One Coronado City Council candidate and three CUSD school board candidates were listed in a voter guide published by the RMNNT, the political arm of the Awaken Church, a mega-church with five San Diego locations. According to the organization’s website, the RMNNT hopes to “take back San Diego” and to “raise up an army to effectively influence local politics.“
John Duncan, City Council Candidate and CUSD school board candidates, Gerri Machin and Scot Youngblood, were listed in the RMNNT voter’s guide and have confirmed to The Coronado Times, they are not affiliated with the RMNNT organization, have not sought out their support and have asked to be removed from the voter guide. Full statements from Duncan, Machin and Youngblood are included below in this article.
In the guide, there is small print in the lower left corner on the first page that says: “This guide is for educational purposes only to educate the public on candidates that hold conservative values. This is not an official endorsement of these candidates.” See the full RMNNT voter guide here.
Larger screenshot of the RMMNT voter guide showing Coronado candidates:
CUSD School Board Candidate Lisa Meglioli was highlighted in the RMNNT voter guide as having attended RMNNT “candidate trainings” as well as the Awaken Church. Meglioli has not responded back to a request for comment from The Coronado Times.
According to the website, the RMNNT is named such because “America is either on the brink of destruction or greatness. It will take a remnant to save her.” Often calling themselves “warriors of liberty,” the RMNNT promotes a video on its homepage, showing men and women armed with semiautomatic weapons, a crossbow and arrows, as well as sharpened hunting knives. According to KPBS News, the RMNNT is affiliated with and hosted by Awaken, the “controversial San Diego church known for spreading pandemic misinformation.” In an article by the Voice of San Diego, Awaken, like the RMNNT, has referenced pandemic conspiracy theories, shared anti-gay social media posts, and pro-insurrection messaging. RMNNT video:
According to Voice of San Diego, the RMNNT has been visited by high-profile regional politicians like County Supervisor Jim Desmond and Awaken Church Pastor Jurgen Matthesius. Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey has also attended at least one RMNNT meeting, and is credited with influencing the political aspirations of organization leader Alana Sorensen, who has secured a place on the Central Committee of the Republican Party of San Diego County.
Mayor Bailey said in a social media post that he did in fact provide a 30 minute candidate training to RMNNT.
“I provided a 30 minute overview of the information contained in the SD Registrar of voters website about the process for becoming a candidate and how to open a committee,” said Bailey. “This training was open to the public and members of various political parties attended. It was the same talk I’ve given a dozen times to other groups and individuals, including candidates of both parties running for school board.”
Out of the four Coronado candidates listed in the RMNNT’s voter guide, three responded to emails from The Coronado Times for comment.
City Council candidate John Duncan said he was “100% unaware” of the voter guide. He said he had never met with this group, nor any group representative. Duncan also shared a screenshot of a RMNNT website form (see image below), where he asked to be removed from the voter guide.
“I have never spoken to nor communicated in any fashion with this group including by email, text or phone,” said Duncan by email in a statement sent to The Coronado Times last week. “I have never been to any of their facilities nor do I know where they are located or anything about the group. I have no idea if anyone in Coronado is related to the group as no one has ever even mentioned them to me. To be clear, I 100% did not seek or know of this voter guide. The same is also true of the Awaken church. Zero direct or indirect contact with me.”
Duncan went on to say, “I do not know the positions of these groups. However, if they or any other groups advocate prejudice or discrimination against anyone based on religious beliefs, race or sexual orientation, or if they advocate armed insurrection, I wholeheartedly repudiate those beliefs, as my beliefs are the opposite.”
Scot Youngblood, CUSD School Board Candidate, also sent a statement to The Coronado Times, sharing that since filing his candidacy for School Board, he has been inundated by solicitations to be endorsed or placed on a voter guide by over a dozen organizations, usually for a fee.
“Two days ago, I was informed by a local reporter that I was on the voter guide for a group called RMNNT,” wrote Youngblood. “I have never met or spoken with any representative of this group, solicited an endorsement, or actually even heard of this organization. Thus, I politely declined their endorsement and/or my placement on their voter guide.”
Youngblood went on to say, “As when I served a career in the US Navy, I remain committed to supporting and defending the Constitution and the freedoms of all Americans, to include religious liberty, freedom of speech, and the right for any citizen to be involved in the political process. I hope that any individual voter reviews my platform and public statements, and decides for themselves whether they agree with my positions and advocacy to improve public education in Coronado www.Youngblood4Coronado.com.”
Gerri Machin, CUSD School Board Candidate also sent a statement to The Coronado Times asserting that, like the others, she had not heard of the organization, nor did she seek their endorsement.
“I never received a request from them to print my name or put it on their website,” wrote Machin. “After watching their promotion video with images of an armed man and woman, I now understand your reason for asking me. You are likely troubled as I am by those images given the recent school violence in Uvalde, Texas. I will continue to try to contact them to remove my name.”
The Coronado Times reached out to CUSD school board candidate Lisa Meglioli for comment on her candidate training, but has not heard back. Meglioli did not attend the PTO candidate forum or the forum held by the Coronado Democratic Club, but did attend the Coronado Rotary forum on 9-28-22. At the 21:50 mark in the video recording, Lisa shares that she is the mother of five children and has a personal interest in the academic education of our schools in the community.
“I’m a parent, I have no political interest or agenda, I’m simply a concerned mom for the well-being of our children,” said Meglioli at the forum. “During these past few challenging years, I have become more aware and informed of everything that was happening in our educational system and it really struck a chord with me, so I decided to run for Coronado Unified School Board. I have come to understand that today, it’s critical for us parents and grandparents to get involved more than ever in their education.”
Official Candidate Websites Listed Below:
- John Duncan – City Council Candidate
- Gerri Machin – School Board Candidate
- Lisa Meglioli – School Board Candidate
- Scot Youngblood – School Board Candidate
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on October 22, 2022 with comments from Coronado Mayor Richard Bailey.