My responses to the Rogue Climate Youth Climate Justice
Candidate Questionnaire for Ashland City Council 2022
Youth leaders with Rogue Climate’s Action Team (RCAT) recently organized a youth climate justice questionnaire for all Ashland City Council candidates. RCAT is a a youth-led team focused on making change within their communities. This youth leadership team has been trained through Rogue Climate’s youth internship program to organize for climate, transit, social and economic justice campaigns.
“As a group of high schoolers still too young to vote, we wanted to find a way to participate in the elections this year. RCAT,” the team explained. “The intention of this questionnaire is to educate the broader community on candidate stances on issues facing our community. It is meant to uplift the priorities of local youth in publicizing information on Ashland’s Council race. This questionnaire and the results gathered do not serve as either a formal or informal endorsement of any candidate.”
RCAT received responses from five of the six candidates (all except Joy Fate) running for the three Council positions currently up for election (positions 2,4, and 6).
As someone who has spent many years working at the intersection of environment/climate with economic development (improving livelihoods) and social welfare, I very much appreciate the vision and leadership of RCAT and Rogue Climate and this thoughtful questionnaire.
Click on the question categories to read my responses:
- Investments for a healthy future
- Just transition off of fossil fuels
- Supporting youth leadership
- Housing & climate
- Environmental leadership
These are not new issues for me,
and I am personally deeply committed to helping people
improve their livelihoods while protecting the environment,
which increasingly also means adapting to a changing climate.
Ashland’s 2017 Climate and Energy Action Plan is a great resource for Ashland’s response to climate change and reducing our emissions.
Highlights of my responses:
- I have three decades of environmental leadership and climate adaptation experience
- I support city investment to tackle the climate crisis, pollution, and inequity
- I support phasing out our fossil fuel reliance through city ordinances and electrification
- I am excited about meaningfully engaging Ashland’s youth in city decision-making!
- I support jointly addressing our affordable housing crunch and climate impact by:
- applying for grants and low-cost loans to finance weatherization and installation of high-efficiency electric equipment in new and existing housing
- exploring the feasibility of raising the height limit in some areas of the city to allow energy-efficient apartment buildings/condos that could be offered at a lower rental rate or sale price.
- making it easier for residents to rely more on walking, cycling, or public transport instead of driving
- bringing back the Ashland Connector!
Investments for a healthy future
Question: Do you support city investments in infrastructure in regards to: renewable energy, ecology, sustainable agricultural, accessible heating and cooling shelters, and other projects to tackle the climate crisis, pollution, and reduce inequity among those most impacted by climate change?
My response: YES! In the coming decades, building community resilience to the effects of climate change and protecting our most vulnerable residents is going to be one of the primary roles of our governments. In addition to securing a basic safety net of accessible heating and cooling shelters, I will look for ways to invest in win-win-win opportunities like home energy efficiency that reduce exposure to the effects of climate change, cut greenhouse gas emissions, and save on monthly utility bills.
Just transition off of fossil fuels
Question: Cities across the west coast are phasing out their reliance on fossil fuels to improve public health, address climate change, and increase affordability. Do you support such a transition in Ashland through city ordinances and electrification projects?
My response: YES – emphatically! There are many things we can do in Ashland, and owning our electric utility makes the task much easier and more affordable. We need an urgent campaign to raise public awareness and understanding of the deleterious health and environmental impacts of burning “natural” gas in our homes, and that better electric alternatives are available. We should then move as soon as possible to ban “natural” gas connections in new residential construction. The more difficult task is to retire gas equipment in existing residences. We can facilitate this over several years by ensuring every home is ready to support full electrification by having a 200 amp service panel and a plan with financing in place (if necessary) to make the switch.
Supporting youth leadership
Do you plan to meaningfully engage Ashland’s youth in city decision-making? Examples include: supporting youth-centered public engagement events, including youth membership on city commissions with voting membership, and funding for youth-focused city activities and opportunities.
My response: YES – I support having at least one youth member on every city commission with full voting rights. I have already begun to explore possible collaboration with SOU’s “Democracy Project” to develop a public policy “practicum” to evaluate and advise me on issues coming before Ashland City Council if I am elected. This could potentially include AHS student participation as well. Ashland running its own electric, water, and wastewater treatment utilities provides great opportunities for students to explore the interconnections among these systems and their importance for community health and economic vitality. I am also strongly in favor of remodeling the Daniel Meyer pool with an appropriate retractable roof.
Housing & climate
Describe your approach to jointly addressing Ashland’s need for affordable housing and reduction of local emissions/other factors contributing to climate change.
My Response: All-electric housing is less expensive to build than dual-fuel buildings, and emit less greenhouse gasses. We should apply for grants and low-cost loans to finance weatherization and installation of high efficiency electric equipment to reduce emissions and reduce monthly utility bills in new and existing housing, including accessory dwelling units for rental. Ashland’s highly supportive policy for virtual net metering offers additional opportunities to install community solar facilities, which could be another element in a strategy to reduce electricity rates for income-qualified households. We should also explore the feasibility of raising the height limit in some areas of the city to allow perhaps four or five-floor energy efficient apartment buildings or condominiums that could be offered at a lower rental rate or sale price. Siting additional housing relatively centrally and near the transit triangle could make it easier for residents to rely more on walking, cycling, or public transport instead of driving their own car for all errands. Bring back the Ashland Connector!
Please describe leadership you’ve shown in support of the environment and/or communities most impacted by climate change.
I spent three decades working in Latin America, including on several major environment and climate adaptation initiatives.
In the early 1990/91, I led a World Bank team that prepared a loan and grant package to the government of Mexico to strengthen the regulatory and enforcement capacity of the national environmental protection agency and manage the national system of protected ecological areas for biodiversity protection.
From 1992-94, also at the World Bank, I led the design and start-up of a multi-national $250 million grant program in the Brazilian Amazon to secure indigenous lands and extractive reserves, fund local conservation organizations, establish and strengthen state environmental protection agencies, and other related projects.
From 1998-2007, I led a team of experts at the Inter-American Development Bank responsible for all lending and technical assistance in Mexico, Central America, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti for environmental protection, natural resource management, potable water and wastewater treatment, and natural disaster risk management. Early climate work included supporting “joint implementation” agreements through the Global Environmental Facility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Mexico and a few Central American countries, as well as working with Caribbean fishing communities affected by deterioration of the Mesoamerican barrier reef (Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, Honduras) due to climate change.
From 2010-17, I was President and CEO of the Inter-American Foundation. We funded community organizations throughout Latin America and the Caribbean that presented proposals on a wide range of issues, including environmental protection and adapting to climate change. Examples include a network of community organizations in Costa Rica that worked together to regulate coastal fishing to preserve fragile marine resources; ecotourism and preservation of a large fragile wetland in northern Argentina; and early warning and civil protection systems for Salvadoran communities vulnerable to more frequent flood events.
In sum, I have spent many years working at the intersection of environment/climate with economic development (improving livelihoods) and social welfare. These are not new issues for me, and I am personally deeply committed to helping people improve their livelihoods while protecting the environment, which increasingly also means adapting to a changing climate.