On Wednesday, I had the chance to meet with Congressional Candidate Steve Anthony Colangelo at a local restaurant in Antioch to ask him about his Congressional run against Congressman Jerry McNerney for the 9th Congressional District.
Colangelo, a lifelong resident of the central Valley, began his career in radio and while developing his career on air, he served as an Auxiliary Police Officer for the Sacramento Police Department. Since that time he has owned Metro Expositions and American Event Rentals.
Now he says he is ready for Congress for a District that covers Antioch, Brentwood, Discovery Bay, Byron out to Stockton.
“I don’t think running for Congress is such a lofty thing. I think helping our communities is the real goal here. I always tell people I am not running this campaign from 30,000 ft. It’s a door to door campaign with real life issues,” says Colangelo.
He encourages voters not to vote based on party preference, vote on someone who you think will get the job done.
“Vote for the person who you think is going to protect our communities and make them healthy again and the person that is more able is a person who has been a small business owner for 28-years providing jobs to people, has law experience on his resume, is a person with that experience have the ability to move an agenda forward to better our community or does someone running for his fifth-term in congress who has done nothing for us and look at where we are at,” said Colangelo. “Look at the existing conditions, he (McNerney) has had control he has had the ability to make change and he has not. He has chosen not to so that is what the decision is and that is why I decided to run.”
Colangelo is frustrated with the politics going on in Washington and states that those elected lose focus on why they were elected in the first place. He states McNerney has fallen into that trap.
“There is no question in my mind that he has bought into that bubble in the beltway. It’s basically a fraternal organization that is attractive and alluring to the point where you forget why you were elected,” says Colangelo.
He explained that when he went through Jerry McNerney’s press releases when he was running against Richard Pompo, he suggests you could just take out Pombo’s name and replace it with McNerney. He then says you can replace McNerney’s name with his and you pretty much have his campaign.
“He ran on the fact that Pombo was disengaged, he did not reflected the values and views of the district. Well, what do you think Jerry McNerny is? Jerry McNerney is a great parade waver; he is a person who goes to a lot of events, waves in parades, gets off the fire truck and leaves. He doesn’t engage in the real issues,” says Colangelo.
When Colangelo refers to real issues, its issues that affect everyday people which are not Republican or Democratic; instead, he says it’s about jobs, crime and creating opportunities for kids.
“If you want to go fight about abortion, gun control, all those issues, then have at it. I will tell you my position, but that is not what my campaign is about. The reason why I engaged in this campaign and the reason I am passionate about it is because we have no representation when it comes to creating jobs in this congressional district, we have no representation in congress when it comes to fighting crime in this district and we have no representation from this congressman when it comes to creating opportunities for kids in high school, especially those kids who may not be going onto college,” explained Colangelo.
He further suggests we should be better helping our high school students.
“You see, I am a realist. I am a person that is just a common everyday person and my thing that I believe in is our society actually washes its hands of high school students if you don’t go to college and unfortunately not a lot of kids go onto college,” says Colangelo. “As a society, it’s our job to give these kids in high school vocational opportunities to at least prepare them for the job market… it gives them a head start.”
Although the Government shutdown did end earlier this week, Colangelo admits he was disgusted by it.
“I think it’s disgusting. I would work earlier work with leadership in advance and I wouldn’t just send a letter like Jerry would do. I would work aggressively with leadership to try to put together legislation with an agenda for the peoples best interest. This is not something that we have to wait until midnight on October 16 to get a bill passed, we can do this earlier and I think that congress has done a disservice to people who have elected them to office. Please don’t misunderstand me, I blame leadership in both parties because I am looking at it from a small business perspective,” says Colangelo.
He explained that he he fails in his business, he has no one else to blame but himself so the people need to hold Washington accountable and blame them.
“We need to blame them. Its both parties. I go back to the days of a very Liberal Massachusetts Democrat and a very conservative republican and the fact that they can engage and get things done is a perfect example of what we should be doing today, ” says Colangelo. “If we can’t do it today, maybe we need new leadership on both sides of the isle. I am not saying get rid of John Boehner or Nancy Pelosi, that is the propels decision.”
You will work with people of both sides of the isle on issues of the District and the state. What connections do you have in Contra Costa County to make a difference?
Well I am meeting with people on a regular basis. I reached out to the Mayor of Oakley, Chief of Police in Oakley, Mayor of Brentwood, I’ve met with Supervisor Mary Piepho. These types of meetings are ongoing when I get elected. It’s more important to meet with elected officials to see how I can help them as a congressman than get on the back of a fire truck and wave.
You just mentioned 3-Republicans, what Democrats have you met with?
I’ve met with the mayor of Antioch. I met with him at the 4th of July event and met with him for 45-minutes. You see my issues are not exclusive to any party. I want to help a democratic mayor provide
Realistically, based on the District, what business and jobs can you bring to the area?
That’s a twofold question, first thing in bringing companies to this district. When I talk to companies about coming to this district I get two basic objects. First, the high crime rate in Antioch/Brentwood area or in Stockton where most distribution facilities are, its high crime and the fact we don’t have an employable workforce. That is on us, we need to correct that. The way we do that is we create a program that private corporations can participate in.
The second part of what type of jobs that can be brought here are distribution facilities and relocation of corporate locations. You see, geographically we are a gold mind. Whether it Antioch, Brentwood, Oakley, Discovery Bay, central valley, it’s a gold mind because we are so close to the Bay Area, we are so close to the epicenter in San Francisco. This is a great location. This is where a lot of people live, so relocating here make sense.
In a few months, I’ll be releasing a plan that brings private business in where they can mentor and bring in HS students to train them in vocational skills from automobile to hotel, restaurant to distribution center. Right now in Stockton, I have a 300,000 sq. ft. warehouse that is bringing in kids from high school to teach them how to read bar code readers, inventory control, loading trucks.
What it takes is getting private corporations involved. But the next step is to get the unified school district to buy into the program, especially when it doesn’t cost them a penny. What they need to do is give them credit, certification, recognition for completing the program. My program requires minimum 2.0 average, it’s also 100%attendance because you have to really want it. If we offer it, we will really help kids get basic skills.
Crime is a big issue in Antioch and Stockton, how will you help improve the situation?
Why do I rail on Jerry McNerney for being disengaged and not a part of our district in helping us in our personal lives, it’s this, our Chief of Police in Stockton went to Washington DC and met with US Marshalls and met with ATF and brought in a program to Stockton in the first three months of the year and was razor fixed on gangs and guns. That was three month commitment and followed it up with a 2-month commitment from the US Marshalls Services. What happened, news stations ran stories all over the place.. Stockton murder rate drops 63% and they can’t figure out why? It was a federal presence in Stockton because it’s a war.
Believably, our congressman didn’t know anything about it and to this day still doesn’t know about it. I am telling you and I am telling everyone this congressman is running for his 5th term, if he is so disengaged in these issues that affect us in our homes, then I think it’s time for a change.
I plan on working with every chief of police, every county sheriff regardless of their political beliefs because it’s not about politics, it’s about your and my safety in our homes, our business, and traverse our highways. This is where real people feel the effects of a high crime rate.
With crime being an issue, where do you stand on Antioch’s Measure C
Antioch isn’t the only community in this congressional district that is planning on raising taxes. I am not a proponent of raising taxes, but I am not in a position to take a position on local issues because I am a federal candidate.
I will tell you this that one of the problems that we are experiencing in a congressional district that is disengaged from the process and how do I know that, when I first started in this race and formed an exploratory committee and went out and I need to find out from the people who perform these jobs. What can be done and what are their needs are.
So I meant with San Joaquin County Sheriff, I met with the Chief of Police in Stockton, you want to talk about ground zero, Stockton is 7th most dangerous place to live according to Forbes. So I met with these folks and I asked them if they have ever met with Jerry McNerney. They said oh yea, I saw him at a parade in Manteca. He was at some ribbon cutting in Stockton. My next question was have you ever met with Jerry McNenry because we are having a war in this community. No, we have never met with him. So you have never met with our congressman to discuss crime. They said no.
Going back to you question about Antioch’s ½ cent sales tax. There is a reason why it’s on the ballot. There is a problem. Where is our congressman? Has he brought any federal funds to the district? No. As a matter of fact, I met with the Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Has he ever met with Jerry McNerney, no? The sheriff in Galt ever meet with Jerry McNernry? No. The Chief of Police in Oakley ever met with Jerry McNerney? No? Where is Jerry McNerney when it comes to law enforcement? He is missing in action.
Fire Protection Services are becoming an issue in Contra Costa County, how can you help, especially in East Contra Costa where we may be going down to three stations without a revenue enhancement once our FEMA Grant expires. How would you help to ensure we have a 5-station model in place to ensure we can put out a structure fire?
This issue was brought to my attention by the Mayor of Oakley. It’s significant because how much property would have to be destroyed, people’s lives be lost before we see any activity with this. We can’t be shutting down stations.
I am reaching out to fire officials to better educate me on this particular issue.
Once again I’ve not seen anything from this congressman effectuate any funding from FEMA and engage in this issue to help the residents of this district. They are stretched so thin, response times are high. The firefighters and fire administration here in Contra Costa County are responsible people and doing the best they can with what they have. But to take away more from them is not the answer. I would fight for continued funding from FEMA and look at other sources.
Editor’s note: Colangelo believes that ECCFPD needs to at least maintain a 5-station model and that going below that is unacceptable.
How would you help maintain and improve road conditions in East Contra Costa County?
This is one of the reason I am against high-speed rail project is because I feel we have some serious needs locally with existing highway infrastructure. For years I’ve been going to Washington on behalf of my association to talk about transportation and highway improvements.
The problem I have had as a small business owner is because the highways are so bad and groves in highway almost become death traps. In my trucks, I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars on new tires and fixing my trucks because of road improvements. I am anxious to see substantial improvements in roads and barriers to prevent head on collisions.
Our federal officials need to hold CALTRANS accountable for these types of project. There is no congressional oversight. When we give the money to CALTRANS there is no oversight of how the money is spent and how effective it was. I just came to this appointment through the Delta on Highway 4. Wow, that’s unbelievable. I felt like a Ping-Pong ball every time I drive that road. It’s because of all the ground movement on the levees. The amount of attention it needs it’s not getting it as it’s like a patchwork of a quilt instead of fixing the issue.
Where do you stand on the California Delta and the Twin Tunnels Project?
One again, Jerry McNerney although he opposes the twin tunnels, you wouldn’t know it. Where has he been? When I am elected, if the issue is still on the table I am going to be screaming about it. This twin tunnel project is a death nail to our Delta. I was born and raised in this area you don’t have to be a scientist to understand that if you restrict fresh water flow you are going to have salt water intrusion. There are other ways and solutions to the problem.
You bet I am going to be screaming about it for many reasons. Not only the plant and marine life, but it’s also about water rights. Our farming communities have first rights to that water and I want to protect those first rights. This tunnel project has many flaws and the California voters should be very aware of what they are doing.
Where do you stand on the Affordable Healthcare Act?
Where I am coming from is my background is I own a very small family business. Last year we were notified our health insurance was to increase by 20%. This year, we received notice that our health insurance is going up another 30%. That is not acceptable. I cannot afford health insurance and I think there are a lot of people in this congressional district that fall under the same umbrella as I do. There is no political party that says we can afford it or we cannot afford it.
The Affordable Healthcare Act is not the solution. All we are doing is opening up can of worms. And that is pretty indicative since its rollout. This morning, I was listening to the news that there are democrats calling for the resignation for Sebelious at HHS and for heads to roll because of the problems.
Look I don’t care what you have, whether it’s a new iPhone, APPLE had problems with rollouts, everybody has problems have rollouts it’s the first tried and true unveiling of a program and I’ll give them that. However, I think there is an element of unfairness and that is when business, major corporations get a free pass, strategically enough after the mid-term elections and that is wrong. If they are given a free pass then the entire system should be relaxed until they can work out these bugs and solutions can be made to these funding problems.
I am against the health insurance tax which no one talks about, the health instruments tax which not a lot of people talk about. Those two taxes are significant that will affect the average person every day. For people to get another tax on getting another tax on an instrument that they needs is unfair.
A lot of people are going to realize oh I didn’t need to pay for that. I am all supportive of people getting healthcare but I didn’t know it was going to be done on my back. On paper, the affordable care act grants people universal healthcare and the concept in the media is very sexy and attractive, it’s the issue of the day. But the fact is with the average everyday person we are looking at a situation where it’s going to be on the backs of the average everyday person to pay for those things.
I think the average young person when they voted for this president. They voted for a euphoric idea that we are going to have all these great programs and help society. He did get re-elected based on those problem. But they didn’t understand the underlining legs he was running on which all comes down to one single question which is who is going to pay for it? The simple answer is you and I are. That’s the simple answer.
I put myself in you and I. I am not a wealthy person. I struggle. I struggle to make payroll every two-weeks. I am not some person who is detached from the issues. Those issues affect me and my employees.
If the Affordable Healthcare Act is not the solution, what do you do with preexisting conditions?
There is no argument on my end that we have problems in our healthcare solution. Does it mean this solution is the best solution? I don’t think so. I think through a lack of leadership in the House of Representatives we could have headed this off before we got to the Affordable Healthcare Act.
But once again, we waited until the 11th hour when the Democrats had control of the House, Senate and white House and rammed through act. People forget that this was passed at midnight with no one reading it. The problem is now that we are finding out what is in it, we are not liking it very much. The same people who voted for this president are not liking it too much because they are having to pay for it.
As far as pre-existing issues are concerned, there could have been solutions in our healthcare system but we chose as a congress to change it to create a new bureaucracy full of federal spending. I don’t know if we can pay for it to be honest.
You have to reform the system if it’s not working for you correctly, not replace it. What we have done with Affordable Care Act we have actually replaced our healthcare system with a totally different healthcare system and it’s not going to be the same. We are going to lose doctors and rely on nurse practitioners to help administer this program. The level of healthcare and quality is going to go down. I don’t see it as being sustainable. Pre-existing solutions is a very important thing but we could have found solutions without having to change it.
What is your million dollar issue?
My million dollar issue is crime. I think that crime needs to be addressed and attacked. I use the analogy of turning a flashlight on in a pitch black room and cockroaches spread and that is what we have been doing in this congressional district with different programs. As soon as those programs end, guess what happens, they come back and infest again.
What we need to do is not in each individual city solution, but as a district wide solution by attack this issue. Bring federal resources in. Take a comprehensive look at crime in 3-countries, 16-cities and attack this. If we do this in a unified way all local jurisdictions benefit.
If we allow Antioch, Stockton, Galt do their thing; then all we are doing is chasing the bad guys from one community to the next without fixing the problem. We need an expanded and sustained presence of federal law enforcement to help our community get legs, get air to fight these problems. I want to fight crime and be aggressive with it both locally and federally. Fighting crime also creates jobs.
By Michael Burkholder