Candidate, Santa Fe County Commissioner District 5
Do you agree with climate scientists that we are facing a climate emergency?
Do you agree with climate scientists that greenhouse gas emissions must be reversed within 12 years in order to achieve carbon neutrality in time to keep global temperature rise below 1.5 degrees and to avoid catastrophic runaway climate disruption?
In your opinion, why do political leaders set benchmarks and timeframes for emissions reductions that do not comport with climate science mandates? If elected, what will you do differently than current leadership?
State and national political leaders set benchmarks in consultation with fossil fuel interests and so we end up with compromise positions. I would propose that the County set its own benchmarks that recognize the 12 year time frame. At the County level we have the advantage of not being dependent on fossil fuel interests to the extent that others are.
If elected, what specific policies will you initiate in your first year of service to begin transitioning our economy to net zero carbon emissions in the timeframe set by the world’s leading scientists?
I would propose that the County continue to convert all of the energy for its operations to renewable sources, that we implement incentives, such as property tax reductions for individuals and businesses to install solar panels, and that we strengthen the energy efficiency requirements in the building code to make new structures carbon neutral.
What measures will you propose and advance to ensure that economic recovery and the transition to a green economy fosters equity and economic & racial justice?
I will propose a pay equity study to ensure gender and racial equity in pay for County jobs, an increase in the minimum wage to $15 per hour, and a process with lots of community involvement to develop a plan to increase equity and justice throughout the County.
What are your ideas to reduce the County's dependence on state revenues derived from oil and gas development and to increase LOCAL revenue generation from sustainable sources?
I would like to investigate several options, some of which would require approval from the State Legislature. I would like to investigate involving the County in community solar projects that actually make money while providing clean energy and I would like to explore making the property tax structure more progressive while also raising funds for the kinds of capital projects now funded by the state funds.
If elected, will you support the creation of a Just Transition Study & Fund to identify alternative revenue sources for our state budget and invest in community-driven climate mitigation and adaptation strategies? Explain.
Yes. We must ensure that this process involves all segments of the community so that the recommendations can enjoy wide support when it comes to implementation.
If elected, how will you include Indigenous and traditional land-based knowledge in the development of a sustainable economy for all of NM?
I will insist that we include representatives from the Pueblos in Santa Fe County in our committees and task forces that develop the plans for the transition to renewables as well as representatives of the indigenous people from other tribes living in New Mexico so that we can take advantage of their knowledge about sustainable use of our land.
Who will you talk to about climate issues? Who advises you? What is your plan for community consultation on climate issues?
Currently I have been talking to the Sierra Club and YUCCA in a small way. I would hope to involve these groups and others in providing ongoing advice to the County through a transition task force.
Define environmental racism in your own words and provide an example in NM.
Environmental racism is the practice of placing polluting industries in poor communities of color that have little power to fight back. This leads to bad health outcomes in these poorer communities. An example is the placement of uranium mining in the Navajo communities around Grants and Churchrock and the failure to clean up the resulting waste. This has lead to some horrible health problems among the Navajo people in that area.
Do you believe climate action is an issue of intergenerational justice? What is the responsibility of your generation to the youth and future generations while in office? Explain.
It is an issue of intergenerational justice in that the younger people will suffer from the inaction of the older generations. Our responsibility to future generations is to take bold action to address climate change before it is too late and leave the next generations with a world that is not totally degraded.
A) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas development in the state of New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes. Even though gas is cleaner than coal, it still adds to the greenhouse effect. We should put a moratorium on new development and encourage a switch to renewable sources.
B) Do you support placing a moratorium on new gas plant investment for utilities in New Mexico? Why or Why Not?
Yes. As we close coal plants the generating capacity needs to come for wind and solar.
Do you support nuclear energy? Why or Why Not?
I do not support any new use of nuclear energy. We have never solved the problem of what to do with the waste. We will however need to keep what nuclear we have in the short run so that we can shut down the fossil fuel plants first.
Do you support a competitive energy market where Cities/Counties/Indigenous Nations are able to own, produce, and sell electricity to residents and keep energy dollars local?
Yes. This requires a change in state law, but I will push for this change as a County Commissioner and then push Santa Fe County to generate its own electricity from renewable sources.
Community Solar legislation has been brought up multiple times in the last few years. What is your position on community solar and what will you do to ensure that community solar is prioritized and passes?
I support community solar and would use my position as a County Commissioner to lobby for it at the state legislature.
What do you believe is the fossil fuel industry/utility’s responsibility for cleanup and how as an elected official in the public office for which you are running do you plan to hold industry accountable for pollution and cleanup?
The fossil fuel industry needs to pay for its cleanup. This could best be done by requiring bonds or taxes that cover the cost of cleanup.
Do you believe bonding rates for industry should cover the full cost of cleanup?
We have seen the oil industry collapse over the last month, with oil prices nosediving. Given our current situation and the danger our state’s budget is in, how do you see the role of oil and gas corporations in New Mexico’s future?
We need to phase out oil and gas as quickly as possible in New Mexico by prohibiting any new uses of fossil fuels for electricity generation and incentivizing the switch to electric cars. We need to develop New Mexico's ample wind and solar resources to replace the energy lost by phasing out oil and gas, and we need to use a progressive income tax to replace the lost revenue.
Do you support utility bill forgiveness for low-income New Mexicans who have been hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis?
Some folks are saying that COVID-19 is the dress rehearsal for the climate crisis. In fact, in many places throughout the world, the two are compounding crises. What do you think we can learn from the COVID-19 crisis when addressing the climate crisis?
I think we should learn that we cannot continue on with business as usual. We should learn to listen to the experts and heed their warnings. We can also learn that we can adapt to new ways of living in our community and that we can and must adapt to only using renewable sources of energy.
Describe your previous experience working on social/health/environmental issues, do you have experience working with impacted communities to co-develop solutions? How will you use this experience to tackle the climate crisis?
I currently work for the NM Coalition to End Homelessness where we work with community groups in New Mexico to develop affordable housing. For example, I have worked with the Santa Fe Community Housing Trust to develop mixed income apartment communities that included units for homeless families and individuals. Earlier in my career I worked as a water resources specialist working with communities in New York State that were impacted by existing or potential groundwater contamination.
Have you accepted any donations from fossil fuel companies or utilities? Yes/No
Will you take the #fossilfree pledge?