Local politicians meet for local town hall meeting
Politics and paradise—a meet-and-greet/town hall discussion held in the Eden-esk gardens on the grounds of The Water Conservation Garden. The event was hosted by the San Diego East County Chamber of Commerce and featured local businesses, craft breweries, wineries, restaurants, as well as some of the area’s elected officials.
Among the attendees were US Rep Duncan D. Hunter, State Senator Joel Anderson, Assemblyman Brian Jones, County Supervisor Dianne Jacob, SD County Treasurer Dan McAllister and Lemon Grove Mayor and Professor of Business at Cuyamaca College Mary Sessom. For the first two hours, attendees shared adult beverages, food, and cordial conversation.
The night began in the foothills of The Water Conservation Garden, where an inviting open area was set up where guests mingled among their elected representatives and “built relationships” according to the Chamber’s General Manager, Eric Lund.
He was pleased with the turnout, which was described as double of last year’s. Adrian Brown, Tribal Councilman of Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, attended for a number of reasons, but mainly because “water is an important issue” for the Native American community and Politics in Paradise allowed for communication on issues such as that.
The evening then moved up the hill into the outdoor amphitheater and shifted towards a more serious atmosphere as elected officials answered questions from constituents in a town-hall format. Barry Jantz, current CEO of the Grossmont Healthcare District, mediated the event and gave each of the officials a chance to voice their opinions.
There were no arduous opening monologue, just direct Q/A. The inquiries read from the audience varied from lighter issues like the east county craft beer market, to heavier discussions over the border situation. Other topics of debate were welfare, business tax, economics, California’s budget, pension funds, and of course, the current water crisis.
However, the point was direct communication. In the age of the Internet and social media, the market is flooded with information. This has led to muddled messages and false transparency. Politics in Paradise allowed for direct contact with the people with power as opposed to e-mail responses and sound bites from local news broadcasts. Brian Jones attended the event for the “interaction” he wouldn’t normally achieve with his work schedule.