Fabio Marchi is not your typical politician; in fact, he's not much of a politician at all, and he's the first one to say it.
In June, Marchi, a 48-year-old North County general contractor and real estate broker born and raised in Buenos Aires, Argentina, announced his candidacy for the 5th district county supervisor position currently occupied by four-term supervisor, Bill Horn.
"I drive my helpers crazy because they tell me to watch what I say, but I don't care what is politically correct," says Marchi in a thick Spanish accent during a July 30 interview. "I don't have to hide who I am."
Hiding who he is seems like an impossible task. During our interview, Marchi was blunt and passionate as he explained his reasoning behind running for one of the most powerful political positions in the region, less than a decade after becoming a U.S. citizen.
Referring to the county board as a "bunch of demagogues," Marchi's political platform opposes most everything supervisor Horn stands for.
He is opposed to the county's suit over the legality of medical marijuana; he wants to make it easier for qualified people to enroll in social welfare programs; he opposes discretionary funds, which he says are the equivalent of political slush funds, and most importantly, Marchi wants to establish term limits for the board of supervisors.
"They have no term limit, so they could be running the county until they have an IV and somebody pumping oxygen into them," says Marchi. "No offense to 70-year-olds, but the average age of the [board of supervisors] is 70. We need something new.
"They don't want to lose their position," continues Marchi. "They call themselves the 'honorable members of the board'; don't give me that honorable title. How dare you? I'm paying...we are all paying for their job."
Always an underdog, Marchi is setting aside his contractor business to devote all of his time to the campaign.
He'll need it. In addition to having Horn as an opponent, last month Vista councilmember Steve Gronke announced that he too plans to run for the supervisor position.
For Marchi, in a race where money and political endorsements matter most, there is a lot of work to do. So far he has spent only a hundred dollars on his campaign, while his opponent Bill Horn has raised more than $50,000.
"Nothing has ever been easy for me. Nothing you want in life should be easy," says Marchi, who hopes to overcome the disparities in campaign resources by organizing a grass-roots movement. He is out recruiting Latinos and other minority groups who he believes feel "disenfranchised by a disconnected county leadership."
He does so at monthly meetings of the Latino-American Democratic Club, a group he founded, where Latinos can meet, register to vote, and discuss local political issues. During the past year alone, the organization has grown to a membership of more than 100 people.
"In my district, 90,000 Latinos are registered to vote, but only 10 percent actually vote," says Marchi. "I'm telling them, 'Hey, you are complaining about immigration, you are complaining about all of these other issues, then it's time for you guys to step up and do something about it."
And while he plans future meetings and looks to recruit new voters, Marchi is learning how to survive in the tough world of politics. As he leans across the table during our interview, he smiles and says: "Everybody is always making fun of my broken accent, but a broken accent doesn't mean broken mind."