There may not be a bluer state in the country than California, although there are certainly areas of the state which are as conservative as rural Texas. Getting elected to statewide office as a Republican is problematic at best (unless you’re the Terminator).
I spoke with Konstantinos Roditis (“Kons” to his friends), GOP candidate for State Controller, about this and some other issues. I had questions on policy, politics, and challenges.
To understand the conversation better, know that the State Controller in California is the person in charge of audits, and can be described as the person most responsible for investigating fraud, waste, and abuse. Mr. Roditis pointed to California’s high-speed rail project as an obvious example of waste.
BW: What specific education and experience do you have that makes you feel qualified for the position of State Controller?
KR: I received a Bachelors in Political Science from UCSD with a focus in national and international security studies, which gave me an education on how to navigate the political bureaucracy.
I then worked for The Performance Institute, a San Diego based think tank, where I helped develop a plan for budget and pension reform in San Diego.
I’ve also run several small businesses, and so I am fully versed on what fiscal discipline looks like and what needs to happen to cut wasteful spending.
BW: What makes you a better choice than your opponent, the incumbent Betty Yee?
KR: The post of State Controller is supposed to be apolitical. The only thing the Controller should be looking at is making sure programs and projects are running in an efficient and cost-effective manner, regardless of whose pet project it might be. Ms. Yee has failed to audit several obvious wasteful projects and programs such as the high-speed rail project.
As State Controller, I will audit all programs that need it regardless of whether I like the said project or program. I’m a staunch conservative and a Federalist, so while I may not agree with many liberal programs, I recognize the right of Californians to make those decisions for themselves. I owe it to the taxpayers of California to make certain their money is being used in the most efficient possible manner; which any taxpayer, regardless of political affiliation or ideology, should want.
Betty Yee has remained silent on the politicization of fiscal policy, programs, and pension investment strategies, and in these ways, I believe she has been an absent Controller.
BW: If elected, what would be your top priorities?
KR: Well, obviously the most important thing to do would be to audit those programs that have gone unchecked for the previous four years.
After that, it is advocating sound fiscal policy through trickle-up taxation.
BW: You’ve made trickle-up taxation a big part of your platform and written about it several times. Can you explain trickle-up taxation and why you feel it is important?
KR: Sure. In business, a producer makes a product, who then sells it to a distributor, who then sells it to a wholesaler, who then sells it to a retailer. Each time the product changes hands the price increased to cover costs and profit.
In much the same way, when money is collected by Sacramento and then distributed back to the counties and municipalities, who then distribute it to their programs and services there is the potential for fraud and costs that are unnecessary. Allowing monies to stay locally saves taxpayer dollars because, in a sense, it cuts out the middleman (e.g. distributor, wholesalers, and retailers).
Trickle-up taxation keeps more taxpayer dollars locally. Giving communities the ability to address their unique needs without having to lobby Sacramento for money. It brings government to where it should be, the local level.
By implementing trickle-up taxation you will take power away from Sacramento and gives it back to local communities, where each communities needs and desires are best met instead of a centralized government agency far removed from one’s community.
For example, if San Fransisco wants a single-payer healthcare system, I may not personally think it’s a good idea, but I don’t live there and should have no say in it. With trickle-up taxation all the money for the program comes from the local population, not the state, and therefore it’s not my money going to a program in San Fransisco. Thus, it’s really about returning power and money to local communities and preventing fraud, waste, and abuse at the state level.
Further, it will create competition between California communities to have a business-friendly tax system, which will keep businesses from fleeing the state altogether to places like Texas, and rather keeps those businesses in the state but perhaps in a more business-friendly city.
BW: Turning from policy and to politics for a moment, what challenges do you see yourself having getting elected in deep-blue California, and how do you plan to overcome them?
KR: Well they are extensive, especially right now. The country is as polarized as it has been in decades, politically, and many on both sides tend to paint the other side with a broad brush, assuming they are “Nazis” or “Communists.”
While I am very conservative, whenever I’ve explained my policy ideas to liberals, they have actually really liked them. I’m willing to go anywhere and talk to anyone to speak about policy. If everyone could just get past labels and instead listen to policy, I think the voters of California will be receptive to my message, because ultimately it does help them.
BW: Last week US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that he was changing the Obama-era policy of not using Federal law enforcement to go after marijuana in states where it is legal. California is perhaps the most prominent of the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, via a voter-approved ballot measure. How do you feel about this?
KR: This move by Jeff Sessions is an absolute violation of state’s powers. I didn’t personally vote in favor of legalizing marijuana, but I respect the voters of California and what they want for the state is paramount. I join with Democrats and Republicans alike who are calling for Sessions to resign or be fired. Anyone who cares about states powers and an overreaching Federal Government should care about this issue, regardless of your personal stance on marijuana.
That is why if I was in the U.S. Senate I would not have voted to confirm Jeff Sessions. With his unconstitutional stance of violating state powers because of his stance on marijuana and his love of the unconstitutional and wholly un-American civil asset forfeiture programs, I could not and still cannot support him as Attorney General.
My loyalty is to the Constitution and the rule of law not being a party hack that will support anyone because we happen to wear the same jersey.
If you want to learn more about Mr. Roditis and his policy positions, visit his campaign website here.
- Author’s disclosure: The author of this piece, who interviewed the candidate, is a colleague of the candidate, but interviewed him under the same rules as any other interview.