What the midterm election results mean for climate action in Southern California
Every election is a climate election, and the 2022 midterms were no exception.
In a surprising twist, the anticipated 'red wave' turned out to be more like a ripple -- though one that still threatens to complicate President Biden's climate agenda.
The high inflation and gas prices that polls and pundits predicted would hurt Democrats in contested races instead resulted in only a slim majority in the House and the Democratic flip of the Senate seat in PA.
Angeles Chapter volunteers met the moment joining Sierra Club members across the country to help get out the vote for pro-environment candidates in the final weeks of the 2022 political cycle.
Our endorsements and the work of our volunteers were instrumental in historic victories for endorsed candidates, including LA’s first Black female Mayor, a pro-environmental majority on the Orange County Board of Supervisors for the first time, and the passage of Measure ULA in the City of Los Angeles.
City of Los Angeles
The passage of Measure ULA, which will provide hundreds of millions of dollars annually to build affordable housing and prevent homelessness, is a huge win for Los Angeles.
Sierra Club recognizes that building affordable housing in the urban core is vital to meeting our climate goals, protecting precious open space, and helping stop the displacement of frontline communities of color. Access to housing is an environmental justice issue as climate change is killing those experiencing homelessness, home insecurity, and low-income seniors.
"Support for Measure ULA shows Sierra Club's commitment to supporting a healthy human environment," said Yvonne Martinez Watson, Chair of the Environmental Justice Committee. "We can't tackle an issue as massive as climate change without first helping our most vulnerable. To change everything, we need everyone."
Sierra Club endorsed Karen Bass for Mayor of Los Angeles because of her understanding of climate change as one of the greatest challenges facing our nation and the world, combined with her demonstrated leadership skills to create winning coalitions that get real results.
Bass was an early endorser of the Green New Deal and has championed environmental justice issues. Bass’ background as a community organizer and extensive experience in the California legislature, where she was Speaker of the Assembly, and in Congress, will serve her well as Mayor, given the increasing need for local governments to coordinate with the state and federal governments.
On the other hand, her opponent, wealthy real estate developer, Rick Caruso, had no plan to address key environmental issues like shutting down LA’s gas-fired power plants, banning gas hookups in new housing, protecting Angelenos from extreme heat, improving traffic and reducing warming emissions, and recycling wastewater.
This was a bad year to be an incumbent running for LA City Council. The voters seemed fed up with the way things have been running and are placing their hope in a new slate of leaders.
The LA City Council welcomes two new Sierra Club-endorsed members, Katy Young Yaroslavsky and Tim McOsker. Katy served as the environmental deputy for retiring County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl where she developed environment and water policy. Tim served as Chief Executive Officer of AltaSea, a non-profit advancing scientific discovery, and collaboration in ocean sustainability and the blue economy, augmenting job creation at the Port of Los Angeles.
"I look forward to newly-elected Los Angeles City Councilmember Tim McOsker working to clean up pollution in the 15th District while ensuring a just transition for any affected workers,” says Al Sattler of the Chapter’s Palos Verdes-South Bay Group.,” says Al Sattler of the Chapter’s Palos Verdes-South Bay Group. “One of the priorities listed on his campaign website is "Combating Climate Change & Ensuring Environmental Justice". He states: "Clean air and good jobs are not mutually exclusive. The transition of fuels and evolution of equipment must plan for the retention of jobs and, in some cases, training and transition to new, secure, well-compensated positions." The district includes the Port of Los Angeles and oil refineries, so there are major sources of pollution to be cleaned up. He was endorsed by most unions, environmental groups, and legislators who are strong on environmental issues.”
Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors
LA County’s 10 million residents are represented by just five supervisors, and the open seat caused by Sheila Kuehl’s retirement was a big deal. Our endorsed candidate, West Hollywood Mayor Lindsey Horvath, faced off against State Senator Bob Hertzberg in a hard-fought and closely contested race. Horvath campaigned on a fierce environmental platform, committing to uphold the county’s phase-out and just transition of oil operations, and she was victorious.
"Lindsey Horvath is a proven leader who works collaboratively to get things done—that is why we endorsed her," said Marlene Esquivel, Co-chair of the Los Angeles County Political Committe. "Because now is not the time for talk, it’s a time for action! The urgency of the moment is now for the environment. And she’s the person who can help us deliver. We look forward to working with her to achieve impact to benefit all! And look forward to her leadership as Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor."
Orange County Board of Supervisors
The culmination of years of work on the ground and organizing by a cornucopia of allies including business owners, unions, and environmental groups led to the election of pro-environmental champion, Katrina Foley.
Katrina ran on a platform prioritizing working-class communities, including making electric vehicles and charging stations more accessible to low-income and multi-family tenants, providing incentives for households to install solar, and using a regional approach to power distribution to maximize the amount of renewable energy on the grid.
“The Sierra Club welcomes the election of our endorsed candidate Katrina Foley to the Orange County Board of Supervisors,” says Ray Hiemstra, Chair of the Orange County Political Committee. “ We are looking forward to working with her to focus attention on environmental justice and natural resource protection issues that have been neglected in the past."
Water is basic to all life and is a finite resource. Water quality and water quantity are integral to issues such as energy, land use, and maintenance of a healthy environment for plants, wildlife, and humanity. Access to clean, sufficient, and affordable water is a human right.
"Everyone should pay attention to the water board races,” says Charming Evelyn, Water Committee Chair. “Directors of water boards make decisions that impact each and every one of us, in terms of water rates, water quality, and fiscal responsibility. We are proud to support water progressives who champion our environmental and social justice goals.
For over a decade, the Sierra Club Angeles Chapter Water and Political Committees have worked together to support environmentally-oriented candidates for water boards. "One of our great victories in November was helping elect Jeff Hanlon to the Three Valleys Municipal Water District board, creating a 4-3 environmentally progressive majority," said John Monsen Water and Political Comm Team Leader. Three Valleys serves Pomona, Glendora, and Claremont.
A few of our own
Dean Francois (Hermosa Beach City Council), Sara Hernandez (Los Angeles Community College Board), Jose Trinidad Castaneda (Buena Park City Council), and Jeremy Wolf (Agoura Hills City Council) were former Sierra Club Political Committee members who were elected in November!
All these victories were the results of months of hard work by volunteers throughout the Chapter. The LA and OC Political Committees began sending our questionnaires and interviewing candidates for endorsement recommendations a year before the election. Votes were taken by political committees, management committees for regional groups in areas for local city council and water district races, and the chapter Executive Board to reach a consensus on recommendations. The Angeles Chapter recommended the endorsement of candidates in 95 races. Those recommendations were approved by either Sierra Club National or a local candidate review committee. Funds were raised by the California Sierra Club PAC to support 60+ candidates across our region and the state. Members were out canvassing, phone banking, posting on social media, and even stuffing envelopes for endorsed candidates in their neighborhoods.
Climate won at the ballot box. Now is the time to congratulate our winning candidates and offer to meet with them to discuss issues of local interest. There will be many organizations of varying interests vying for the attention of the newly elected. Our organization needs to be among them. Remember, if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.
Thank you to the leadership of our Political Committees – Marlene Esquivel and Stacy Fortner, co-chairs our LA PolCom, and Ray Hiemstra and Margee Hill, co-chairs our OC PolComm!
The Angeles Chapter of the Sierra Club welcomes your participation in its century of involvement in the enjoyment and protection of our planet's environment. The Angeles Chapter spans Los Angeles and Orange Counties in Southern California, with an extensive program of hikes/hiking, national and international travel, local conservation campaigns, political action, and programs for people of all ages.