Part 2 – Midterm Elections 2022: The Politics of Fear, or What a Long, Strange Violent Trip It’s Been

Editor’s note: This is Part 2 of journalist R.V. Scheide’s election roundup. Click here for Part 1.

Heading into the 2020 midterm elections, all four Shasta County supervisor candidates have proven adept at raising money, with each exceeding $100,000 in campaign donations.

Erin Resner and Kevin Crye are competing for the District 1 Shasta County Supervisor seat.

Baron Browning and Chris Kelstrom are competing for the District 5 Shasta County Supervisor seat.

Resner and Browning rely on donations from what might be called the traditional political establishment. Crye has received a dozen maximum $4900 donations from local and out-of-town sources. Kelstrom has raised tens of thousands of dollars via anonymous individual donations under $100.

District 5 Supervisor candidate Chris Kelstrom models State of Jefferson gear.

Connecticut son-of-a-billionaire Reverge Anselmo injected another $100,000 into the race in August, which longtime local Tea Party activist Lyndia Kent used to form the Water Users Committee, which so far has paid $15,000 for fliers promoting Kelstrom.

Counting the $110,000 donated to Jones and the $850,000 to the Shasta General Purpose Committee and the Liberty Committee, Anselmo has now spent more than $1 million influencing Shasta County politics.

The Water Users name is presumably reference to the woes of the Anderson Cottonwood Irrigation District, which was forced to sell its water allotment from the US Bureau of Reclamation this year due to the ongoing drought.

The decision has left residents high and dry and Kelstrom has promised ACID voters that they’ll get their water allotment from the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation next year even if he has to go to jail to make it happen.

“If you like Patrick Jones you’ll like me,” Kelstrom has said. He and Jones are schoolboy chums. Kelstrom has served as a pitchman for the State of Jefferson secessionist movement so there’s no question he can swing hard right.

Browning, a former Marine, is a common-sense conservative Republican who has no problem admitting Trump lost the 2020 election. Despite these differences, the contest between Browning and Kelstrom has evolved into a congenial affair, with both candidates professing their like for one another.

Shasta County Supervisor District 1 candidates Erin Resner, Kymberly Vollmers and Kevin Crye at a March forum. Vollmers dropped out of the race.

The same can’t be said about the race between Resner and Crye, two candidates whose dislike for one another is readily apparent whenever they’re in the same room.

Consider the debate between Resner and Crye on Carl Bott’s Free Fire Radio program last month. Bott began the program reminding the contestants that they had agreed to discuss their solutions for local problems and not resort to personal attacks.

Perhaps because he feels he’s trailing in the race, Crye went on the attack anyway. He turned every question into a referendum on Resnser’s performance on the Redding City Council in an attempt to cast her as a divider, not a uniter like him. Resner tried to keep her cool as Bott failed to reign in Crye’s aggression, but you could hear the frustration in her voice when the debate reached the show’s half-hour commercial break.

Redding City Councilwoman and Supervisor District 1 candidate Erin Resner.

According to Resner, when the show went off the air, Crye pulled his phone out and started filming her, saying “I want people to see who the real Erin Resner is.” That’s when she cut loose with several F-bombs.

“I will be honest with you because I have nothing to hide,” Resner said via email. “I used the F-word twice. I said, “The real Erin Resner is someone who will effing fight for this community. I shouldn’t have cursed.”

Resner then walked out of the studio and the station went on an elongated break. Crye supporters claimed on Facebook that the significantly smaller Resner physically threatened Ninja Coalition HQ gym owner Crye before walking out.

At the next Redding City Council meeting, Bott confirmed that Crye had attempted to film Resner during the break.  Bott doesn’t allow recording on the break and told Crye to stop. Bott complained that Crye’s supporters had called him fake news for not revealing details about the clash between Resner and Crye, which is somewhat ironic considering Bott routinely refers to A News Café as fake news.

“The only people who know are the four of us who were in that room because it was off the air,” Resner said. “I wasn’t waving my arms and throwing a fit. I was just a mama lion who turned her head and roared at a pack of hyenas who have been loud and rude.”

Ninja Coalition HQ gym owner and Supervisor District 1 Candidate Kevin Crye.

For a candidate who claims he’s going to bring transparency to the Shasta County Board of Supervisors, Crye remains an enigma.

After speaking out against COVID mandates at a board of supervisors meeting last October and receiving an enthusiastic response from so-called medical freedom advocates, Crye, who runs the Ninja Coalition HQ gym in Shasta Mall as well as two talent agencies, spontaneously threw his hat in the ring for departing District 1 Supervisor Joe Chimenti’s seat.

Crye and his wife, a P.E. teacher at Shasta High School, own a home in District 4, so Crye rented an apartment in west Redding in District 1 to qualify for the race last November. Now, the District 4 house appears to be vacated and up for sale. Crye requested that his District 1 address in west Redding not be publicly revealed because he and his wife have three children including a young son.

The Ninja Coalition and Valor Talent athletes and celebrities Crye promotes for a living just featured prominently in the Palomar Health Foundation “Health Rocks!” Wellness Festival held in Escondido, just north of San Diego on the second weekend in October.

It must have been a big payday for Crye, but voters have no idea how much Crye earns from his three business because he has failed to disclose any income on his statement of economic interests Form 700, as A News Café first reported in July. Back then, Crye claimed Ninja Coalition and Ninja Coalition HQ each had a market value of more than $1 million. He estimated that his annual income from each was in the $10,001 to $100,000 range.

But when recently asked about the asset value of his three companies, Crye had a different answer.

“Valor doesn’t really have any physical assets,” he said via email. “Both Ninja brands have physical equipment and IP (intellectual property) that I’ve created. The physical structures are made up of stage and event truss. The value is in the experience we deliver. Everything I have purchased could be bought for less than $500,000.”

How Crye financed $500,000 worth of gym equipment just as the COVID-19 pandemic struck is unclear. “COVID crushed all three of the things/businesses that helped feed my family,” Crye said. “Gym, events and talent management.”

Apparently, Crye didn’t receive any financial aid from the Paycheck Protection Program.

As A News Café reported in May, Crye filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy in Klamath Falls, Ore., in 2012, discharging $120,000 in unsecured debt, after his sporting companies West Coast Outfitters, Upper Hand Athletics, and Basin Basketball Academy went south.

What about that amendment to his Form 700 Crye told A News Café he was going to file months ago?

“As I have read and understand from my conversations with the FPPC, the timing of them doesn’t require me to act on anything until after this next tax season,” Crye said.

That means voters have no idea what potential conflicts of interest Crye might have when business comes before the board. For example, Crye markets his Ninja services to charter schools. Should he recuse himself when charter school business is on the agenda?

Some of this lack of transparency can be chalked up to Crye’s inexperience as a candidate. For example on his campaign website he continues to claim he’s the co-owner of Magic Ninja Dust, even though a representative from that company says Crye has no financial interest in the firm, as A News Café has previously reported.

Long story short, A News Café endorses Erin Resner for Shasta County District 1 Supervisor and Baron Browning for Shasta County District 5 Supervisor. Nothing has changed since we endorsed Resner and Browning before the June primary. Both have years of experience working in local government with no major blemishes on their records.

Plainly put, Kevin Crye and Chris Kelstrom have no such experience. Both preach the conservative do-nothing small government doctrine, but neither has actually served in any sort of governmental capacity. With the COVID-19 pandemic threatening to surge again this winter and a growing number of economists predicting a global recession next year, is now the time to experiment with two relative strangers who will be starting from scratch and who’ve pledged to cut the county budget to the bone?

Do you really want to give Patrick Henry Jones a 4-1 majority on the Shasta County Board of Supervisors?

Vote responsibly.

Is the Redding City Council About to be Christianized?

Thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court’s June decision to strike down federal abortion rights, Americans who believe in the separation of church and state are taking the Christian nationalist movement more seriously. Five out of the six justices forming the court’s new hyper conservative 6-3 majority are conservative Catholics; the sixth is a conservative Episcopalian who was raised Catholic.

Given that the Dobbs decision threw out 50 years of precedent in privacy rights, it’s hard not to conclude the justices were not in some way swayed by their conservative Christian religious preferences. Those preferences are now the law of the land when it comes to reproductive rights. It’s not just a coincidence.

Christian nationalists believe the United States was founded as a Christian nation. They mistake the Founders for the Puritans and the God-given rights mentioned in the Declaration of Independence with the secular rights enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights that came afterward. When MAGA Republican reprobate Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert call themselves Christian nationalists, they imagine they reign over Gilead or perhaps Salem Village.

While the majority of the Supreme Court justices are Catholic, the majority of Christian nationalists are charismatic evangelicals like the churchgoers you’ll find at Bethel Church and The Stirring and other local churches. So what does it mean that six out of the ten candidates running for three open Redding City Council seats call Bethel or the Stirring home?

What happens when conservative evangelicals have a majority on the Redding City Council?

More food trucks? More rainbow umbrella alleyways? More psychedelic holiday light displays?

It’s a tough call. A News Café recently took a comprehensive look at the 10 candidates running for Redding City Council that provides most of the information required to make a legitimate choice for each candidate. But that’s not to say choosing three out of the 10 candidates is easy.

Redding City Council candidate Tenessa Audette

For example, candidate and Bethel Church member Tenessa Audette is no political novice. She worked on Sean Feucht’s CD-3 campaign and she presently works for Sen. Brian Dahle’s Redding office. That’s right, Jesus Christ Superspreader and the man from Bieber, who said “God is on the move … Trump got elected,” back at that faith and values townhall in 2019.

But before you confine Audette to a white bonnet and a long maroon dress listen to her school Bethel’s No. 2 man Kris Vallotton on issues of church and state on his recent podcast.

Audette understands it’s problematic to call the United States a Christian nation, because “you do not have to be a Christian to be an American.” She and Vallotton agreed there’s a distinct difference between the roles of a pastor and a politician. “You shouldn’t be out there evangelizing,” said Audette describing her role as a candidate. To be an American, “It doesn’t matter what religion you are, or no religion at all.”

It’s almost amusing to hear Audette say America shouldn’t be Christianized—and hear Vallotton groan “Yes!” in agreement.

For voters suspicious of the Seven Mountain Mandate, church doctrine in which Bethel members are encouraged by leadership to assume control of the metaphorical mountains of education, religion, family, business, government/military, arts/entertainment and media, Audette’s thoughts on church and state probably won’t be enough to persuade them to vote for her.

Redding City Councilman Michael Dacquisto

But finding another candidate who’s not openly religious isn’t easy. Current Redding City Councilman Michael Dacquisto, who has no connections to Bethel or The Stirring, is one secular favorite. But Dacquisto has come under scrutiny for absenteeism and not spending enough time in Redding, supposedly preferring his spacious home in Mount Shasta to the small office/apartment he maintains in Redding.

To make matters worse, a video Dacquisto made in 2019 in which he mocks homeless people recently surfaced on social media. It’s not pretty.

Still, making endorsements in this race is fraught with difficulty. The best advice A News Café can give is read our comprehensive look at the 10 candidates running for Redding City Council and make your own decisions.

Shasta County Board of Education candidate Rich Gallardo failed attempt to arrest the Board of Supervisors in October 2020.

Local Extremists Go After School Board Seats

During the past two years of escalating political tensions across the country, much of the stress has manifested itself in an unlikely place: public school board meetings. The MAGA Republicans falsely believe our public schools have been consumed by critical race theory, gender confusion and public health mandates. Rightwing extremists have aggressively confronted school board members, and here in Shasta County, no one has been more aggressive than Rich Gallardo and Authur Gorman.

Gallardo and Gorman are running for two spots on the Shasta County Board of Education, Area 2. It’s vital that no one votes for them. Gallardo and Gorman have been present at many of the disruptive events in Shasta County’s recent history, including multiple contentious school board meetings, the student/teacher walkout last October and the attempt to interfere with voting at the Registrar of Voters during the June primary.

Authur Gorman obstructing Shasta County Registrar of Voters Cathy Darling Allen on primary election night.

A News Café highly recommends that voters choose Shasta County Board of Education Area 2 incumbents Steve MacFarland and Rhonda Hall. Gallardo and Gorman are destroyers. They’re not here to protect the public school system. They aim to burn it down and have said as much.

What intentions Beth Watt, Taryn Ham and Whitney Hathaway have for the Millville Elementary School District Board is uncertain—after initially agreeing to an interview with A News Café the threesome hoping to take over the district declined to respond. Perhaps that’s because they realize the issues they’ve been vociferously complaining about at school board meetings, especially COVID-19 mandates, are no longer salient.

Or maybe they realize complaining too much about nonexistent critical race theory is a little, you know, racist.

At any rate, A News Café recommends that voters choose Millville Elementary School District Board incumbents Kristi Poole and Luke Wilson. To be fair, they didn’t respond to A News Café’s request for comment either.

That should give you some idea about the tension that’s out there.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. If you haven’t voted yet, getter done. You’ll have no right to complain about the results if you don’t.

R.V. Scheide

R.V. Scheide is an award-winning journalist who has covered news, politics, music, arts and culture in Northern California for more than 30 years. His work has appeared in the Tenderloin Times, Sacramento News & Review, Reno News & Review, Chico News & Review, North Bay Bohemian, San Jose Metro, SF Bay Guardian, SF Weekly, Alternet, Boston Phoenix, Creative Loafing and Counterpunch, among many other publications. His honors include winning the California Newspaper Publishers Association’s Freedom of Information Act and best columnist awards as well as best commentary from the Society of Professional Journalists, California chapter. Mr. Scheide welcomes your comments and story tips. Contact him at RVScheide@anewscafe.com..

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