Fidel brings fiery activism to Encinitas mayor’s race
Editor’s note: This is the fourth in a series profiling all mayoral candidates
Alex Fidel certainly isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
The 22-year-old mayoral candidate led a small protest outside of City Hall last January to criticize what he perceives as the militarization of the local Sheriff’s Department.
At candidate forums and online, he has vocally advocated for everything from legalizing hemp to banning genetically modified seeds from Encinitas soils.
In an interview last week, Fidel attributed his political involvement to his family’s history.
“Much of my family is from behind the Iron Curtain, so I used to hear stories of secret police and surveillance,” Fidel said.
He added that investigative articles about the National Security Agency’s surveillance program last year convinced him that history is doomed to repeat itself.
“It’s something that we have to act upon quick before things go south,” Fidel said.
To that end, Fidel is in favor of invoking the 10th Amendment to fight the federal government on surveillance and a host of other issues. Doing so, he acknowledged, could frequently land the city in court.
“What’s the alternative?” Fidel said. “Being silent and letting the fascism just roll over us? That’s the city council. They don’t even think this is an issue. They don’t have the same worries about history repeating itself.”
On a related note, Fidel cited a standoff that occurred last year in Leucadia as an example of police militarization.
In that case, a man shot and injured two county Sheriff’s deputies who were investigating an earlier confrontation between the man and his mother. Soon after, officers from surrounding departments and a SWAT team surrounded the neighborhood. Hours later, the gunman committed suicide.
Fidel stated Encinitas could become another Ferguson, Mo. if the city continues on the same path. This past summer, many criticized the Ferguson Police Department’s militarized response to civil unrest following an officer fatally shooting an unarmed black teenager.
When asked at forums, other candidates have condemned what happened in Ferguson. Yet they’ve also said the Encinitas Sheriff’s Department isn’t militarized and thus can’t be compared to Ferguson.
Fidel has also differentiated himself from other candidates by supporting Measure F. If approved in November, this would allow medical marijuana dispensaries to open in Encinitas.
“People who have an illness weren’t given a choice,” Fidel said, adding medical marijuana has proven effective in relieving chronic illnesses.
Another topic he’s passionate about is cutting city employees’ salaries. He said that because private residents have tightened their belts, it’s only fair that public workers follow suit.
“I know people who have master’s degrees who can’t even get a bagging job at like a WalMart,” Fidel said.
He also advocated for the Planning Department to give preference to organic farming ventures over fast-food restaurants and banks when issuing land permits.
“There is a favoritism within the Planning Department, because they approve the permits,” Fidel said. “They could be more activist and say we’re not going to be colonized by multinational corporations.”
He added: “Organic food is super expensive, because supply is limited.”
In the mayoral race, Fidel faces current Mayor Kristin Gaspar, current Deputy Mayor Tony Kranz, former mayor Sheila Cameron and Munawer “Mike” Bawany.
Fidel hasn’t raised more than $1,000 in campaign contributions. So, he wasn’t required to file paperwork listing contributors.
If elected mayor, Fidel said he alone couldn’t make a difference.
“Don’t rely on me for change,” Fidel said. “It’s about we, the people, rising up. If it’s 4-1 on the council and I’m alone with crickets chirping, then they’re just going to continue to represent the corporations.”
He added that the rest of the council would change its tune if “hundreds come together.”