The MGH Report

Michael G. Haran, Proprietor

LET”S DO IT in 2018

Posted by on Feb 12, 2018

By Michael Haran

The following link shows the counties that Trump won in an inter-active format. The site states, “At present count, Trump snagged 220 counties that voted for President Obama in 2012, while Clinton poached 17 that went for Mitt Romney.” Most of these counties are in the rust-belt swing states. California has 14 Republican Congressional House seats. If seven can be flipped to Democrats that would represent nearly a third of the 24 seats Democrats need to take control of the House. Nationwide, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has identified 59 Republican-held districts they believe can be won by a Democrat.

As important as taking back the U.S. Congress is it is just as important for the Democrats to fare well in the 36 gubernatorial contests and thousands of state legislative races next year, where Republicans currently hold a 3,034 to 2,317 advantage. The past 10 years have eroded the Democratic base, as fewer ideas are percolating up from the states. Republican gerrymandering has cost at least a dozen House seats and hundreds in state legislatures. State governments also often serve as training grounds to develop candidates for higher office and provide national awareness.

In 1979 the Republicans were in the same boat the Democrats find themselves today. The Democrats controlled all three branches of government and the gloom of the post-Watergate era hung over them like a rural graveyard fog.  Then along came Ronald Reagan with his upbeat message. He projected a can-do optimism that was welcomed after a series of economic, military and political shocks, tailoring his conservative message to appeal to the gas station attendant, as well as the wealthy country club set. In 1980, Republicans won a majority in the Senate for the first time in more than 25 years and made major gains in statehouses as well.

Most political party comebacks are marked not by some innovative policy agenda, but by connective messages and powerful personalities like Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and Trump. It’s not about ideology or 17-point policy prescriptions. “In 2016, the problem was not about an agenda; we had that,” said Paul Begala, a leading Democratic strategist and close associate of Bill and Hillary Clinton. “The problem was message.”

Last month, Democratic congressional leaders put out a “Better Deal” agenda, a familiar litany of proposals like a higher minimum wage, lower drug prices, more job training and less corporate welfare. As stated by Albert R. Hunt in his article “Democrats need a fresh message to win in 2018,” for the Bloomberg View, “Although it does have its uses, bold or innovative it’s not. It’s a good organizing tool for candidates to be more than just anti-Trump,” said Stephanie Cutter, a former deputy campaign manager for Obama and a strategist in the successful 2006 Democratic campaign to win back a majority in the House. A much better slogan would be “LET’S DO IT!” This slogan works on many levels plus it sounds fun and exciting.

What I think would be a great idea, would be to put a number of cargo vans (like the Ford 250 Transit which you can stand up in) on the road in every Republican-held congressional district that has a chance of flipping to the Democrats in 2018. These vans, which will have LET’S DO IT! painted on the sides, should carry a team with the Democratic candidate into these counties and towns and hold a town-hall style BBQ and talk to people about how they feel about jobs, healthcare and education.

This program would target the areas where disenfranchised voters switched to Republican to tell them the truth about Trump (although most know it by now) and, by the time this project is rolled out (in time for the mid-term 2018 elections), Trump the fraud and con artist should have been well-cemented in people’s minds. The message would focus on retraining people to work in the service sector or tech sector since many of the jobs lost are not coming back because they were either replaced by more efficient green energy alternatives or were automated. The United States has the most advanced service economy in the world and there is no reason why people should not take advantage of it. From the commentary patterns that emerge, scripts would be written with enough flexibility to adjust to a particular community’s sentiments. This data could help determine the message on the local, regional, and even national levels.

The message should also be authentic and crafted in a way that avoids issues like abortion, uniformity on transgender soldiers, higher corporate tax rates, lower defense spending and impeaching Trump – all political poison policy proposals that won’t play well in closely-fought battlegrounds that Democrats need to win. The mistakes that Clinton made in saying to the coal country that, “your jobs are not coming back” or to the wealthy Democratic donors, “your taxes will be going up” have to be avoided. These issues may be true but you don’t state the obvious. The same has to be done when referencing Trump. Never state the obvious. Motivating and getting people to engage is a three-step process:

  • First, the issue presented requires an emotional response;
  • the second phase is reflecting or thinking about the particular phenomenon;
  • and the third phase is action

If successful, an authentic message will be sufficiently motivational to get people to engage to help reverse the true ugliness that has been unleashed by this administration.

This program can work on the state and local level too. Although the message would have to include local and regional issues (as Tip O’Neill said, “All politics is local.”), there will be plenty of Democratic contenders to help field-test the party’s message. The experiment will be successful if it yields messengers who best counter the failings of Trump. Starting at the lowest level of elected officials, like local school boards, candidates must know about governing without appearing to be elitist, who can be dignified as well as approachable, are persuasive in articulating Democratic themes like the dangers of income inequality and wage stagnation, and just might be able to create some local enthusiasm.

Over the past ten years I’ve watched California State Senator Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg) come of age. At 19 years old, he was the youngest person ever elected to the town school board.  He studies the issues and listens to constituents. He suffers fools graciously and will listen to anyone until one of his aides drags him away. I think Mike has learned many of his campaign sensibilities from successful senior elected officials. If structured correctly, I think this program might have the potential to help hone the skills of the next generation of Democratic leaders.

If there is one lesson learned from the Trump phenomena, it is that people want to be heard; they do not want to be neglected; they do not want to be patronized. If you want their vote, people have to truly feel that they are cared about – even loved. If necessary, this literally has to be accomplished one person at a time. The best elected officials know this instinctively. At a recent Democratic dinner meeting Congressman Jared Huffman (D – San Rafael) was excited at the potential up and coming crop of new Democratic candidates.

I think this is a solid way of getting boots-on-the-ground in contested national, state and local districts to reintroduce the Democratic Party as the working man’s party, an image that got away from us in the 2016 election. So, fire up those burgers and LET’S DO IT!




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Mike McGuire – 100,000 Doors and Calls

Posted by on May 19, 2017

By Michael Haran


On the Saturday before the Super Bowl we all met at the Carpenter’s Hall on Lindaro Street in San Rafael. We were there, all 42 of us, volunteers to walk and talk and to introduce Marin voters to Mike McGuire who is running for the 2nd District State Senate. Mike is Sonoma County’s 4th District Supervisor and has this thing for knocking on doors.

First off he treated us to a continental breakfast of pastries and coffee and then we all gathered in the hall’s conference room for roll playing. Mike played himself and one of the experienced “walkers” played a homeowner. Mike’s campaign, uses a computer software program that identifies past voters, Democrat, Republican and “Decline to State” (independents), in a neighborhood.

McGuire Tailgate Walk 2014 004Mike uses a “one to five” system for homeowner response with “one” being “yes, I’m voting for you” to five being “they chased me away with a broom!” The more interesting simulation came from the “two,” “three” and “four” responders. The twos’ were “I like what I hear and I will definite consider voting for you;” the threes’ were “I like what I hear but at this point I’m undecided;” and the fours’ were mostly Republicans. Most Republicans in Marin, a very liberal district, are “moderate” Republicans and not the more extreme tea party types. For the most part they are informed and care about the issues.

Mike then went over the voter talking points. For being so young (he’s 34) Mike has quite impressive resume of accomplishments:

  • Mike united Sonoma County around a jobs plan that made Sonoma County first in California jobs growth;
  • He has made strategic Sonoma County budget decisions which have created a $10 million surplus;
  • Mike, at 19 years-old, was the youngest ever Healdsburg school board president and who built a coalition that helped improve and strengthen local schools in response to state budget cuts;
  • As vice-chair of the Eel-Russian River Commission, Mike has protected and preserved thousands of acres of open space and our pristine coast;
  • Mike is a Democrat who is a pro-jobs and pro-Economic Development and has always been endorsed by the Farm Bureau and the Business Groups in Sonoma County;
  • Mike has been endorsed by Congressman Jared Huffman, Congressman Mike Thompson, State Senator Noreen Evans, State Senator Mark Leno, Novato Mayor Eric Lucan former Assemblywoman Patty Berg, former opponent Chris Lehman, California League of Conservation Voters, as well as the majority of the Eureka City Council.

McGuire Tailgate Walk 2014 025We all then picked our tote bags which contained water, maps, voter lists, talking points, door hangers and pens. Mike then gave one of his patented “Now let’s all get out there…” pep talks which I think came from is time as Student Body President and Rally Commissioner at Healdsburg High School. Mike has a very ingratiating personality. He always has time to talk to someone. This is why people are attracted to him and why he has so many volunteers. His mom, Sherry, says he’s always been that way even as a little kid.

Everyone then scattered to their assigned neighborhoods some working alone others in teams. I went with Mike and his mother-in-law Carol Fremault (yes, it is all in the family) to a Terra Linda neighborhood. The homes there are Eichlers which were built in the 1950s and 60s. They were very futuristic for their time and most have been updated.  Mike and I took one side of the street and Carol took the other.

Mike knocked on the first door and no-one answered. He wrote a sorry I missed you note and left a door hanger. The next house had a “no solicitor” sign and so Mike again left a note and a door hanger. The third house was the charm. An older woman answer and Mike introduced himself with “Hi, I wanted to introduce myself I’m Mike McGuire and I’m running for 2nd District State Senator.” Mike handed her a door hanger and told her that she could read about his qualifications. She wanted to talk about senior healthcare and Mike got right into it talking about Medicare and what it has meant to the lives of California’s senior citizens. She thanked us and Mike thanked her – I think she was a “two.”

McGuire Tailgate Walk 2014 028 McGuire Tailgate Walk 2014 034The next person was a “four.” He kind of grumbled and took the campaign literature. The next lady was a campaign worker’s dream. She was so excited to listen to Mike and said that she was glad such a young person was running for office. She was a “one” as she said she was definitely voting for Mike.

After a few more “not homes” Mike knocked on Mark and Kay Woodburn’s door. Kay is a retired librarian and is involved in several non-profit organizations and even worked on a past San Rafael City councilman’s campaign. She was very up on the issues and talked to Mike about education and the environment. After we left I said they were definitely a “one” at which Mike surprised me by saying they were a” three.” He said I mistook their enthusiasm in talking to Mike as a commitment. Having talked to thousands of people, Mike new differently. I still think they’re a “one.”

We moved along knocking on doors and talking to people. Mike talked about pension reform, the drought and the projected state budget surplus. The reason Mike is so up on the issues is that he is a tireless reader getting up at four a.m. to start his day. I think it’s the farmer in him.

The most touching moment came when Mike knocked on a door and several small dogs started to yap. The door was answered by a Downs Syndrome young adult girl. Mike introduced himself and asked her what kind of dogs she had. She lit up talking about her dogs and Mike said that he has a pug. She said she loves pugs. Mike’s affection for animal is not forced as he grew up on a farm where he raised pigs, a turkey (called Gregory Peck), a “million” pigmy goats, 14 cats and four dogs.

She then asked Mike what he is doing to help handicapped people. Mike mentioned the handicap accessibility infrastructure that has been installed in Sonoma County since he has been supervisor and his support for “Mainstreaming” which is the practice of integrating students with special needs in regular classes. She then gave Mike a big hug. This is a trait of Downs’s kids and if we could all be like that the world would be a much more loving place.

Along the way Mike would texted entries to his Mike-for-Senate Facebook page to let everyone know about his morning activities – “Going the extra yard in San Rafael – Super Saturday is off and running! Over 40 are walking neighborhoods this morning (big thank you to all volunteers)!”

So the knocking and walking ended (we only had couple of “fives” and they were family dogs that weren’t too happy so see us walking up their driveways). Back at the Carpenter’s Hall, Mike’s wife Erika and her crew stayed behind to prepare a Super Bowl type BBQ “tailgate” party for the volunteers. Everyone turned in their numbers and over 3,000 doors were knocked on that day. Mike then gave out prizes for homes walked, the most successful volunteer recruiter and the best Super Saturday selfie! The prizes were an “I Like Mike” t-shirt; a Starbucks gift card; and a jar of peanut butter.  The peanut butter was so random but that’s one of the reason we all love Mike.

Mike’s co-campaign manager Chris Rogers said, “Today puts us over 25,000 doors (they have now knocked on over 60,000 doors) and there are still seven more weeks until the June 3th vote. We are moving ahead … right through till November 4th. Others may be saying the race is over, but Mike never takes anything for granted and will always work his hardest, right up until the end.”

With 1,075,000 people in the Seven County 2nd District, and 2.23 people per dwelling, Mike only has about 450,000 doors to knock on. Knowing this man he would knock on every one of them if he could but don’t be surprised if he reaches 100,000 knocks and call by June 3rd. So if you hear a knock at your door or a call on your phone, answer it, it just might be your next state senator.

Michael Haran is a freelance writer who lives in Healdsburg.

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A Town Treasure on a Bagette

Posted by on Jun 4, 2015

A Town Treasure on a Baguette


With all of this ebb and flow on the Seghesio project I thought I’d check in with one of the most respected local merchants in the community, Will Seppi, general manager of the family owned Costeaux French Bakery in downtown Healdsburg.

Seppi #2

Will Seppi

Costeaux has been around for some 92 years, first as the French American Bakery, which was owned by Octavia and Ricardo Cassaza. In 1927 the bakery was sold to J. Sarzotti and A. Viari who featured breads, panettone, pasties and grissini (breadsticks). They delivered twice a week to customers in Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys who would pay after the annual harvest.

From 1930 to 1971 the bakery had several different names and owners including Tom Alexander who changed the name to Alexander’s Modern Bakery. In 1959 the bakery was bought by Fred Loupi (still a Healdsburg resident), who changed the name to, what else, Fred’s Bakery. During Fred’s tenure there was a rumor around town of a bakery truck spinning “donuts” on the plaza lawn but Fred doesn’t know anything about that. In 1972, the bakery was bought by Jean and Annie Costeaux from Reims, France and gave the bakery its current name.

In 1981, the Seppi family bought the bakery and kept the name. Karl and Nancy often visited Nancy’s great aunt, Mary Zandrino, who lived on a ranch in west Dry Creek. It was Mary who knew the bakery was for sale and suggested that Karl and Nancy buy it. Karl, who was a golf pro, was taught how to bake bread by Jean Costeaux. Karl didn’t seem to have much of a handicap switching to the bakery business as Costeaux won the only gold medal for bread at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair that first year and they have been winning gold medals, and even national acclaim, ever since.

Seppi #4


After graduating from Villanova University and a stint in accounting for a Silicon Valley finance company Will took over the business full time in 2004. He and his three sisters (one of which, Karla, along with her husband Rob Lippincott own the popular Healdsburg Parish Cafe) grew up in Healdsburg where Will still lives with his wife Brandy and their three kids ages 3, 2, and 8 months. Under Will the company has kept growing. They now sell their wide assortment of baked good in not only Sonoma County but also in Mendocino, Napa, Marin and San Francisco. They produce from three to five thousand loaves of bread per day which can go to ten thousand or so with special events. Even though they now have over 85 employees (50/50 retail and production) you can still see Will delivering bread to places like Big Johns.

The bakery and restaurant on Healdsburg Avenue is a beautiful facility reminiscent of a French villa. With an eye on ecology Will recently put in solar panels and to save water he put in a brown colored wood floor instead of tile that needed to be mopped daily, also the crumbs blend in better. Their annual events including Bastille Day (the replica guillotine was made for them by Aristocrat Wood Products and Redwood Auto Body) and Christmas Eve celebrations are a lot of fun and Nancy’s spirited homemade eggnog is very popular. Their in house promotions include a December 24th “secret envelope” where you can win a gift certificate, complimentary bread, desserts or cookies and a “coffee coin” can get you a croissant, cookie or loaf of bread.

Seppi #6

Costeaux Interior

But it’s not the in-house promotions that define the Seppi family. When it comes to giving back to the community Will seems to be everywhere. Each year the bakery donates money and products to an astounding 500 community events including Northern County Services, the Healdsburg Senior Center’s Christmas dinner, Redwood Gospel Missions Great Thanksgiving Banquet, FFA and more. They contribute to the KZST Secret Santa Christmas gift program; the Algebra Academy and internship programs at Healdsburg area schools and have sponsored family ESL literacy programs for their employees. And the list goes on and on. The Seppis’ may not be the Triones’ but their philanthropic mind-set sure is.

Seppi #3

Costeaux Solar Installation

So what’s Wills’ take on the Seghesio project? He says that Pete Seghesio, like Will grew up in Healdsburg, and loves the town and community and can understand why Pete was a little shocked at any negative reaction to the project. The business will generate jobs and tax revenue and if the meat market does well it will become a popular local venue not unlike Costeaux. As far as the upscale restaurant goes most locals, even though most couldn’t or wouldn’t spend that kind of money on a restaurant meal, thought it was fun having Cyrus’ in town. It’s like the downtown wine tasting rooms; if there is a demand they will stay in business, if not they’re gone.

But one thing is for sure, the Seghesio have and will give back to the community and, like the Seppis’ they are part of the fabric of the Healdsburg community.





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Onward and Upward

Posted by on Mar 5, 2015

February 2, 2015

Kerrie at Mike McGuire’s Swearing in

I don’t know if the announcement of Kerrie Lindecker leaving Sonoma West and the Healdsburg Tribune was more shocking to me or more sad. Kerrie is has been the managing editor for over ten years and it never crossed my mind that she would ever leave. Then again she is such a smart and articulate person that I should have realize that someday a quality opportunity would present itself to her.

I had always wanted to try my hand at being a newspaper columnist but knowing the commitment the profession takes I have just too many other interest to make that work so I through I would try commentary because writing commentary is on the writers time frame and not the publication. So I submitted a letter to the editor about a little Christmas tree that would occasionally light up a local vineyard and low and behold Kerrie published it. This was the first time I ever had anything published in a newspaper.

Kerrie & Ryan

Kerrie and Ryan’s Wedding

From there I went on to writing commentary and Kerrie helped me learn the techniques of developing an interesting story in 800 words or less. I have since written over fifty published commentaries which I archive in my writers blog at

I know that over the years many of us in the community have developed our own unique relationships with Karrie. For example, that’s how she got her new position with State Senator Mike McGuire who she has known since his days on the HUSD school board. The following is one of my stories about Kerrie and is from the “Legends and Lies” section of a booklet I wrote on the history of fishing the Healdsburg and Russian River watershed for the Healdsburg Museum:


Making a Deadline

Ryan Lindecker

Ryan Landing the steelhead

“One of the joys of living in a small town is that many of the editorials in the local newspaper, stories that would never be allowed in a metropolitan newspaper, are about the interests of the people who work at the paper. A case in point is Healdsburg Tribune’s editor, Kerrie Russell, who often writes about not only her fishing exploits in and around Healdsburg but also her upcoming marriage into a local family of steelhead fishermen. Needing a little more on the feminine side of steelhead fishing, Kerrie was interviewed for this story. It turns out that Kerrie had never caught a steelhead on the Russian River. To propose to her, her fiancé took her to the Smith River where she did catch a steelhead, but still never had on the Russian River. She was informed that this interview was for the upcoming booklet by the Healdsburg Museum for the town’s upcoming steelhead festival and that the deadline for its completion was about a week away. It is not known whether it was Kerrie’s response to a self-induced challenge, or if she is just hardwired to meet a deadline, but she wanted to catch a Russian River steelhead before this booklet had to be completed. Well, lo and behold, a phone call was received that she had, in fact, caught a steelhead while fishing on the river with her fiancé up near Cloverdale. She said that it was a 10 pound wild “buck” that had to be released. She also said that for proof she took photos, but even without photos it would be totally implausible not to believe a member of the press – right?”

Because she will be working out of McGuire’s Santa Rosa office, she says, “I’m not going anywhere,” I’m still going to miss her at the Tribune for my own selfish reasons. When I asked Jim Wood if he had heard the news about Kerrie he replied that Mike McGuire’s a lucky man. So maybe this transition isn’t sad but rather something that should be celebrated as Kerrie moves onward and upward.

Michael Haran Is a Healdsburg resident

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A Reflective Legislator

Posted by on Jan 27, 2015

Healdsburg Tribune  1/22/2015

Dr. Jim Wood doesn’t seem like a person who would pursue higher office because he’s not. When asked when he first wanted to go after a second career in politics he replied that he never did and that it’s just one of those things in a person’s life that happens – that it just evolved organically. As he takes his seat he is one of the state’s 28 new members of California’s Assembly.

Jim Wood #3

Assemblyman Jim Wood

Jim, who has two brothers, grew up in Orange County and got his degree in biology from U. C. Riverside where he met his wife, Jane. They got married during Jim’s first year of dental school in Loma Linda. Jim’s first practice was in Modesto but he and Jane would visit Sonoma County and they fell in love with the place. In 1987, he put out some feelers and found a dental practice to buy in Cloverdale which Jane managed the entire time they owned the practice. Jim, 54, moved to Healdsburg in 1989, has been married for 31 years, and has one son, Alex, who is a freshman at the University of Santa Clara. He and Jane sold the Cloverdale dental practice in 2013.

Jim’ first foray into politics was on the Cloverdale General Plan Advisory Committee in 1991. In 2002 he served on the Healdsburg Planning Commission and was first elected to the Healdsburg City Council in 2006. As Jim got deeper and deeper into public service he found that he not only liked the challenge of finding solutions to complex problems but also the interaction with the diverse groups of people which comprise local communities. His ability to both reflect on an issue and at the same time concerning himself with the well-being of people probably comes from years of looking into a patient’s mouth to solve a problem. As a dentist, he said, you can’t choose who will walk into your office.

Jim Wood #4

Jim Wood and Family

The 2nd Assembly district is nested within the 2nd Senate district but is still one of the largest districts in the state. Extending from the middle of Santa Rosa to the Oregon border the area includes the north half of Sonoma County and all of Mendocino, Humboldt, Trinity and Del Norte counties. With about 480,000 people in his district it’s about half the size of Mike McGuire’s Senate district.

Jim sees the biggest challenges (he doesn’t like to call it an agenda) in his district as employment, water, healthcare, education and the environment. Even if the state isn’t going into a historically prolonged drought north coast water management is now seen as a high priority. Jim sees storage and conservation as his prime focal points and not sending more nor-Cal water to southern California at the expense of our fisheries, our fishing industry and agriculture. Accordingly, one of his first appointments was as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Fisheries and Aquaculture. He is also on the Natural Resources Standing Committee.

Jim Wood #2

California Dental Association

Employment and education are linked in that with the collapse of the logging industry people have to be retrained to work in other industries. To that end the community colleges need to be strengthened to offer more vocational and internet generating careers which is why getting broadband into every nook and cranny of his district is one of his highest priorities. With the Emerald Triangle being smack in the middle of his district the marijuana industry is being looked at closely. Its legalization could bring jobs but that has to be weighed against the damage its cultivation is doing to the environment, the outdoor recreation industries and the adolescent healthcare issues that come with it. But he says nothing substantial is going to happen one way or the other until the feds make a firm decision on the issue.

As the only professional healthcare provider in the Assembly, Jim is especially focused on strengthening healthcare in his district’s many rural communities and, as such, was appointed to the Health Committee. He is also on the Business and Professions Committee because of his experience as a small businesses owner in a regulated industry.  He learned the state legislative and political process while working with the California Dental Association in Sacramento.

He feels that the district’s hospitals will have to adopt the Healdsburg Community Hospital’s model of specialization, like stroke care or joint replacement, in association with other facilities like the U.C. Davis Med Center. He also thinks that Obamacare has been reasonably successful but containing costs is still a big challenge and it will probably take ten years until the program is fully effective. It’s ironic that Jim expects to work closely with the Assembly’s Black and Latino caucuses because a lot of rural community issues, such as healthcare and education, are similar to those in the inner cities.

Although they are both highly intelligent and effective Mike McGuire’s personality is more a “force of nature” whereas Jim’s personality seems more contemplative and reflective which is probably comes from his medical training. Whatever, they both are dedicated, have a proven tract recorded of successfully working together and Healdsburg should be proud that we have them and that they are working for us on the bigger picture.

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