Mark began his talk recalling the experiences he and his wife shared as they were young. As newlyweds, they sold everything they owned and backpacked across 13 countries in Europe, including communist Hungary, where they were detained.
“We have a pretty good idea of what a communist country looks, smells, and tastes like,” he said. He doesn't want that happening to his home country.
On return to America, he saw the country with new eyes, “We came back here and had the biggest culture shock of our lives. We grew up here, we had no idea how phenomenally rich, how phenomenally developed this country is until we left and came back.”
Since having sold all their possessions, Mark and his wife returned to the country homeless. They lived in a tent out in the desert, having to get water every day from a local gas station. Today, the new challenge they share is running a lean campaign for California’s 25th Congressional District, aiming to be “a common sense voice, a different voice” in today’s politics.
“What is the governments number one job?” Mark asked the audience. “To keep us safe,” a member responded. “Now let me ask you this,” he continued, “how many of you actually feel safe today?”
“I know we’re having a hard time keeping our own officers safe. . . .The last officer we lost was ordering Jack in the Box and the suspect walked up behind him and put one round in the back of his head. We just had a CHP officer killed on the 15th doing a traffic stop and this guy jumps out and opens up on him with a rifle. . . .Our safety in our country is a huge, huge challenge.”
Mark went on to explain that, because of this, we’re constantly being asked to forfeit liberties to get safety, which in the big picture, is an illusion. We can feel safe or not feel safe. Europe doesn’t have the same constitutional rights of the United States, but they have strict laws, and Mark and his wife often felt safer in Europe. So what’s the solution for our country?
Enforce current laws. Mark said he would like to see government back off on writing new laws that encroach further and further on personal liberty, and instead, work on enforcing the current laws. “If we can start enforcing what’s already on the books, everyone is going to start feeling safer because some of the stuff that’s happening will get dealt with the way it was meant to be.”
“For me, I want to basically protect the Constitution, and in that, protect the liberties of each and every person here.” Mark explained that he is against red flag laws because they encroach on those freedoms, such as the 14th amendment of due process, search and seizure laws, and the 2nd amendment because it only focuses on the weapon. “If somebody is a threat,” he explained, “and all I do is go and take a gun away. . . .I have not reduced the threat, I have just changed what the threat is going to look like when it’s executed. . . .we have to deal with what the threat is and the threat is the individual person”
Moving forward, Mark talked about his campaign’s three main values: family, faith, and service. “Family’s always been my big thing,” he said, and went on to speak out on the condition of the American family today. “Some of the safety issues we have is because families are failing. They’re collapsing. . . .26% of American families are what we would call original biological nucleus families. That means both biological parents are still in the home. Only 26%. That means 74% of those families are something else. It has an impact on how we raise children.” Mark clarified that just because a family is blended, or otherwise not biologically connected, they’re not bad, it simply has an impact on communities today.
Continuing to faith, “Our faith is where we get our morality. I don’t care what faith you’re from, but all faiths, for the most part across this planet, include a way to behave that’s morally sound–opposed to just no faith at all.” With this, Mark says that as a country, we’re losing our morality, our ethics, and our values. He hopes for a resurgence of faith, dedication, and respectful behaviors towards each other, especially within diverse communities.
“Last thing is service. I am very frustrated that we constantly keep looking to government to fix our problems. Constantly. Everyone wants a new law, we want our elected people to legislate this, legislate that. We can’t legislate morality. We can’t legislate community service. We have to take ownership of our own communities. We have to take it back.” Mark explained that regardless of political affiliation, we need to meet our neighbors and come together; we need to learn how to be friends again, how to be family again. There’s strength in unity, and that strength will help cause some of our social ills today to dissipate.
In bringing up Congressional campaigns, Mark highlighted what he sees as wasted funds in campaigning. Looking at the last district campaign between Katie Hill and Steve Knight, Katie spent over 8 million dollars and Steve spent almost 2.5 million. “What does the community get behind that? What do we get?” Mark asked. “They spent 10 million dollars to tell us how good they are and what did we get? All that campaign money comes from somebody’s personal pocket. . . .But what does the voter get in return?”
“We’re trying something new,” Mark announced. “We’re going to do a trash cleanup as a fundraiser. . . .My team’s going to do a cleanup regardless if we get a dime. That’s what I committed to doing, and that’s what I’m doing. I’ve done a lot of them with VIDA as community service projects where we take the kids out. We’re going to do a cleanup. Plain and simple.” With that, Mark laughed about, of course, wanting donations, but is excited to try a different way of fundraising wherein at the very least, the community will be just a little bit cleaner and nicer for its members.
If you’re elected, what will your policies be?
Mark answered that he wants to “champion enforcing existing policies” rather than being quick to pass new policies. He also wants to help local organizations and businesses with funding–especially those doing work with families. He explained that these programs often fail to be competitive because they don’t know how to do federal grant packages. Congress passes a lot of money every year to fund these exact community-based organizations, but they’re not getting to the people. “That’s what Mayor Garcetti just got in trouble for. He was sitting on over two hundred million dollars for the homeless—money already earmarked, already paid for by taxpayers—not getting to the homeless. It’s the accountability of those funds. It’s streamlining those existing funds to get to the people.”
One of the first things Mark wants to do in Congress, with his allotted money for staff, is a hire a grant writer who is free and accessible to the district in order to get funding where it’s needed. If there needs to be new legislation, Mark said that he would look into it as needed, but he doesn’t believe Congress should heavily dictate or regulate business. Rather, he believed the federal level should “back up” and “restore some of the liberties that we’re supposed to have”. Government should not be allowed to continue to grow at the cost of our freedoms.
Where do you stand on national security—our Southern border?
As a Marine and cop, Mark said his first instinct is to contain perimeters. He likes borders. “We love to patrol a barrier as opposed to just open field. You try to find someone in an open field, the risk to us is way higher.”
However, cost is a concern. Mark explained that whether you’re dealing with a fixed barrier, technology, or patrols and personnel, it’s going to be expensive. The program needs to be wrestled with. It’s going to cost America no matter what we choose. Even still, Mark believes a border is necessary, “I think it will stop the drugs. We know that the narcotics that we’re getting in the streets right here, is coming across that border. The lion’s share of it.” On heroin, Mark explained that it’s on the rise and that it is often mixed with fentanyl, which has been causing mass overdoses. “You want to talk about the amount of fentanyl that’s being captured at the border? It’s enough to kill all of us if they dump that into one of our water tanks. It’s sobering when you actually start looking at the real threat there.”
Secondly, Mark believes a border wall will help stop sex trafficking. “3 out of 10 kids, they know, are not of the family they say they are,” he mentioned, adding that because of this, he understands the need to separate the children from the adults and run DNA tests in order to determine which are real families and which are trafficking children. “Some of the stories coming from the border that media won’t tell you. . . .I’m going to tell you, they’re horrendous. We had a 6 year old girl that was found unconscious, they took her to the clinic, they realized that she had genitalia abrasions, they went and they did the sexual assault tests and they found 20 different samples.”
“The border has to be addressed,” Mark emphasized. ‘What’s going on right now needs to stop.”
In closing, Trevor Hibbert presented a Certificate of Appreciation to Mark Cripe for being featured speaker of the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce and two members, including Trevor, spoke to Mark’s involvement in his community.
“One of the things that moves me with any public servant, is when I see boots on the ground. I had the opportunity to work with Homes for Families last week. There were several nights last week when all the children and assorted animals were sleeping that I was out there digging and moving trash and laying bricks improperly into the wee hours. And I do want to say that Mark was there with me. That impresses me. A dedication to this community. And Mark has been dedicated to this community as a member of law enforcement for years. I’ve had interactions with him in my presence here as a Director of the Chamber for several years. Mark is already a good public servant.”
“As your 2001 president of Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce, Mark Cripe was a major driving factor in creating what is currently the Quartz Hill Chamber of Commerce’s office, as I had managed that a year before as duplex, a single family residence basically, and we eventually convinced the owner to allow us to work on—to create the opportunity for it to become something other than a single family residence—and Mark was a major player in helping to bring in all the volunteers and all the different people to help create that facility to become the beautiful facility it is today. ”