Two write-in candidates — Jeff Walters and Stephen Kniffen — are in the hunt for two seats on the Cambria Community Services District Board of Directors. The men launched their campaigns during a recent candidates’ forum.
Walters, 49, has been a certified massage therapist for 30 years, and works as a caregiver for Cherish House. He was born in Whittier, and studied anthropology at Pasadena City College. He and his wife, Reiki master/instructor Jessica Miller, live with his mother, Marcia Walters, and grandmother, Audrey Hibble.
Walters said in a recent phone interview that while his hobbies include photography, acting (he played 11 parts in “A Tuna Christmas” at the Pewter Plough Playhouse), hiking and enjoying wilderness areas, he’s also a political activist who is “trying to get more active because I think I can make a difference for people.”
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He said he feels he has “worthwhile plans and solutions to situations and crises we face with our politics and policies.” Many of those solutions include more efficient use of various technologies, he said.
Walters says he’s a middle-of-the-road candidate. “I want to preserve our wilderness with a sense of the local community doing well. A healthy economy makes for a healthy ecology. Both can and should work together. Impoverished areas affect their environment.”
He is opposed to fracking, and has encouraged local and county agencies to develop anti-fracking policies.
Kniffen declined to be interviewed for this article, saying that doing so would be an aspect of politics that he considers to be “so ego driven, and that is not what this thing is about for me … I don’t need people to see me in a ‘dirty politician’ kind of way.”
Kniffen manages the Sea Chest Oyster Bar restaurant, chairs Cambria’s Parks Recreation and Open Space Commission and is an active member of the Sons of American Legion Post No. 432. He was raised in Cambria and was taught in middle school by his father Mark Kniffen, who retired in 2012. Steve Kniffen attended Cuesta College and Cal Poly. He and his wife, Lorie, have two children at Coast Union High School.
When Steve Kniffen ran for both boards in 2012, he said he felt the current election system, based on politics and fundraising, needs to be revamped.
Kniffen said then, “I’m making myself available to serve” on the Cambria Community Services District and Coast Unified School District boards, but “I’m not running for office,” he said. He’s not a politician, he explained, and doesn’t want to be one. “I think people who want to be in politics are not necessarily the people who should be running the country.”
Kniffen knows the turf. When he ran for the services-district board in 1989, he thoroughly detested the entire process. For him, it’s all about serving his community and his country. “I’ve never served in a foxhole,” he said, “but I feel a huge obligation to serve my country.”
As he said at the forum, “The system of government is broken. System of election is broken. We need a different approach. … I want you to open your mind and see that my approach has some validity.”
According to county Election Division records, Walters formally declared his write-in candidacy Oct. 3. Kniffen had done so Sept. 10, also declaring himself to be a write-in candidate for the Coast Unified School District Board of Trustees. Kniffen ran as a write-in candidate for both boards in 2012, sought a services district post appointment to fill a board vacancy in March 2008, and ran for the office in 1989.
Voters who want to cast ballots for Kniffen or Walters will have to write the name on the appropriate blank on the ballot and fill in the oval beside that line.
Each write-in candidate must meet all the other requirements of a registered candidate, such as having to file financial records if he raises more than $1,000 in campaign funds.
Write-in votes are cast in nearly every election. Some voters have historically used the opportunity to cast protest votes for such noncandidates as Mickey Mouse.
People can continue to sign up as write-in candidates through Oct. 21.