John Brooks has never held elected office, but he does have lots of experience.
He has worked as an actor, plays the saxaphone, writes childrens books and spent decades as a federal officer protecting smuggled or endangered animals.
Brooks grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area, has traveled the world, and he wants voters to send him to Washington.
On Tuesday, he will face-off against six other candidates for California's 51st Congressional District.
Below are 12 questions from IB Patch. All candidates for the office were invited to fill out the questionnaire last week. is the only other candidate to respond. , decided to publish a statement.
Patch: What do you think are the top priorities or issues to resolve for the 51st Congressional District and what do you want to work to accomplish if voters send you to Congress?
Brooks: Community based learning through our existing public school facilities. Immediate relief for small business owners.
Remove the tax incentives given to US companies to outsource jobs and place the incentives back in to the USA, thereby encouraging growth in the community by creating communities of the future, today.
This election isn’t about sending an individual to congress, it is about sending the important issues to Congress. Like Education. Like Jobs. Like making our families and our community a priority so they can prosper. It is about your voice being heard.
Patch: What is your vision for the 51st District? What is your vision for America?
Brooks: Education. Education is the focus of my campaign. California’s education system is in trouble and 51st Congressional District is in crisis. The achievement gap is crippling the futures of South San Diego and Imperial County. Their test scores are some of the worst in the state. Teachers are grossly underpaid in these schools with no support systems.
And we are seeing only an average of 11 percent of the kids making it through the first year of college in some parts of the district. These numbers drop even further if your child is African American or Special Needs and cuts in education are being approved by the State in budget discussions that will further devastate these groups.
Improving the economy and creating jobs starts with fixing Education and making it priority number one from day one. NCLB must be ended. Teachers must be given the proper pay, support and in-career training to further their craft of teaching our children. This will help us attract the best teachers and retain them. Schools should be transformed into community centers.
Year after year voters have approved bond measures that fix, maintain, and build new schools and yet most of the community has never stepped foot in these buildings. Schools need to be open all day and night offering classes to adults and senior citizens.
One of the major indicators in achievement gap groups is that the parents have not gone to college and large percentages have not finished High School. Involving parents and creating opportunities for career training and adult education in the schools at night gives the children a model of participation and importance that they begin to emulate. Bring in the idea that while the adults are in class that children can take elective courses such as art and music, or further support classes; it begins to close the gap. Also add in transitional education and senior classes for the elderly you have engaged the entire community.
These schools have phenomenal resources built in to be community service centers where we can also create programs like preventive health care clinics, nutritional education and exercise classes. These programs have the added benefit of also putting teachers back to work.
Another area of major importance will be to institute Financial and Civic literacy programs for children and adults. Poverty is cyclical for a reason. An engaged and educated community is an empowered community that votes more often and engages in local and national discussions.
Employment. Parts of the 51st Congressional district have faced cyclical unemployment rates over 30 percent for almost 15 years. Part of my education platform supports the innovation and training to empower the community to attract and create sustainable jobs with career paths and living wages.
The 51st district has the resources to become a center of innovation for Green Technology. We must ensure that the creation of Solar project uplifts the community by creating further training and employment of the people who live here.
Patch: What votes or actions by Congress in the past term have affirmed or gone against that vision?
Brooks: We must end NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND and give our schools the proper funding to succeed.
Patch: What experiences have most helped shape your points of view or political ideology?
Brooks: My public school teachers and counselors and 30 years employment with the federal government.
If we keep electing the same people we are going to keep on getting the same problems.
Patch: If elected, you will represent a district that spans the California-Mexico border. What needs to stay the same and what needs to change along the border and in U.S.-Mexico relations?
Brooks: Immigration Reform - We need to stop the exploitation of immigrant workers. This will go a long way in reducing the amount of unlawful immigration taking place. Negotiations needs to take place with the Mexican government to address why their residence are leaving to find work across their northern border.
We also need to crack down on children not living in the district attending public schools. Education should be made available for everyone, but they must live in the district they are attending. This rampant abuse of people sending their children across the border to attend school is costing our education system millions each year.
Patch: I’m a 52-year-old small business owner, and this economy still has my business on the ropes. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: I plan to support small businesses through tax incentives and community involvement. The back bone of a community is its small business. Another benefit of education is the increased earning potential and therefor spending of an educated workforce.
Patch: I’m in my twenties and camped for weeks at Occupy San Diego, protesting a tax system that gives the rich huge breaks. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: I marched with you and understand your frustration. I plan to bring equality to our current tax structure. Our community will be a priority not the Banks and Wall St.
Patch: I’m 68 and can’t believe how Obama how this country is moving toward a socialist state. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: Rhetoric by politicians more intent on padding their pockets than serving the people use terms like “socialist state”. Our country was built and saved by innovative social programs. FDR brought our country back back from the brink of despair with such programs. Being a healthy society benefits everyone and it is a shame that certain politicians would rather serve their corporate donors than the good of the people.
Patch: I’m an unemployed veteran in my late 20s who has just returned from Iraq. I’ve been in combat and seen wars in Iraq and Afghanistan for more than a decade. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: I will make sure we honor promises made to those who have and continue to serve us bravely. I come from a family of veterans, so I understand.
We ask our sons and daughters to put their lives on the line to protect us. We need to make sure they receive and expand benefits offered to them. Including physical and mental health programs, continuing education, and small business opportunities.
Patch: I’m a recent college graduate who is afraid about the prospects of finding a job. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: In building the communities of the future in the 51st District we will need your skill and your innovation. You hold the key to the immediate future. We need you to engage the community to help us move forward. Remember. An educated workforce earns more money and attracts innovation. Those businesses then invest in and hire workers from our community. Working people can now afford to buy new homes and cars which supports local businesses and employs more hardworking people from our community.
Patch: I’m a member of the AARP and am afraid social security won’t be available for my kids or grandchildren. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: This is exactly why we need to invest in education now. We are not producing enough High School or College graduates to support the system.
The more High School and College graduates we create now impacts their earning potential and tax base so future generations can provide for those who provided for them.
Education truly is the path to a healthy economy.
Patch: I’m a longtime voter and I’m starting to get apathetic. Very little seems to happen in Washington to solve my problems. All I see are the extreme wings of both parties making big promises, blaming each other and getting nothing done. Why should I vote for you?
Brooks: This is the exact reason we I decided to run. Politicians are so busy arguing nothing is being accomplished and the people stuck in the middle are being ignored. We need to create a “Radical Middle”. Where we take the best of outside views and put them to work for the community.