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Richard Blackston, longtime Lodi Republican, now a Democratic activist

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Posted: Sunday, February 1, 2009 10:00 pm

Richard Blackston was an active Republican since he started a Republican club in eighth grade. But the Lodi resident says he struggled with what he considered a "private agenda" the Republican Party held.

"I continued to have this conflict until the 'Contract for America' came out (in 1994)," Blackston said.

Richard Blackston

He immediately changed his registration to the Democratic Party.

Blackston, 53, teaches severe-to-moderate handicapped students at Franklin High School. He has taught special education in the Stockton Unified School District since 1994. He previously taught at Galt High School and at Mary Graham Hall in Stockton.

He also serves as president of Democrats of Greater Stockton and the San Joaquin County Democratic Central Committee.

He lives in Lodi with his wife, former Lodi City Clerk Susan Blackston, who now holds the same position in Elk Grove; and stepson, Casey, 5.

Blackston responded to an e-mailed questionnaire from News-Sentinel staff writer Ross Farrow.

Q: What satisfaction do you get from your work at Franklin High?

A: Being a special needs teacher is difficult because you work with students who have a very poor track record of learning new and additional information. For some, it will take years to learn the most basic of information, and some may never understand what is being taught. But teachers and teaching assistants keep working to make it happen because it will allow that individual student to gain an increased degree of personal freedom over their life and future, something that general education students take for granted.

Q: How did you become active in the Democratic Party?

A: I was in eighth grade when I was asked to meet my state assemblyman and state senator to discuss developing a Republican Club at school. I was elected to the San Luis Obispo Republican Central Committee back in the 1970s. The highlight was working at the Republican National Convention in 1976 in Kansas City. I worked with the group called "Youth for Reagan from California."

During the convention, we were allowed unlimited access "behind the curtain." I experienced situations that will never be in history books. It was a turning point in my political development, and I spent a very long time thinking about the public vs. the private agenda of the Republican Party.

Q: How long have you been a member of the Democratic Central Committee? What is the committee's general purpose?

A: I started attending meetings about four years ago and was appointed as a member a few months later. My interest was to take all the lessons I learned with the Republican Party and bring it to the Democratic Party. I was elected chairperson last July.

When you become involved at a Central Committee level and higher, you take on a different view of campaigns and elections. We think in larger and longer terms. The day after any election day, we look to the next campaign, set of candidates, issues and election.

The San Joaquin County Democratic Central Committee is already developing our trainings, fund-raisers and campaigns for the next two years, but you have to remember the Republicans are doing the same.

That is the beauty of our political system in the United States. The political parties are working to develop the best set of candidates, issues and direction.

Q: Is this a paid position?

A: All my political positions and activities are done as a volunteer.

Q: How long have you been a member of Democrats of Greater Stockton?

A: Less than two years. I was elected president about 10 months ago.

Q: What is the organization's purpose? How does it differ from an organization like Greater Lodi Area Democrats?

A: The only real difference between the Greater Lodi Area Democrats and the Democrats of Greater Stockton is location, officers and members. In general, we are all the same with mild differences. Our main purpose is to promote the goals and objectives of the California Democratic Party.

Q: What is the greatest satisfaction you've had with either organization?

A: Winning elections. Democrats worked very long and hard to elect a number of local officials on school boards, city councils, and state and national positions. I am very proud of the work that was done by so many individuals in the 10th Assembly District to elect our Assemblywoman, Alyson Huber. She is an outstanding individual who will work with all citizens of the district.

Q: If you could take President Barack Obama on a tour of San Joaquin County, where would you two go, and where would you have lunch?

A: I have had the pleasure of being around six presidents or members of the first family, and Mr. Obama is one of them. As for where would I take him to eat, my first thought is to take him to my home and enjoy a home-cooked meal that my wife has prepared.

Q: When you're not teaching or politicking, what do you enjoy doing for relaxation?

A: Some of the best time in the week is when Susan and I can take our Husky out for a walk, or better yet, it is when she takes us out for a walk/run. It is a good time to walk, share ideas, complain about the state of things. It is also a great time to view the beauty of our region - the hills, creeks, animals, birds, crops, etc. I also collect plant seeds and bring them to school so that my students can learn how to propagate them and plant them in the community when they are large enough to survive.

Q: What is your favorite movie, TV show and music?

A: "The Jim Lehrer Report on PBS," the Animal Channel's "Growing Up" … and "NCIS." I enjoy reading political and historical books, and doing Internet research. I love listening to talk radio and hearing all the different discussions. The diverse opinions and thoughts challenge me to view ideas and concepts from a number of viewpoints.

Contact reporter Ross Farrow at rossf@lodinews.com.

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  • posted at 7:48 am on Thu, Feb 5, 2009.


    Oops, the last post should be in this order:" Cogito: So it's pranks you want eh? Try the following:http://www.manbottle.com/humor/Anger_ManagementYes, I do like the idea of listening to him. Your ideas are great. Maybe we could give him real crappy service with a lot of dead zones plus a lot of features that we can charge him for but not actually deliver.I would like to suggest a Publisher's Clearing House ruse. When he opens the door, Ed McMann puts one through Bin Laden's head. Then he says, "oh wait, this check says Barak O'bama. Our mistake" "Enjoy your trip. I'll be here. With the rain.Now it should be funnier.

  • posted at 7:46 am on Thu, Feb 5, 2009.


    Cogito: So it's pranks you want eh? Try the following: http://www.manbottle.com/humor/Anger_ManagementYes, I do like the idea of listening to him. Your ideas are great. Maybe we could give him real crappy service with a lot of dead zones plus a lot of features that we can charge him for but not actually deliver.Enjoy your trip. I'll be here. With the rain.I would like to suggest a Publisher's Clearing House ruse. When he opens the door, Ed McMann puts one through Bin Laden's head. Then he says, "oh wait, this check says Barak O'bama. Our mistake"

  • posted at 2:27 pm on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Also Sven, thanks for the heads up. I'll tivo the program. I'm going to Cabo baby. Toes in the sand, margarita in my hand, chiquitas on the other side of my Ray Bans. Can you dig it? I knew that you could.

  • posted at 2:24 pm on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Sven, maybe it was because he used "bomb" and "Allah" in the same conversation. Does it bother you that we listened in on Bin Laden and his friends? If I had his phone # I'd prank him. Act like a telemarketer with mock middle eastern accent. Try and get him to commit to a timeshare presentation and nab him. He's got to be tired of living in a cave.

  • posted at 11:53 am on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    PS Cogito:Some say I'm only able to wage half a war of wits.

  • posted at 11:52 am on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Cogito:Our battle of wits and words aside, check out Nova on PBS this week. It'll replay again a couple of times before Sunday.We had Bin Laden's phone number and knew where the little command post was. And basically listened in on his phone calls. Check it out.

  • posted at 2:48 am on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Sven, any data gathered under the Patriot Act was not done by a guy in a room listening to random phone calls. That is nothing more than scare tactics by leftist Fascists. ( had to throw one more in there since you're keeping count) I'm sure it was all done electronically listening for key words like "bomb" and "Allah" in the same conversation. Nobody cares about how many Hostess Donuts you buy (MMMMMMM DONUTS). But I am all for our government being relentless in their pursuit of terrorists. Not something I have much confidence in the new administration pursuing with dogged determination.

  • posted at 12:52 am on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Cogito, I did like your comment on the US not keeping up on Mexican technology on another topic.

  • posted at 12:31 am on Wed, Feb 4, 2009.


    Cogito: What do you call this "I also found his last answer about listening to the diversity of talk radio interesting because if many in his party have their way, those voices will be censored, or silenced. Democrats don't like diversity when it comes to thoughts. "? You know, the right is constantly harping on a loss of freedoms, but if you look at the last 8 years (read:Patriot Act) big brother's intrusion into our private lives is tremendous. Yes it is probably a good way to stop potential terrorist attacks, and I am no conspiracy buff, but I get a little weird when I think some low level staffer is looking at how many Hostess chocklate donuts I buy at Lucky's. Or what movies I rent, or books I order from Amazon. You should be to since I'm sure they have access to the information we submitted to get on this forum.(Hate word total this topic = 3 (fascism)

  • posted at 3:23 pm on Tue, Feb 3, 2009.


    Sven, I'm unaware of any effort by the right to limit free speech. Could you please enlighten me? On the left it's called the "Fairness Doctrine". They may call it something different when rolled out, but it will be the same Fascism in a different wrapper.

  • posted at 12:07 pm on Tue, Feb 3, 2009.


    Richard Blackston:Be strong. All those from the other side have is their name-calling. Their arguments lack substance and are razor thin. Which is why they need terms like "fool" and "liberal" and there will be more to come. Is this the "free speech" they feel will be censored?

  • posted at 12:00 pm on Tue, Feb 3, 2009.


    citizen: re 7:39 PM post.Your children would be lucky to have a man like Richard Blackston as a teacher.Your confusing his personal political beliefs with his performance in the classroom. I know Richard Blackston. Don't know anything about his politics until I read this story. Adults are allowed to disagree in one area and applauded in another.

  • posted at 5:14 pm on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    I find it interesting that this mans idealism as a Republican was so shaken by the "Contract With America". In a nutshell, the contract stood for smaller government, lower taxes, a friendlier business environment, tort reform, and welfare reform. If the Republicans would return their platform to the provisions included in the "Contract", maybe they'd return to winning elections again. I also found his last answer about listening to the diversity of talk radio interesting because if many in his party have their way, those voices will be censored, or silenced. Democrats don't like diversity when it comes to thoughts.

  • posted at 1:39 pm on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    I just thank god this fool isnt one of my sons teachers. Wow 4Astrong still blaming Pete Wilson. Guess the pathetic dysfunctional legislature has nothing to do with the problems of this state huh? Our state govt is embarassing. If I lived in another state I would be pissed that the pork stuffed stimulus package is also bailing out out of control spending states like california.

  • posted at 5:58 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    lynn and dogbark: Both of you are correct. Part of the reason is that politicians are nbaturally greedy, the other part is that the old saying "divide and conquer" is used by the central banks to control BOTH parties. Party officials need to stand together to stop the printing of billions of dollars for people who want to turn around to use it to loan US back OUR tax payers money. It makes no sense to give them FREE money and have them charge us for small loan amount PLUS interest. It should be BOTH political parties for the USA. At this time, all our grief stems from lack of regulating the central bankers. You don't need to be an economist to know that when you loan a jobless homeless person $500,000 to buy an old house built before World war II there will be consequences. Now that housing prices are returning to earth it is easy to see. But the bankers still want that $500k for the shack.

  • posted at 5:16 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    To dogbark: I know a tax cheat when I see one also, their names are Tom Daschle and Tim Geithner. One already in a cabinet position and the other one soon to follow. If that were you or me, we both would be in jail. I think all politians should be audited. If they were, we would have enough money in back taxes and penalties to pay for the stimulus (aka: pork) plan.

  • posted at 4:28 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    While I was still paying off student loans, my first boss (a biggie in Republican politics) bragged he'd fully deducted his son's education by funding a tax deductable 'scholarship' for a cronie's son, who'd done the same for his son. Then he griped that now his tax dollars went to educate 'liberals' thru the student loan program yet he no longer had kids in college.He was always abusively condescending to 'liberal' democrats. But hey, I know a tax cheat when I see one.

  • posted at 4:22 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    I'm not sure I'm understanding the timing of this article. Mr. Blakstone switched party's in 1994. What's the significance of this in 2009? Maybe the headline is misleading. Perhaps the headline should have stated, "Blackstone Elected President of local Democrats".

  • posted at 2:21 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    WTF: I agree. A neconned Republican party is the same as the Democratic party. They both support central bankers.

  • posted at 2:19 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    Party affiliation is really not important. Power in the US is all about the central banks. These billionaires contribute money to BOTH parties for a reason. President Obama, allegedly a liberal, received most of his campaign money from big banks. They know there is little difference between Republicans and Democrats except for sloganeering. Both of these political parties are different sides of ONE movement, the "central banker party". Look where they donate campaign money. Both parties! Where are the anti-central bankers? Only one candidate- Dr. Ron Paul. Where are literally TRILLIONS of tax dollar "bailouts" going? To central banks as a GIFT! No work is required in return other than a hope that they start lending money to poor folks at interest. How can the banks lend it, if it isn't theirs? The money is FREE to banks to do as they please. No strings attached. We need to reassess this "Democrat vs Republican" fantasy. Forget about the phoney hot button issues like welfare and abortion. These issues only exist to keep our eyes off the real problems---central banks and the Federal Reserve.

  • posted at 2:18 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    Another confused liberal.

  • posted at 2:17 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    A lot of Republicans didn't like the agenda of the Neo-conned Republican Party, either; which is why Ron Paul began the Campaign for Liberty...to get the Republican Party back on track.http://www.campaignforliberty.com/index.php

  • posted at 2:00 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    Welcome aboard Richard!Steve - Are you crazy? Why do you think Califonria consistently ranks as one of the worst state's in terms of education? It's because of Pete Wilson and the Republicans in this state...and that's just one of many areas where they've destroyed our state.

  • posted at 1:12 am on Mon, Feb 2, 2009.


    Wow Richard you have to be nothing but proud to be representing the Democrat party here in California, a party that has done all it can to completely destroy this once great state. Congrats.



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