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John Muir with Teddy Roosevelt
Theodore Roosevelt and John Muir, partners in environmentalism

 

 

Politics of Change:

Angeles Chapter Political Committee Takes a Look at the Critical State of Elections and the Environment in 2010

By Alex MIntzer , Susana Reyes , and Howard Straus
Angeles Chapter Political Committee

The June 8 primary is an important date to remember. On this day, voters in CA will make their mark in politics and the environment. How is this any different from past primaries?

First, the latest congressional job approval rating provides a sign that the 2010 elections could be challenging. Approval of Congress is now low across all three partisan groups.

Second, midterm elections are low-turnout affairs that put much more focus on the races for Congress. In CA, there are specific targeted races for the U.S.House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate that can make or break the ‘environment.’ Voting decisions at the national level for our Senators and Representatives can and will impact the balance of power in our federal legislature.

There are also many decisions made at state and local levels with which voters may not agree and are therefore inclined to make a referendum out of those decisions. There are key CA Assembly and Senate open seats where we need to elect pro-environmental candidates who can carry our agenda to the legislature. There are statewide offices that required intense research into candidates’ environmental platform and agenda before we can put the Sierra Club’s seal of approval.

The Sierra Club endorsement is highly regarded by our members. The Club’s push for youth civic involvement and more diversity is a strategic goal to enhance our political programs nationwide. The millenial generation – 44 million 18-29 year olds – is paying attention to top issues such as jobs and the economy, healthcare, education, and the environment. Their votes are more than one fifth of the electorate in 2008 and growing. They, too, value the Sierra Club endorsement.

What This Election Means for California

As many of you are aware, the laws and regulations safeguarding our beautiful environment in California have come under increasing pressure recently and it is now more important than ever to elect those candidates who have demonstrated a commitment to keeping this protection in place and even working to increase it. California’s legislators and the Governor have established an environmental record unmatched by any other state and the federal government and it is up to all of to make sure that this record remains in place by electing the right candidates to take their seat in Sacramento.

In times of economic stress like what we are going through now, it’s not unusual for people to look around for something to blame for our problems and a number have decided that the strong environmental laws and regulations that we have here in California are the cause of all the problems. If only those laws and regulations could be rolled back, everything would be fine and prosperity would be right around the corner. Of course, the voices making this claim were never in favor in the first place of the strong safeguards of the environment that we have here in California and they feel that this is there chance to do something about it. Unfortunately, the pressure to exempt some projects from complying with the California Environmental Quality Act and to weaken air quality and water quality standards has had limited success.

Some wealthy developers and polluters have even gone so far as to work to put measures on the ballot to roll back laws like the groundbreaking greenhouse gas emissions law we have here in California. Some candidates appear to have as the central theme of their candidacy the roll back of laws protecting the environment in California that has made California the leader in the nation in environmental protection.

The Sierra Club has carefully looked at the candidates who are running for statewide office, for state senate and state assembly. We have also looked at a number of the ballot measures that will appear on the June ballot. Our concern is always how the election of the candidates and the passage of the ballot measures will work to preserve the environmental safeguards that we have in place here in California.

When making your decision as to who to vote for in the upcoming election, we urge you to please take into account what the election of the candidate will mean for environmental safeguards in California. The Sierra Club has already evaluated the candidates and decided who will best represent our interests in Sacramento. The wealthy developers and polluters have also made their choices.

Please vote for the candidates endorsed by the Sierra Club. It is absolutely critical that California remain in the lead in the protection of our beautiful environment and your vote can make the difference.

Orange County Political Committee Makes a Difference

OC activists take the elections seriously. Because 2010 is an election year, the OC political committee has many goals and plans in motion:

U.S. Congress: Sierra Club re-endorsed Loretta Sanchez (47th district), who had a League of Conservation Voters score of 92% in 2008 and last year voted with the Sierra Club position on 5 out of 5 bills of interest. OC Political Committee received official Club endorsement for Irvine Councilmember Beth Krom, who is running against John Campbell in the 48th Congressional District. Krom was endorsed by Sierra Club in her successful 2000- 2008 campaigns for Irvine Mayor and City Council, and was honored last October by Angeles Chapter (LA/OC Political Leadership Award). The OC polcomm also supported the successful efforts of San Gorgonio Chapter to get Club endorsement for challenger Bill Hedrick against incumbent Ken Calvert in the 44th congressional district, which includes cities in south OC but lies mostly in Riverside County.

State Assembly: OC polcomm works hard to communicate SC priorities with incumbent Assemblymember Jose Solorio in the 69th district. There are also candidates running in the Irvine area and San Juan Capistrano area that the polcomm is doing more research.

City Council Races: For the past 10 years, the OC polcomm has successfully coordinated local candidate questionnaire and interview process with Orange County League of Conservation Voters (OCLCV). After these interviews, the two organizations make separate decisions to support candidates. OC polcomm has already made city-by-city assignments with OCLCV in anticipation of a busy late summer and fall. Filing deadlines are in August for City Council elections in November (there is no primary). OC involvement is planned in twenty cities, including Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano, San Clemente, and Tustin.

Together with OCLCV, OC Political Committee hosted a Green Candidates Academy workshop on March 20, 2010 to connect local candidates with local environmental activists and provide information to candidates on environmental issues in OC. We hope to co-sponsor another event in late summer, as election season heats up. As OC cities get ‘built out’, our local issues over the last decade have slowly evolved from open space preservation toward sustainable building, transportation, water, and energy use patterns in urban and suburban communities.

Take the Cue from John Muir

Let’s take a cue from inspiring thoughts from his bio: John Muir’s words and deeds helped inspire President Theodore Roosevelt’s innovative conservation programs, including establishing the first National Monuments by Presidential Proclamation, and Yosemite National Park by congressional action. John Muir won many battles, and some he lost. But he built movements for change that inspired millions, forced political leaders to join his cause and changed not only hearts, but minds. Muir was always more than an idealistic naturalist; he was a persuasive advocate, as adept as any politician at winning public support. Muir would have been excited by the prospect that the natural resources around us may actually be the key to solving the climate crisis. As Muir pointed out, it is all connected. Business success, quality of life and a sustainable environment are not in opposition. They are related, and we can make positive progress in each area together.

Environmental victories at the polls are precious! Let the ballot reflect our vote for pro-environmental candidates and measures this June primary..

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This page last modified: 5/17/2010

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