Fairgrounds board president disses, questions San Diego elected city officials who support gun shows at fairgrounds

San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a Santee-based political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, recently demonstrated countywide appeal for the Crossroads of the West gun show, attended by tens of thousands of Southern California residents at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, with a stack of 30 letters written by local elected city officials expressing support for the gun show.

The letters, written by several city mayors and members of local city councils, were submitted at the Aug. 14 meeting of the nine-member 22nd District Agricultural Association board of directors, who oversee activities at the state-owned fairgrounds. The fairgrounds board has scheduled an agenda item to discuss future contracts with the gun show operator at its Sept. 11 meeting.

Now, in a surprising move, Steve Shewmaker, the president of the fairgrounds board, has written his own letter to each of the elected city officials questioning their support of the gun shows.

“I am in receipt of your letter…and want to verify that the position you have taken in your letter regarding gun shows at the Del Fair Fairgrounds reflects your personal views and not those of the city as a whole,” wrote Shewmaker in his letter to the elected city officials. “There is no clear indication in your letter, which was on city letterhead, supporting this statement (supporting gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds), nor do we have a resolution on file from your city in support of gun shows at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.”

SDCGO executive director Michael Schwartz, in a reply to the local elected city officials who submitted letters, said, “Shewmaker is attempting to portray the letters you sent on behalf of your constituents as meaningless. He is trying to clear away all resistance to his personal political agenda of ending the gun show rather (than) be the responsible fiduciary the public expects. Now he is trying to denigrate your voters and constituents who support and attend the gun show at the regional fairgrounds in Del Mar while purposely spreading misinformation.”

The letters, addressed to the fairgrounds board, were from several city mayors, including Bill Wells of El Cajon, Sam Abed of Escondido, Peter Weiss of Oceanside, Jim Desmond of San Marcos and Richard Bailey of Coronado. Additional letters were from members of local city councils throughout San Diego County, including Rob McNelis of Santee, Kristine Alessio of La Mesa, Matt Mendoza of Lemon Grove, John Masson and Mike Morasco of Escondido, Jerome Kern and Jack Feller of Oceanside, Kristal Jabara of San Marcos, Mike Diaz of Chula Vista, Chris Cate of San Diego, John Mullin of Poway and John Aguilera, Amanda Young Rigby and John Franklin of Vista.

Schwartz said Shewmaker’s dismissal of letters is an attempt to misrepresent the positions of San Diego-area elected city officials. “Shewmaker is lying and he knows it,” said Schwartz.

At the Aug. 14 meeting, SDCGO member Wendy Hauffen submitted the letters to the fairgrounds board, whose members are appointed by the governor. “These letters also show that elected officials from across the county agree that the fairgrounds is a regional, state-owned asset and the city of Del Mar should not dictate to you how the fairgrounds should be used,” Hauffen said. In March of this year, the Del Mar city council approved a resolution calling for the fairgrounds directors to end the popular gun show.

Schwartz said the Shewmaker was “enormously rude and condescending when he snapped at Wendy” on Aug. 14.

The gun show has been held at the state-owned fairgrounds five times a year for the past 29 years.

Among the comments in the letters from elected city officials:

— “The fairgrounds are a state-owned regional asset, which means that the facilities are there to serve all residents of San Diego County,” wrote Bill Wells, mayor of El Cajon.

— “No city or group should be able to dictate what goes on at the fairgrounds. The fairgrounds are for people from all over San Diego County to enjoy and use,” wrote Mike Diaz, deputy mayor of Chula Vista.

— “In today’s social media-driven world, more people are given platforms by which to case disparaging remarks about an organization or a show that they don’t even truly know about or have never attended. I see this happening a lot with regards to the Crossroads of the West gun show,” wrote Rob McNelis, vice mayor of Santee.

— “Many District 6 residents, along with thousands of San Diegans, have expressed interest in continued patronage of the Crossroads of the West show. The Del Mar Fairgrounds provides a convenient and sizeable location that allows the Crossroads of the West to host nearly 100 businesses, many of which are located in San Diego,” wrote Chris Cate, San Diego city councilman, 6th district.

— “I represent thousands of constituents in my city who attend the gun show at the fairgrounds in Del Mar. It is an important part of San Diego’s history and culture.” wrote Mike Diaz, deputy mayor of Chula Vista.

— “As a responsible gun owner myself, I can attest to the commitment of people like myself to gun safety. Problems with gun violence are not made better, and are arguably made worse, by limiting access to guns by responsible citizens,” wrote John Mullin, deputy mayor of Poway.

— “Thousands of San Diego County residents, including my constituents, attend and enjoy the gun show every time it is in town. It is an important part of San Diego’s history and culture,” wrote Sam Abed, mayor of Escondido.

— “As your mission statement says, the fairgrounds is a `public assembly facility’ providing a wide range of activities and events `for the benefit of all’ San Diego County residents. I submit that no one city has the power to summarily dictate the use of this facility,” wrote council member Amanda Young Rigby of Vista.

— “I have been to the show several times over the years and found it to be very educational and information as to the ever-changing rules and regulations that are enacted by our state and federal governments,” wrote council member Jerome Kern of Oceanside.

Founded in 2015, the San Diego County Gun Owners is a registered political action committee (FPPC ID #1379388) and advocacy organization focused on organizing the gun industry and community and protecting the U.S. Constitution’s Second Amendment right to bear arms. With a membership exceeding 1,000 individuals, the PAC provides news and information on new gun laws and Second Amendment advocacy. Its sponsored events include gun safety classes, small gun shows, sporting clay shoots, social gatherings and pistol, rifle and shotgun experiences taught by professional instructors. For more information, visit www.sandiegocountygunowners.com.