Democracy for Climate, Climate for Democracy: Recapping the 2020 Political Leadership Awards

  • Posted on 26 August 2020
  • By Jonathan Howard
The Angeles Chapter presented its 13th annual Political Leadership Awards on August 23 to an exceptional group of honorees at the first-ever virtual celebration in the Chapter’s history. The event took place on the new Remo conferencing platform. Proceeds from ticket sales for the event will go to the California Sierra Club PAC, which provides financial contributions for Sierra Club-endorsed candidates in state and local elections in California.
This year’s theme, “Climate for Democracy, Democracy for Climate!,” was chosen during these unprecedented and trying times to emphasize the connection between the protection of the environment and of fundamental rights of justice, equity, and democracy. Despite the fact that the event was online, more than one hundred supporters bought tickets to support the PAC and to celebrate pro-environment candidates and heroes who have worked and voted to protect the environment locally and globally and to protect democracy.
Michael Brune (top left) Henry Stern (bottom left) Ramon Cruz (top right)

Michael Brune (top left) Henry Stern (bottom left) Ramón Cruz (top right)

This year’s honorees included two United States Congressmen, the California Secretary of State, two State Assembly members, and a celebrated environmental non-profit. Sierra Club President Ramón Cruz and Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune were guest speakers, and the ever-charming State Senator representing the 27th District, Henry Stern, MC’d the event. 
US Rep. Judy Chu introduced the first honoree, US Rep. Mark Takano. Mark Takano has represented California's 41st congressional district since 2013. As a member of Congress, Representative Takano has repeatedly voted to ensure that the United States behaves as a responsible leader in protecting the environment. 
He recently introduced H.R. 1742, the Battery Storage Innovation Act to support the development of the battery storage industry. Critical legislation as just this month millions of Californians experienced rolling blackouts caused by record-breaking heat, prompting concern over energy demand. 
Judy Chu (left) Mark Takano (right)

Judy Chu (left) Mark Takano (right)

Santa Monica City Council Member Gleam Davis introduced honoree US Rep. Ted Lieu. Rep. Lieu has long been an environmental stalwart, with a special focus on Global Warming. He introduced the Climate Solutions Act, H.R. 330, which aims to make California’s ground-breaking renewable energy goals and climate emissions reduction targets a national model. 
Rep. Lieu also introduced H.R. 1487, now in the Senate’s Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. If passed it would give the National Parks Service (NPS) the authority to add more than 191,000 acres in the Rim of the Valley Corridor to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area (SMMNRA).
Gleam Davis (left) Ted Lieu (right)

Gleam Davis (left) Ted Lieu (right)

State Sen. Holly Mitchell—a local environmental champion in her own right—gave a glowing introduction to California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who was honored for his nationally recognized status as a leader in efforts to make voting in California easier.  For advocates of expanded voting rights, California is the gold standard with top election officials vested in taking the state’s model national, to ensure safe voting for all. 
In a time when COVID-19 threatens access to the polls and the fairness and safety of our elections, and when the Postmaster General has taken actions that would slow the delivery of the mail in the weeks leading up to the election, it’s leadership like that of Sec. Padilla that we are celebrating. 
Holly Mitchell (left) Alex Padilla (right)

Holly Mitchell (left) Alex Padilla (right)

The Angeles Chapter’s own Sharon Lee Koch introduced Assembly Member Cottie Petrie-Norris who graciously accepted the honor from her constituent. Representing California’s 74th Assembly District, Assembly Member Petrie-Norris was the ‘greenest’ of the evening’s honorees. In her short time in office, she’s joined the Assembly’s Accountability and Administrative Review Committee, the Select Committee on Student Debt, and also serves on the Assembly’s committees for Appropriations, Revenue & Taxation, and Veterans Affairs.
Recognizing the issue of global warming and rising sea-levels on her community compounded by the election of Donald Trump in 2016, Assembly Member Petrie-Harris got “incredibly busy.” During her first year of service, she authored A.B. 65, a bill which invests in green infrastructure and planning—and was signed into law by Governor Newsome just last year. 
She posted a picture of her accepting the honor on Twitter, we shot her a like. 

Assemblymember Petrie-Norris accepts SC honor (twitter)

State Assembly Member Richard Bloom presented the Political Leadership Award to Assembly Member Ed Chau, who had to accept his award in absentia with pre-recorded remarks. Assembly Member Chau’s message did not miss the mark. His words truly embodied the spirit of the event. He thanked the Club and congratulated his fellow honorees, praising them for their pro-environmental achievements. 

When it came to the importance of this year’s theme “Democracy for Climate, Climate for Democracy,” Assemblymember Chau did not mince words. “We have an administration who has fundamentally ignored the will of the people, people who care deeply about environmental justice and conservation,” he said. “Make no mistake the 2020 election will be one of the most important elections ever. We must make a change for the sake of our future.”
Assembly Member Ed Chau

Assemblymember Ed Chau

The organization Food & Water Watch (FWW) was the final honoree of the evening. Alexandra Nagy, FWW Southern CA Organizer, Walker Foley, FWW CA Political Director and Conner Everts of the Environmental Water Caucus, attended the event on the organization’s behalf and were introduced by Dr. Loraine Lundquist. 
FWW calls it as they see it. They exposed inaction at Aliso Canyon, problems with the Delta Tunnels Project, and California’s tarnished green image. The organization points out that while we are seeing our utilities invest in renewable energy resources our low-income communities are still impacted by toxic infrastructure.
Their mission serves an important reminder that if we’re to meet the climate crisis and the problem of environmental justice face to face, or even if we’re to beat Donald Trump in November for that matter, we must do so with a broad diverse coalition. Climate change is everyone’s problem. 
Dr. Loraine Lundquist (top left) Henry Stern (lower left) Alexandra Nagy & Walker Foley (top right)

Dr. Loraine Lundquist (top left) Henry Stern (lower left) Alexandra Nagy & Walker Foley (top right)

This year’s honorees are the answer to the naysayers who believe the political system is incapable of taking the swift action we’ll need to combat this existential threat. The accomplishments of these six honorees, and the promise of their future achievements, are an inspiration to anyone seeking to make change happen.
Just as important as the honorees were the sponsors of the event. Sponsor tiers included Clean Air Defenders ($250 Level), Vote Suppression Preventers ($500 level), California Coastal Act Champions ($1,000). Barbara Hensleigh & Joe Andrews topped off the list as Greenhouse Gas Fighters at the $2,500 Level. Thank you to everyone who helped make this event possible!
Sponsors list
Sierra Club members can help by letting our honorees know we support their actions and by lending a hand in their next campaigns.  Contributions to the California Sierra Club PAC are always welcome and can be made by clicking this link

The Angeles Chapter Political Committee welcomes any Sierra Club Angeles Chapter member who wants to participate in the process of selecting candidates for endorsement and working to elect them to public office.

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