In the wake of the deaths of children and thoroughbred race horses at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, as well as violence at a rap artist’s concert and a federal judge’s injunction on the violation of San Diegans’ First Amendment rights, the San Diego County Gun Owners (SDCGO), a political action committee promoting Second Amendment rights, is calling for the resignation and replacement of all members of the Del Mar Fairgrounds board of directors.
“The time is up for asking how the board will fix their many problems. Instead, it is time for a new board,” said Michael Schwartz, SDCGO executive director. “San Diego County Gun Owners is calling on Gov. Gavin Newsom to replace every member of the Board of Directors of the 22nd District Agricultural Association for the safety and welfare of our community.
The nine-member fairgrounds board, officially known as the 22nd District Agricultural Association, is appointed by the state governor to oversee activities at the state-owned fairgrounds. The appointments do not require Senate confirmation and most members have personal ties to Sacramento politicians.
In recent months, the fairgrounds property has become the site of several, high-profile controversies that has included a decision last September to not allow guns at future Crossroads of the West gun shows. The vote by the fairgrounds board was held despite SDCGO’s submission of 3,000 letters in support of continuing the popular gun shows. Later, it was revealed that fairgrounds board members held personal biases against gun ownership based on their past political contributions to anti-Second Amendment candidates and initiatives.
Then, in June of this year, a federal judge ruled the fairgrounds board would likely lose a lawsuit over their anti gun-show vote and issued a preliminary injunction that ordered dates be reserved for future gun shows to B&L Productions, Inc., operators of the popular Crossroads of the West Gun Show. The two-day gun show has been held at the publicly-owned fairgrounds five times a year for the past 30 years.
“Crossroads had 150 gun show events over 30 years with an impeccable safety and legal record,” said Schwartz. “However, for political reasons, the gun shows were banned by the fairgrounds board. We were pleased when a judge slapped an injunction on the board due to their First Amendment violations. The board’s political activism in place of their fiduciary responsibilities has led to their incompetence and it has turned dangerous and deadly for fairgrounds visitors.”
Other controversies have included more than two dozen horse deaths during the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club racing season, as well as the recent death of a two-year-old boy who was diagnosed with the E. coli toxin after contact with animals at the San Diego County Fair. In addition, at an Ice Cube concert in September 2018, a man fired a gun into a crowd after being told at a fairgrounds ticket booth the concert was sold out.
“There’s no way the governor can allow this situation to continue at the fairgrounds,” said Schwartz. “We believe the first action of a newly appointed board should be to re-visit the contract of Tim Fennell. All of this happened and continues to happen on his watch.”
Fennell, CEO and general manager, has worked at the 22nd District Agricultural Association since 1993. State records show he is one of the highest paid fair executives in the state with a total annual compensation package nearing $200,000.
“The Agricultural Board’s inability to keep people safe has resulted in the voters of San Diego losing faith in their ability to do the job they were appointed to do. It is time for all board members to resign immediately. It is impossible for anyone to have confidence in their ability. Their conduct is unacceptable. It’s time for all of them to go, for the good of the community,” said Schwartz.
Schwartz said he has the support of many elected officials throughout San Diego County and is expecting mounting calls for the board’s resignation.
“I have already spoken to a number of elected officials about what’s going on with the ineptitude of the fairgrounds board and I look forward to a broad coalition weighing in on the necessary changes that need to happen,” he said.
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 1,300 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.