There's only one plank in David Rizzo's campaign platform, but it's got a lot of lanes. Rizzo wants to build a freeway through the Cleveland National Forest—the only way he can see to take the load off the 91 freeway in Corona and the I-5 in southern Orange County.
"Something's gotta give," says Rizzo, "and I'm afraid it might have to be a bobcat or two."
Rizzo is a Republican running for the 44th congressional district seat currently occupied by Ken Calvert. The 44th sweeps from Riverside, through Fullerton, around toward San Clemente—pretty much along the freeways that Rizzo's only campaign promise intends to unclog.
"I specifically picked out the district with the toughest traffic corridor," says Rizzo, adding that his Fullerton home "just happens" to be in the 44th. "Turns out you don't have to live in a district to represent it in Congress. Until recently, I didn't even know that."
This is Rizzo's first run for public office. Maybe you remember him from the nickname he gave himself years ago—Dr. Roadmap. Rizzo used that shtick while writing traffic-related columns for various small Southern California newspapers. During one stretch, he had drive-time gigs on radio and TV stations in which he provided alternate routes to avoid the day's worst traffic jams. A couple of years ago, he even came out with a board game. Ring a bell? Didn't think so.
"I've met more than 10,000 voters going door-to-door on my campaign, and very few people remember Dr. Roadmap," says Rizzo, unfazed. "But everybody is concerned about traffic. It's our biggest issue. More people care about traffic than Iraq or taxes."
Rizzo says he's got opinions on those things, too, but he doesn't want to dilute his message.
"Imagine a member of Congress with only one primary agenda: to improve the mobility of the people who live in that congressional district," he says. "That would be me."
It would be ironic that Rizzo is doing most of his campaigning on foot, except that he is a podiatrist—that's where the "Dr." comes from. It's impressive that he is declining all campaign contributions, although you've got to wonder just how much time he really spends saying no.
As for the idea of paving a six-lane freeway through the last significant swath of wilderness in the area—the scary part is that it's not so far-fetched at all. "Not with the Republicans holding both houses of Congress and the presidency," says Rizzo. "It would be a challenge, but one that is very doable."