The primaries are just around the corner on June 5, and when we go to vote we have some decisions to make about who we are, what we represent, and what we want for ourselves, our future, and our environment. Although we are lucky to have a field of Democrats that is both deep and broad, I will be voting for Bryan Caforio and I will tell you why. Two words, cheap shoes.
Back in March 1, 2017 I went to a hearing at Stevenson Ranch about the proposed Chiquita Canyon Landfill expansion. I was new to the fray but certainly felt that using a low-income, marginalized community as the dumping ground for all of Los Angeles County for another thirty years was the very definition of environmental injustice. Mr. Knight did not show up but instead sent one of his minions to endorse big profiteering business interests over the health of his constituents. There was buzz in the crowd that Bryan Caforio was there too. I had never heard of him and didn’t know who he was, or even what side he would come down on in this contentious issue, but when he was pointed out to me I took a good look at him. Good looking guy, white, OK suit, but, wearing cheap shoes. As a person who works in film with costumes I am keenly aware that every day whether we are conscious of it or not, we put on a costume. We choose, curate, what we wear and how we present ourselves to the world, and every choice says something. Bryan’s cheap shoes spoke volumes to me.
They said that here is a real person, genuine, and truly interested in the people not the trappings of money and prestige. It was clear that he had not been purchased by big money lobbyists, and unlike Knight, had not taken Koch money, and cares more about causes than labels. It was clear to me that he was not superficial.
In this time of alternative facts, and double speak it can be hard to determine the integrity of a candidate. It helps me to “look behind the curtain” as in The Wizard of Oz. People can, and will, say anything to get elected, but my method of reading the unspoken elements, like shoes and clothing choices, helps me separate the wheat from the chaff.
I listened to his testimony, against the landfill expansion as it turns out, and it was very good, but I “heard” the shoes too. My impression of his integrity was also strengthened by the fact that he was even there. It was not trivial to me that he made the effort to be there in person and fight for a small community that no one really knows exists or cares about. He was helping to be the voice of just a handful of constituents but he still made the effort to be there. From that day forward I decided that I was voting for Bryan.
Fast forward to the awful and terrifying period of the Thomas and the Rye Canyon fires. I don’t know about you, but I was petrified of losing my home, my kitties, everything. At one point my home was surrounded on three sides by the fires. Not long before Knight would vote to eliminate tax deductions for wildfire victims, Bryan posted a live fire map which kept me and my family sane in a time of total madness! We could not get clear answers from any governmental agency but because of Bryan I had access to a map where I could watch the fire line move across the map towards my home and have some peace of mind as to how far I was from danger.
At one point there was a glitch in my internet feed and I lost the map but when I contacted his office they had me back on very quickly. What a God send! If I hadn’t already been voting for Bryan I would definitely have decided to because of his genuine concern for the people of his district. He is a real and genuine guy in real shoes, working class shoes, who makes the time to be there, even for small communities who don’t have enough voters to make a difference. That’s integrity.
In this time of utter insanity, and, truthfully for me personally, a complete collapse of faith in the political system, he has been a genuine voice who seems so totally accessible to just an average person like me, just one voter, with one vote, and mine is going to Bryan Caforio on June 5, 2018 and November.
Laurel Taylor is a Val Verde resident.