A woman with a mission

Assembly candidate DeniAntoinette Mazingo’s life of service

Courtesy Deni Mazingo
Deni Mazingo, candidate for State Assembly 42nd District.

■ By Rusty Strait / Senior Reporter

DeniAntoinette “Deni” Mazingo is the Democratic candidate running against incumbent Chad Mayes in California’s 42nd Assembly District this November. I sat down for an interview with her early this week and to say I got an earful of ambition and energy would be an understatement.
Under the new California election rules, the two top vote-getters run against each other despite party. In the 42nd District, those two happened to be a Democrat and Republican – just like in the old days.
Mazingo left a thriving legal practice in Washington, D. C. in 2011 and took up residence in Hemet to be with her ailing mother. Very little grass grew under her feet once she arrived.
“I wanted to be active in my community; Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone appointed me as Commissioner for Women where I began to work with women on the streets in coordination with various organizations.”

Started a street ministry
Mazingo became leader of “Ladies of Charity” for the Diocese of San Bernardino. “I started a street ministry, providing food, clothing and referrals to women on the streets. I noticed an increase of women on the streets, not limited to runaways or anything like that. There were senior women, single women with children living in their cars. Some of them were veterans who were willing to give up their lives so we could have our freedom, living miserable lives. Many suffering mentally, physically and emotionally. Benefits were being denied to them. Some were in such bad conditions they didn’t even know where they were, what to do, or how to do it. That was, and is, one of my major causes once I am elected to the State Assembly.”
She expresses anger at the condition of the California Public Schools.” We used to be number one in education throughout the United States. Now we are number 44. California has the fifth largest economy in the world with 20 percent of our state living in poverty. It is a shameful disgrace for a state that has always been two steps ahead of the rest of the country. I want to attack that problem and help get us back to the top where we belong.”
She declares that she intends to be “the voice of those who are unable to speak for themselves. That’s always been my background.” Even though she is not currently practicing law for income, she still does pro-bono work for many who find they cannot afford a lawyer.

Homelessness is the issue
“Homelessness is, and has always been, my advocacy because that is the major economic issue within our community and state. Rents are so high that housing is out of sight for couples with young children and older citizens who lose their partners and are dependent on fixed incomes or no income at all. That needs to be addressed by every elected official. I intend to use my position as an Assembly person to force my colleagues to pay attention and join me in doing something, not just giving it lip service.”
She doesn’t let up on her concern for children and their education. “Kids on the street can’t go to school even if they want to because they have no address. No address, no admission to public schools.”
She is happy to delineate all the things she is anxious to address if she is elected, and she certainly has the confidence of someone who thinks she can win.
“Look at our healthcare situation. According to the studies I’ve been given, if we go with universal health care, we cut out the middle man, then the cost goes down and we have the ability to cover the costs. Between eliminating the middleman and going after the price-gouging pharmaceutical companies, the costs would become so reasonable we’d be wondering why we hadn’t done something about the lousy healthcare a long time ago,”

Stays in his ivory tower
She has something to say about her Republican opponent, too. “He is a nice person, but out of touch with the needs of our community because he stays in his ivory tower and doesn’t come to the communities to see what’s really going on. He spends a lot of time on SALTON Sea problems, which is mostly a federal problem, and a few projects in the high desert, but doesn’t address any problems on the west side of the mountains. I will represent all the people in the district, not just the privileged.”
She says she is not interested in any kind of fame or personal notice. “I believe a public servant should be serving all the public, not just those with money and position. Half the folks in this district don’t even know who he is and he’s been in office since 2014. He never comes around.”
Mazingo is a Rotarian and feels her life should be devoted to service as the Rotarian motto is: “Service Above Self.” To that end, Mazingo has held the following positions:
• Commissioner for Women 3rd District
• President of Ladies of Charity, San Bernardino Diocese
• National President of Las Amigas Inc.
• VP Soroptimist International, Hemet San Jacinto
• Riverside County Woman of the Year, State Sen. Mike Morrell, 2016
• Attorney: practiced for 16 years in the nation’s capital; since moving to California, provide pro bono services to the indigent
How does she feel about Proposition 6, a measure on the ballot that, if passed, will repeal the gas tax?

Deteriorating infrastructure
“Our infrastructure is deteriorating. Our roads and bridges are in desperate need of repair. Do you know how many jobs that would become nonexistent if it passes? Jobs that create income for individuals who pay taxes that contribute to our economy. Go check out Interstate 10 and see the work going on. If Proposition 6 passes, all of that will evaporate.”
Back to the homeless: “We should adopt plans like those working in Palm Springs and Palm Desert. They eliminate homelessness on the streets. All businesses in those communities have chipped in and purchased a couple of busses and a location where they pick up street people, bring them in, bathe them, give them clean clothes and a meal and then send them out for training within one of the small businesses involved, provide benefits where available and find suitable housing so they are not stranded with the elements. There’s no reason we couldn’t do that here. You don’t see the homeless sleeping in the doorways of Palm Springs
and Palm Desert. That’s because those communities care about their homeless as well as the business community.”
She places blame for most of our problems on elected officials and keeps returning to their lack of attention paid to education or lack thereof. “I think it is horrendous that schools have all but abandoned trade schools. What has happened to work shops, carpentry, machine shops, print shops and automotive mechanics? We need them to begin in middle school. Schools have forgotten that some people work better with their hands. Not everyone is equipped for, or even wants to go to, college. College is not the end all and be all for everyone. No matter how many technical advances we have, there is always a need for the trades”

Charter schools? nah
She doesn’t care for the charter schools as they are today. “They should be integrated into the public school system. Their staffs should be brought up to the same standards as the public schools. Their teachers do not receive the same pay or benefits. They reject unions. Without unions we would be still working for slave wages. Some folks forget that. Without unions we wouldn’t have a wage or a middle class, which is slowly slipping away. We would still have a 60-hour work week and child labor. Without unions we would become a totally two-class society – the rich and the poor.
And finally, but of great interest to the people in Hemet – she is dead set against the eight-mile median down the middle of Florida Avenue.
“That’s crazy. What is the purpose? Our streets are not wide enough for medians. That money could go to the reparation of Florida Avenue which is controlled by CalTrans, not the city.”
Whether you like her positions or love them, one cannot say she is not avid in her beliefs of what is wrong in the 42nd Assembly District and how to make it better. No matter who you support in the Nov. 6 election, if you don’t vote, you’ve wasted a precious right.

Just sayin’
rustystrait@gmail.com

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