The overlooked candidate

Happy Valley man wants Herger’s seat

Gregory Cheadle, a candidate for Wally Herger’s congressional seat, says he’s tired of the elitists running the nation.

Gregory Cheadle, a candidate for Wally Herger’s congressional seat, says he’s tired of the elitists running the nation.

Photo By tom gascoyne

Wally Herger’s announcement last month that he would not seek re-election to the congressional seat he’s held for the last quarter-century triggered a wave of interest, with a couple of widely known politicians jumping into the race.

Fourth District state Sen. Doug LaMalfa, who’s been blessed with the incumbent’s endorsement, announced his intentions just as Herger made his plans official. LaMalfa’s predecessor, former state Sen. Sam Aanestad, made public mention of his interest in the job soon after and then made it official on Feb. 10.

Joining those two Republicans running in the June 5 primary are the candidates who ran for Herger’s seat two years ago: retired Air Force Col. Pete Stiglich of Cottonwood, also a Republican, and Democrat Jim Reed, an attorney out of Fall River Mills.

But there is another Republican candidate in this race; a real-estate broker from Happy Valley named Gregory Cheadle who is making his initial venture into politics. He’s not received much in the way of press beyond a story last November in the Anderson Valley Post, a mention or two in the Redding Record Searchlight and a recent a piece on Redding’s KRCR news.

But Cheadle announced his candidacy last May, challenging the incumbent well before Herger said he would not run again.

“I like Wally,” Cheadle said in a recent interview. “Every time we see each other we hug, so there is no bad blood between us or anything. But he’s a career politician, and I just disagree with some of the stands that he’s taken.”

Cheadle announced his candidacy early, he said, to get a head start on the other candidates.

“Everyone else is going to have tons more money than I do, so the way to get in the game was to get in early,” he said.

He’s campaigning door to door.

“I’m getting donations,” he said. “Not very many because I’m not seeking them. I guess I’m shooting myself in the foot, but my priority is not fundraising. My priority is to be out with the people. I’ve gotten donations as small as 86 cents. And that was a lot of money to this woman; she wasn’t working, but she had faith in what I was doing.”

Cheadle, 55, was born in Cleveland and raised there and in Oakland.

“My parents divorced, and so I played ping-pong between Oakland and Cleveland growing up,” he said.

He moved to the Redding area about 11 years ago. Besides being a real-estate broker, he said, he has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in public administration, is one class away from finishing a degree in nursing and is about two months shy of earning a law degree from the Cal Northern School of Law in Chico.

He also owns a business called Uncle Greg’s Playhouses, which builds “luxury playhouses” that, according to the company website, sell for between $12,000 and $15,000. And he is a single father of three—two daughters ages 26 and 13 and a son who is 19.

His decision to run for Congress, he said, came from his frustration with where the country is headed: expanding government, overreaching regulations, reliance on foreign oil and policing the world with our military.

And, he said, sounding more like an Occupier than a Tea Partier, he is tired of our country being run by “elitists.”

“Our political system was designed so that everybody, from the homemaker to the home builder to whatever, could run for Congress,” he said. “It wasn’t supposed to be an elitist group of people.”

He says he knows LaMalfa and Aanestad, both of whom he described as “wealthy.”

He said growing up as a black kid in the 1960s in inner-city Cleveland and Oakland pretty much coincided with the general perceptions that came out of that time—racism, segregation and violence.

“My father was what they called a ‘shoeshine boy’ in those days,” Cheadle said. “Then he went into shoe repair.”

He called the time a “bloody period in our history,” a time that saw the deaths of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy.

“It was a very hostile, very racist time,” he said. “There were riots all over Cleveland. It was like, ‘What in the world is going on?’ You go to your house one day, and the next it’s locked up and there are tanks going up and down your streets.”

Candidate filing for the open seat began Monday (Feb. 13). The top two candidates in the June 5 primary, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in the November general election.

Does he worry as a conservative black man about getting labeled as an “Uncle Tom” but other blacks?

He laughed at the notion. “I don’t think so. There are only about 17 or 18 black people who live in the Redding area.”