IFAS | Freedom Writer | March 1996 | profile.html

A CTIVIST P ROFILE
Kathy Frasca

Kathy Frasca, 48, is married and the mother of a 16-year-old boy in public high school, and a 21-year-old daughter in the army. While she enjoys her role as a homemaker, Kathy finds time for other rewarding activities. She works as a bookkeeper for her husband's roofing business and volunteers for a wildlife rehabilitation organization caring for injured birds and animals.

Since 1992, Kathy has served as a school committee member of Jamul/Duzura School District, a small district in rural, eastern San Diego County, California.

Kathy first became an activist ten years ago when her daughter was in elementary school. Some parents affiliated with the Institute for Creation Research attacked the school's curriculum, textbooks, and library books. That attack served as a wake-up call for Kathy to become involved in preserving public education.

Then, in 1990, Kathy joined a community planning group's advisory board on land use in San Diego County. That involvement exposed her to politics on a county-wide basis.

"All of a sudden," she said, "there were a bunch of candidates who seemed to know nothing about the issues; they were all using similar terminology." Through reading the newspapers and talking to friends, she noticed the same phenomenon in other communities.

Only a year before, the Rev. Pat Robertson's Christian Coalition had formed in Virginia out of the ashes of his failed 1988 bid for the Republican presidential nomination. However, in San Diego County the Christian Coalition had not yet made inroads. Nevertheless, local fundamentalist church-goers began to organize.

Before anyone caught on, a whole slate of "pro-family" candidates were running for school boards, city councils, water district boards, and planning boards. In fact, about 100 conservative churches put forward 90 candidates for various offices.

Using Christian phone banks, and leafletting car windshields on the Sunday before the Tuesday elections, the churches mobilized their voting troops. When the smoke cleared, 60 of the 90 candidates were successful.

General voter apathy and an anti-incumbent mood helped the conservatives achieve their victory. That election also helped popularize the term "stealth candidate," because, by-and-large, the public had no idea who these candidates were. They didn't campaign; they used the church networks to get elected.

After that election, Kathy and some of her acquaintances, including Rita Collier and Marjorie Van Nuis, started a non-partisan group called the Mainstream Voter's Project (MVP) to fight political extremism. They took the position that "informed voters will reject candidates with extremist political agendas."

MVP has served as a model for other groups across the nation. Now, in countless communities, citizens are joining together to fight the Radical Religious Right.

MVP serves to educate voters about candidates and elected officials who try to hide their real agenda. These hidden agendas are usually of a right-wing extremist nature, and are exposed through publishing a newsletter called The Bulletin, press releases, presentations to groups, and networking.

Frasca obtains her information through networking with other activists and organizations, scrutinizing campaign contributor lists and candidates' statements, reading many newspapers, attending meetings of the opposition, and regularly browsing the Internet.

While MVP mostly focuses on candidates in San Diego County, their reach sometimes goes across the country. MVP is especially concerned about attacks on public education.

While many of Frasca's successes are accomplished behind the scenes, she knows that MVP has produced more informed voters and has had an impact at the ballot box. The media not only in San Diego but across the country, has responded enthusiastically to information supplied by the Mainstream Voter's Project.

Many credit MVP for Religious Right radical Steve Baldwin's defeat in the 1992 California assembly race. In 1992, only a third of the Radical Religious Right candidates were successful.

Kathy has been a persistent worker for our First Amendment freedoms. In 1993, Americans United for Separation of Church and State awarded her its distinguished Religious Liberty Award for her work in "defense of non-sectarian public education and church/state separation." Today, Kathy serves as chair for that group's chapter in San Diego County.

In spite of her perseverance, Kathy admits, "I get discouraged a lot."

"One of the things that keeps me going is my children. I don't want any of their freedoms taken away from them. I'm concerned about my daughter, that she might grow up in a society resembling The Handmaiden's Tale."

Kathy relies upon her sense of humor when the going gets tough. "Also," she said, "be persistent; realize that there a lot more out there who think like you do. You are not alone."

"Additionally," she advises activists, "keep up your contacts with others, keep networking. Read as much as you can about the subject. Read newspapers, books, and the opposition's material."

"And, don't be too quick to label people you don't agree with. It's important to realize that there are caring people who don't agree with you, that they have the same concerns you have."

"We can win," Kathy said, "by not giving up, and educating the public. Truth will prevail."

Contact Mainstream Voters Project at PO Box 19966, San Diego, CA 92159, or by phone (619) 464-4417. Email: teal1@aol.com.

© 1998 Institute for First Amendment Studies, Inc.