By Tommy Hough
I've held off on advocating for specific candidates on my personal account this year, but I sincerely hope you'll join me ahead of Election Day in supporting my friend Mark West, who is running for city council in Imperial Beach, the southwesternmost community in San Diego County.
Mark is a retired U.S. Navy officer with a lengthy, laudable career in the defense industry, and he's exactly the kind of environmentalist who builds bridges and seeks solutions while adhering to the best science and good sense. I know Mark through my involvement with the San Diego County Chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, and he's the real deal – a surfer who connects the dots from watersheds to the beach to the ocean, and an outdoorsman who knows and loves our region's parks and special places. Mark cares about the future of our region, and the community he calls home.
Whether working to help launch a Surfrider chapter in northern Baja, working with leaders on both sides of the border to find solutions to the pollution challenges posed by persistent sewage discharges along the Tijuana River, and his enthusiastic support of nearby Border Field State Park and the Tijuana National Wildlife Refuge, Mark is exactly the kind of guy we want to be involved in local politics, with the best kind of temperament and quality environmental sense.
While Mark is already an active, engaged local leader, getting Mark onto the Imperial Beach City Council will begin to build pathways for him to grow into a political leader delivering demonstrative results, whether they're solutions to issues relating to the Tijuana River, beaches, the homeless crisis, veterans' issues, sensible growth, or simply enhancing the quality of life for all the residents of I.B.
Mark is currently under attack by a ridiculously-named organization fronted by former Missouri State Senator John William Louden, who moved to California at some point after his service in the Missouri legislature. Mr. Louden likes to tell his friends he lives in Coronado, the well-off bastion of the super-rich north of Imperial Beach, but he's really an I.B. resident who only recently made his home there – yet his organization makes it appear as though Mark is the outsider in their attacks, as though Mark hasn't already spent years living and working in San Diego County and calling I.B. home.
To give you an idea of the sense of entitlement and maturity level of the organization that Mr. Louden is affiliated with – the same organization behind the shoddy attacks on Mark's character and campaign – look no further than the "mission statement" that Mr. Louden's organization has on their Facebook site (their listed URL appears to be expired, going straight to GoDaddy.com), which reads:
"We are people who want to do what we want when we want without ninnies trying to take our stuff and tell us how to live our lives."
You can't make this up. As of the afternoon of Nov. 3, that's verbatim.
Perhaps Mr. Louden feels oppressed in his privilege, or perhaps he feels he should be allowed to drive down the middle of the street and read other people's mail. Does he hate government? What else can you gather from a statement like "people who want to do what we want?" What liberty is being deprived people like Mr. Louden that they can only lash out at genuine local leaders like Mark with prurient nonsense instead of responsible differences? How can they even level the charges they have at Mark?
Sadly, when you read something as immature as the mission statement of the organization attacking Mark, it's reasonable to assume the politics of personal destruction aren't too far behind. While we're not immune to radical Tea Party and Breitbart-style electioneering in Southern California, the level of attacks that Mr. Louden has levelled against my friend Mark are despicable – and desperate.
What can you do? Donate to Mark's campaign. Then donate to Mark's campaign again.
Walk precincts for Mark. Make calls for Mark. Volunteer, and create such a groundswell for Mark in Imperial Beach in the final days of this campaign that all the John William Loudens in our lives will fully appreciate that their sick vindictiveness for political aims have no place in San Diego County.
As president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action, I'm proud our club endorsed Mark, and I'm doubly proud our decision was mirrored by the San Diego County Democratic Party, San Diego City Councilman Todd Gloria, Speaker Emeritus Toni Atkins, and other like-minded political and environmental organizations.
The other day, Mark hit a milestone in his campaign in Imperial Beach: he's now knocked on every single door in the city. Every single door. I've told Mark in the past his best asset is himself, which comes across in any interaction you may have with him. Imperial Beach – Mark is going to do you proud. You're lucky to have this guy as your neighbor.
Please vote for Mark West on Nov. 8 for Imperial Beach City Council. Please donate to his campaign so Mark can remain competitive through Election Day, and reject the petty, hate-fuled mania of John Louden and the ugly attacks of his childish organization.
"When they go down, we go up." Indeed we do. And Mark has clear visibility and an open ceiling above him. Let's get this done, I.B. On Nov. 8, vote for Mark West for Imperial Beach City Council.
Tell your friends and family – and vote.
Tommy Hough is a San Diego broadcast personality, wilderness and parks advocate, California Democratic Party delegate, and the co-founder and former president of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action. He was a candidate for San Diego City Council in the 2018 election cycle.