Who would you expect to be driving a vehicle with the license plate “4 SATAN”?
If Steve Hill gets his way, the answer is the next representative of California’s 25th Congressional District.
In the wake of the Jan. 6 insurrection in Washington, D.C., Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) came under heavy fire for his rhetoric and views surrounding the falsely perceived illegitimacy of President Joe Biden’s electoral victory. With his seat seemingly in jeopardy next year and an easy target, many people have thrown their hats into the ring to be his prospective replacement, Hill being one of them.
“I don’t understand how Mike Garcia could vote with people who tried to overthrow our government,” said Hill, who is running as an independent. “This is America, we don’t support traitors. To see that and not say anything about it means you’re not fit for office.”
One of Hill’s prominent motivations to run for office is what he explained to be a lack of representation in his own community.
“I’m an atheist and people like me don’t have a voice,” he said. “I was really disrespected one time by the Black church one time when I went to help them with one of their youth programs, but since I wasn’t religious they told me ‘don’t come back.’”
Hill looked for a way to speak out against this disrespect and chose stand-up comedy as his platform. He began performing political comedy routines in 2007, inspired by Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
“I’ve always had a sense of humor and I thought that if he could be president and inspire his community, then I could at least get on stage and tell some jokes, do some political humor and give people a different perspective on life,” Hill said. “My comedy is everything you’re not supposed to tell. Jokes about race, religion, sex and politics. I mainly go with politics so I can hit all four at once.”
Though he is an atheist, part of Hill’s performance persona has led him to being a Satanist (in addition to his license plate, his campaign website is satan4congress.com). Contrary to popular belief, Satanism is not devil worship but a religion formed as a satirical reaction to Christianity that is based around logic and reason.
“I don’t believe in the devil, it’s a metaphor for fighting the system and an adversarial position I take,” Hill said. “Religion is used to take advantage of the weak and the vulnerable, so that’s one reason why I go by the Satanist mantra. Satanism has seven tenets but that became too much like being in a religion. I have one tenet and that is to treat people with respect.”
A 30-year resident of the Antelope Valley, Hill was born in St. Louis, Mo. and joined the United States Marine Corps in 1979 when he was 17 years old. According to Hill, members of his family fought in every American war since the Civil War.
“It was just this sense of duty,” Hill said. “There was never any question for me, and as soon as I had enough credits to graduate high school I was in boot camp. Nothing beats being a U.S. Marine.”
Hill worked as a machinist during his enlistment and was discharged in 1984 as a sergeant. From there he continued with his mechanical experience and worked for Rexnord Aerospace for seven years, manufacturing aircraft parts. After a while working, Hill still felt the need to serve, so he joined the California Department of Corrections as a security officer between 1991 and 2000. Hill said that seeing the horrifying conditions and crimes that occurred even within the prison walls made him want to try to have a positive impact on young people, so he then worked as a middle school security supervisor.
“I had worked in the prisons where my job was to stop grown men from killing each other, so I thought this would be a piece of cake,” Hill said. “At least in prison I didn’t have to worry about anyone trying to shoot me. One kid actually brought a gun to school. There was a real level of danger there but I was happy to do it because I knew there were kids who counted on me to keep them safe.”
He loved working with children and being a positive role model for them, but the experience became dangerous and “nerve-racking,” so he transitioned careers once more and became a real estate appraiser, starting his own company called Anaverde Appraisal.
“I got into real estate three years before the mortgage meltdown and luckily I was able to maintain my business because a lot of appraisers quit,” he said. “I like the analytical part of appraisal where you have to do research and come to a credible result. I like working with numbers and that it’s a solitary business where I don’t have to supervise anyone or go into someone’s office, and what you put into it is what you get out.”
One of Hill’s main platforms is education. He said that he has always had a passion for education (he even convinced his wife to become a teacher), but having worked in lower-income middle schools, he knows the effects of children not having access to the resources to succeed academically. Specifically, Hill wants to make community college free and to give stipends to low-income students to help them meet their education costs.
“I believe education is the great equalizer,” he said. “We’ll never get rid of racism but I think education is the best way to get up into the middle class and break the cycle of poverty. I just want kids to be able to get an education without incurring a zillion dollars of debt for their entire lives. That whole system is broken.”
Police reform is another of Hill’s main areas of focus as a candidate. Hill said that between the heavy gang presence on the eastside of Lancaster and the lack of accountability in the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, he does not feel safe in his own community and carries a firearm for his own safety. He said that he has a pending $1.1 million lawsuit against the sheriff’s department with which he aims to “expose why Black people can’t get any justice in any system as it pertains to policing and law enforcement.”
His perspective and platform focusing on police reform was educated by his time working as a corrections officer as well as the multiple complaints he’s filed against the sheriff’s department that he alleges have gone unresolved and the offenders have cleared themselves of any wrongdoing.
Primary among Hill’s actionables would be to require that police officers wear body cameras at all times
“Everyone starts screaming and yelling about defunding the police but I think that’s an asinine phraseology,” Hill said. “What you do is hold the police accountable. Of course they don’t need all of these tanks and grenade launchers, but defunding the police is just as absurd as beating cops with a ‘Blue Lives Matter’ flag at a rally.”
Hill is also passionate about immigration reform. He would like to fix existing immigration policies to expedite the processes and systems so that applicants are not stuck waiting ten or more years for approval. This would allow prospective citizens to provide the labor that is so desperately needed in everyday society and that, according to Hill, is being “exploited.”
“I’m sick of how [politicians] treat the Hispanic community,” he said. “One minute they want to build a wall, and the next minute everyone know where in town they can go to hire an undocumented worker. One minute you’re the party trying to build a wall and the next minute you want to keep the Mexican people out and the next you’re giving presentations only in Spanish. It’s hypocrisy any way you look at it.”
In addition to Garcia’s presence before and during the January insurrection, Hill takes issue with what he believes is empty showboating for conservative media outlets.
“Mike Garcia is out here ranting and raving all over the media about busting drug dealers and these marijuana farms but what people need to understand is that it’s a gimmick and a game,” Hill said. “He’s manipulating the minds of these people to think he’s a ‘tough on crime’ individual. Just look at his votes, at the Jan. 6 Commission. I’m a former U.S. Marine. I took an oath to protect this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic and those were domestic terrorists.”
Hill is no stranger to political races. He previously ran for California State Senate as a Democrat in 2016 and 2020.
“I received 12 percent of the vote, and when people went onto my website, they realized I was really just a big Bernie supporter,” he said. “I learned that campaigning is really just who can kiss the most ass and collect the most money and endorsement. They’re selling out the souls of the people.”
Contrary to these popular campaign strategies, Hill is choosing to eschew gaining favor with special interest groups and lobbyists and instead opting for a grassroots, direct-to-the-people approach. He believes that this strategy will indicate to voters that he isn’t in politics for the money and rather about working for and protecting the people he would represent in CA-25. Because he is not beholden to any special interests, Hill said that he will not have to censor what he says for fear of upsetting donors.
While these intentions may be noble, this position potentially puts Hill at a disadvantage should he win the seat since he would not have the established political muscle backing his efforts. He isn’t worried.
“The support of the people is the only thing you need because they’re the ones voting,” Hill said. “If you can get this dirty money out of politics, then we could get better quality people in office.”
Though he admits his professed Satanism and atheism have gotten him into trouble before, Hill does not see those beliefs as obstacles to his campaign. Instead, he hopes that they will serve as a reminder of the separation between church and state and a point of curiosity that makes his campaign stand out.
“None of these politicians can go one sentence without saying, ‘God bless America,’ but who is God? Allah? Buddha? There are literally thousands of gods, and they say this is a Christian nation, but look at it,” Hill said. “We stole this land from the Native American and built it with people stolen from Africa, but this is supposed to be a Christian nation?”
Hill’s plan is to host a series of “Satanic Town Halls” to give constituents an opportunity to learn about his positions. He believes after speaking with him, people will be willing to look past their religious misgivings and grant him their votes. He also hopes to participate in debates with the other candidates, which will give him a platform to share and demystify his views in front of an audience that might not otherwise have listened to him.
But with an increasingly crowded race and in spite of his previous unsuccessful political bids, what makes Hill think that the third time will be the charm?
“Because all I have to do is tell the truth,” he said. “The people are ready for the truth, and I have a whole lot of truth to tell.”
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