Lodi Citizens in Action, the local Tea Party association, was formed a year ago Thursday, with eight women gathering and not knowing what direction to go.
Now they are more than 250 strong, with 64 of them dues-paying members. They also have about 45 members on Facebook and 25 in the www.meetup.com group.
Charter member Arlene Farley said she was one of eight women who met in a living room on April 1, 2009. Farley said, "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take it anymore, and we've got to do something."
Linda Gooden, of Acampo, maintains that despite the conservative stance Lodi Citizens in Action and national Tea Party organizations share, it's not a Republican organization.
"We are not Republican, Democrat or Independent — we're Americans," Gooden said.
Gooden, who attended a Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C., last year with her husband, said she learned a lot about who is involved in the Tea Party: "They love their country, they don't like what is going on and they're involved for the first time."
In fact, Lodi Citizens in Action President Kim Parigoris said that Americans need to watch what the Republicans do just as much as the Democrats.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, and Assemblywoman Alyson Huber, D-El Dorado Hills, are among the elected officials who have been invited to speak at Lodi Citizens in Action meetings, but they haven't yet, Parigoris said.
Lodi Citizens in Action is affiliated with Tea Party Patriots, a national organization, but Lodi has its autonomy, and the Patriots don't tell their affiliates what to do, Parigoris said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.
Lodi Citizens in Action members at a glance
Occupation: Self-employed in aviation business.
Joined Citizens in Action: Four to six months ago.
Why: "I think we have deviated from the Constitution in several areas. Can we put people in there who will back our Constitution and do what the people want? They can be Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian. I don't care what they are as long as they follow the Constitution."
Residence: Lockeford since 1998
Occupation: Operations manager for a construction company.
Joined Citizens in Action: June 2009; became president in August.
Why: "We're fearing our government. There are things going on at lightning speed. We've been asleep at the wheel since the 1960s."
Residence: Acampo since 1977
Occupation: Self-employed; washes and repairs horse blankets
Joined Citizens in Action: First meeting in October; joined in November.
Why: "I went to the meeting after telling people we have a bunch of stupid people in office. Actually, the stupid people are us for voting for incumbents. I joined because I wanted to learn what is going on. I've never been active before. I'm still learning. It's like going back to school."
Residence: Lodi since 1972
Occupation: Retired elementary teacher at Oak View School in Acampo.
Joined Citizens in Action: April 1, 2009.
Why: "I have a degree in history. A professor at Chico State taught the history of the Soviet Union. He lived under the communist government in Czechoslovakia. He learned that the communist philosophy is, 'The end justifies the means,' and I see that happening now (in the United States). I feel my country is being hijacked. I believe illegal immigration is threatening our sovereignty."
Residence: Acampo for about 10 years
Occupation: Helps husband with his asphalt paving business; previously a massage therapist for 13 years.
Joined Citizens in Action: Shortly after April 15, 2009, Tea Party rally in Sacramento.
Why: "I've been a Christian for a long, long time. My father and father-in-law served in World War II, my son is in Iraq. I see things going on in this country that are going down. Every time our president goes to a foreign country, he never talks about the exceptionalism of our country. We're turning into a European socialist country."