They have brought shame to our communities.
The bottom line is: would Juan Vargas be a better representative of the constituents of the 51st Congressional District and the answer is a resounding NO!