Approximately 150 Tea Party supporters from around the San Gabriel Valley flocked to Pasadena on Wednesday to meet Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn), who has recently amped up efforts to revive her stalling presidential campaign.
Most attendees said they came to the historic Castle Green Hotel in Old Town because they haven't decided on a presidential candidate to support in the 2012 election and wanted to hear what Bachmann has to offer. Others expressed their anger over the political change the August redraw of voting districts brought to the San Gabriel Valley.
The event was part of a series of town hall meetings put on by TeaPAC, a Tea Party-affiliated organization that promotes citizen involvement in politics. The group recently featured presidential candidate Newt Gingrich as part of its town hall series.
"Michele Bachmann is probably the single most honest candidate in this election," said Arcadia resident Joan Oakes.
Marcy Guzman of South Pasadena said she hopes a Tea Party candidate makes it to the White House but doesn't put much stock in how much change a president can actually effect. Real change, she says, starts at the local level, when citizens care enough to better their communities.
"We're not having a crisis of leadership, we're having a crisis of citizenship," Guzman said, adding that a Tea Party president could help restore Americans' pride in their country and local communities.
Arcadia resident Wayne Saunders also said he believes the power of local government cannot be underestimated. That's why he signed a petition circulating at the Bachmann event to appeal the new state Senate, Assembly and Congressional districts drawn by the California Citizens Redistricting Committee.
Under the new map, with Temple City and 49th District cities San Marino, Alhambra, San Gabriel, Rosemead and Monterey Park. The new district also includes El Monte and South El Monte. The final state senate district maps lumps Arcadia in with cities such as Baldwin Park, West Covina, Covina, La Puente and Azusa.
Saunders said the new districts, which heavily favor the Democratic party, would drown out his vote and those of like-minded voters.
"They've disenfranchised us," he said of the Citizens' Redistricting Committee. "It's like we have no voice."
But, Saunders, like the others, also came to hear Bachmann.
In her speech, the presidential hopeful vowed to work to make President Barack Obama a one-term president and talked up the need to reduce the national debt as well as tighten up our borders.
When asked about fellow candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 plan — which would introduce a flat 9.1 percent tax on individuals, businesses and sales transactions — Bachmann said she only has one plan in mind.
"My plan is the 'real jobs, right now' plan," she said, adding the primary issue for the 2012 race "will be jobs and the economy. That's what people care about."
Sierra Madre resident Chris Koerber said he has high hopes for 2012, but the road to a Tea Party presidency is far from over.
"We've got a long way to go," he said.