David Cushman is 23 years old. He has a keen interest in politics. That said, he hasn’t felt the “Bern.”
The Manteca native is running for two offices in the coming six months. On June 7, he is seeking election to one of the District 3 seats on the San Joaquin County Republican Central Committee. Then on Nov. 8, he is running for one of two seats on the Manteca City Council.
At first glance, you might think Cushman would be an ideal fit for the Bernie Sanders army of young, college-educated adults.
He just recently finished college. He has found it a struggle to secure affordable housing, he’s working essentially in a fast food restaurant, and his parents are living with the lingering economic burden of having their business hammered by the Great Recession.
One though, should never judge an aspiring political leader by his age.
Cushman made it a point to secure his degree at Stanislaus State without going into debt. It was hard to find, but Cushman and his wife who both work fulltime are renting a duplex unit they can afford in Manteca on their combined income. He’s worked at Panda Express’ East Manteca location for the past several years. He makes it clear it is a good job and honest work and views it as what it is meant to be — the first step toward what eventually is a job that will make it possible for his family to live comfortably. And he is acutely aware of the burdensome, overkill regulations that government can impose on businesses making it difficult at best to succeed and often impossible to create new jobs. He saw how his parents put in 10 to 14 hour days working to make Pietro’s Restaurant a success and supporting their family.
Cushman who also worked in the restaurant took away a number of valuable lessons from the family business as well as from his parents. Work has value. Avoid debt when possible. Rely on your own initiatives. And there are serious threats to the private sector that generates the lion’s share of jobs in this country from overreaching government regulations.
Cushman relates how his father “has a passion to prepare food for other people” but as the years went by his dad was spending more and more time handling government paperwork than creating dishes in the kitchen.
Cushman’s strong, home-grown fiscal conservative roots are accented with social views that include a strong belief in protecting innocent lives.
That said, what drew him to the Republican Party are it’s tenets that government should have minimum intrusion into the lives of its citizens. While that may not translate into reality with decisions some elected Republicans make, Cushman believes that conservatives need to work together and put aside differences to secure common goals such as less government to allow more self-reliance and more individual freedom.
He also found that conservative voices are drowned out in college. For a while he belonged to an on-campus Republican student group but saw that wilt away.
Those are some of the reasons he wants to represent Republicans in Lathrop, north of Yosemite Avenue in Manteca and in north and west Stockton as well as the Delta as a District 3 member of the GOP Central Committee. The grunt work that entails — registering voters and walking precincts for candidates — is what Cushman said is essential to strengthen the voice of conservatives in California.
Cushman, who is the current president of the Manteca Tea Party, hopes to eventually establish a Young Republicans Club in Manteca.
Cushman makes it clear he is not among the central committee candidates being backed by tech millionaire Charles Munger Jr. who wants to blunt the conservative movement with a more moderate Republican Party. Munger was a key financial backer of Proposition 40 that makes the two top vote getters regardless of party affiliation to advance from primary elections to the general election ballot. The proposition is making it likely that two Democrats will be on the ballot and no Republican on Nov. 8 when Californians vote to replace Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate.
As for the City Council race, Cushman has heard elected council members talk for years about the need to work toward affordable housing opportunities and more jobs so young people from Manteca graduating from high school and college don’t have to go elsewhere to look for jobs and live.
Cushman, to say the least, doesn’t think what has been done so far is very effective.
He noted to keep young people in town it also requires amenities such as a downtown that is a draw as a gathering place.
He also thinks young couples should be able to live in Manteca without each of them having to hold down two full-time jobs.
In reality, the concerns he has as a 23-year-old aren’t much different than those of Manteca residents twice or three times his age.
The big difference is that he’s at a point in his life where those issues aren’t just abstract concepts that people wish for their children. Cushman and his wife are trying to live and work here. He also knows of others his age frustrated that they can’t secure decent rental housing or decent jobs.
That gives him arguably an even bigger impetus to find answers to the jobs, housing, and social amenities shortcomings that Manteca has struggled with over the decades.
This column is the opinion of executive editor, Dennis Wyatt, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of The Bulletin or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209.249.3519.