… is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.

For almost ten years, voters in the Visalia area have elected, and re-elected, Devin Nunes to be our congressman in the House of Representatives.  In at least one election, Nunes ran unopposed.  In those ten years, we’ve seen a dramatic jump in the number of dairies in Tulare County and the surrounding area.  Tulare County is now #1 in dairy production in the United States.  Tulare County is also consistently #2 or #3 in overall agricultural production in the United States, usually hot on the heels of Fresno County.  Despite this leadership in the dairy industry (Representative Nunes’ family business) and agriculture, Tulare County is also one of the poorest counties in California.  Nearly a quarter of the population live in poverty, and one in three residents receives state aid.

One has to ask, in the midst of such wealth, why is the poverty level so high, and what has Devin Nunes done in his tenure in Congress to alleviate that poverty?  The answer, based on continuing high poverty levels, would seem to be “not much”.  Republicans love to talk business, and clamor for government to be run “more like a business”.  Well, we’ve had ten years of Mr. Nunes’ being in our employ, and we don’t have much to show for it (unless you’re a dairyman or farmer).  It’s time we seriously considered firing Mr. Nunes for his lack of success in solving the problems that have been plaguing Tulare County for years.  After all, that’s what any business would do, right?

On Sunday, August 12, 2012, I attended the grand opening of the Otto For Congress office in Visalia.  Otto Lee is a Commander in the Navy, Bronze Star recipient, private business owner, and former Mayor and Council member in Sunnyvale.

Otto Lee brings a fresh perspective to the needs of the new 22nd District.

Sunday’s office opening was a chance for people to meet the candidate, and talk to him about his goals and plans for the future.

There are many different groups that fall under the banner of what might be called Democratic “special interests”, and my interests are, of course, in the area of LGBT issues.  I had an opportunity to sit down with Otto for a few minutes, and discuss those subjects.

Otto told me of his support for marriage equality, and how he publicly opposed Proposition 8 when it was on the ballot in California.  As a member of the Armed Forces, he recounted how quickly and easily the military was adjusting to the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (Don’t Pursue)”, and how it simply was not an issue.  We reflected on the simple truth that gays and lesbians have served in the armed forces since the time of the Revolution, and how, with repeal, hiding one’s orientation, as well as family, was no longer an added burden to military personnel.

Forwarding a question from a member of Visalia’s LGBT community, I asked Otto if he supported the idea of a LGBT Community Center in Visalia.  As I expected, he thought it was a great idea, and would of course be supportive of such a facility.   I came away from our discussion reassured that the LGBT community would have a receptive ear in Congress if Commander Lee were elected.  That would be a refreshing change from the current status.

Other groups will no doubt express their views on Mr. Lee’s campaign, and I’ll leave to them the discussions of other issues that will dominate the political scene over the next few months.  I’m happy with my talk with him, and look forward to seeing him representing us in Washington, D.C.

Now, the most important thing is for you to register and then to vote!  This is going to be one of the most important elections in recent memory, so it’s vitally important you make your voice heard.