To Mark Cripe, law enforcement is political; so is being a congressman. Law enforcement requires listening followed by action; so does being a congressman.
Cripe checks both boxes, as a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who has worked with non-violent, at-risk youth. He will retire next March after 29 years. Now, he wants to take a next step and represent the 25th district in Congress. He’s one of several Republicans vying to unseat Rep. Katie Hill next year.
“I consider myself a no nonsense guy. If we’ve got a problem, let’s address the problem and move forward,” he said. “I’m pretty much a what-you-see-is-what you-get guy. I’m not your typical politician. I’m a straight shooter, and I’m running to try and be a common sense voice for my entire community.”
Some might argue the sheriff’s department is in need of some common sense right now. Sheriff Alex Villanueva has been widely criticized for some decisions, including rehiring a deputy who had tried to break into the apartment of another deputy with whom he had been in a romantic relationship. The woman had accused the fired deputy of placing his hands on her neck and harassing her with text messages. The county Democratic Party has said it regrets endorsing Villanueva.
“The sheriff is L.A. County’s highest elected county official,” Cripe said. “The Board of Supervisors is elected by district, but the sheriff is elected by all districts. What deputies do affects how people vote for sheriff.”
Cripe, 54 and a Quartz Hill resident, said he knows that as a deputy, he represents the elected sheriff (he’s served under five of them), and that requires him to “answer a call.” He does this best as a sergeant supervising seven Vital Intervention and Directional Alternatives (VIDA) teams. His experiences led him to write a book, “Love Loudly: Lessons in Family Crisis, Communication, and Hope.”
According to the sheriff’s department website, VIDA is a 16-week program for non-violent, at-risk youth ages 11-17½ that brings together community-based organizations, volunteers, schools and families to teach youth the value of effective decision making and taking responsibility for their futures.
Cripe has done this work for almost 20 years. What he has learned is when kids sometime make bad choices, there is sometimes a valid reason. Like the boy who had been in 47 foster homes by the age of 13.
“You start having compassion,” he said. “You start listening to the stories, and you start to understand how to fix that, how to stop breaking kids.”
Now, he wants to transition into not breaking government. As he sees it, many people are anxious about the direction the country’s taking and the places people such as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren want to take them.
“Some people don’t like where we’re at and would like to move us to a socialist type of scenario,” Cripe said. “Other people don’t want to have anything to do with a socialist country. I’m one of those people.”
Actually, Cripe said, he considers fire and police departments, as necessary, calling these “little government socialism.” His objections lie with what he calls “big government socialism,” which he says “is hurting things that this country (is) built on, the Constitution. (I’m) trying to step up and be willing to be a voice against that.”
He thinks that Hill (D-Agua Dulce) is “flirting” with the socialist wing of the Democratic Party, and he wonders if she is the fifth member of “The Squad,” made up of Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan. All are women of color; Hill is white.
“Her social networking puts her with The Squad,” Cripe said. “She is not coming out and saying, ‘Knock this stuff off, that’s ridiculous.’ Maybe she’s trying to support other freshman congresswomen, but it is cause for concern.”
Other platform points include:
– He realizes that taxes are necessary for such things as infrastructure, but he wants more accountability to decrease fraud and ensure the people, organizations, institutions and governmental branches that would benefit from taxes actually receive them.
Generally, he favors less tax, would consider a flat tax, and objects to the aspect of President Trump’s tax plan that limits the state and local deductions to $10,000.
“That might be great for Oklahoma, but the costs in California? That 10 grand doesn’t go very far,” he said. He would prefer a sliding scale based on how expensive it is to live in a state.
– He favors a barrier at the southern border, not to keep out migrant workers, with whom he has no problems, but to keep out drugs and members of various cartels and gangs. At the same time, he acknowledges that any wall wouldn’t completely keep out undesirable elements, but it would slow down the flow of drugs and violence entering.
“Some kind of barrier instead of an open desert is a better arrangement,” he said.
Cripe said he knows he is an underdog in this race. He entered late and lags far behind in fundraising, having only collected $15,410, of which $13,118 is available. But he is undeterred.
“If we have the ability to create change for the betterment of our community, then we should do that,” he said. “The question is run and let the voters decide if they think I have what it takes to be the change they want or need.”