By Brooke Summers Hume
I am a longtime environmentalist with undergraduate and graduate studies in environmental policy and sustainable business. My climate action volunteerism has ramped up this year, because, frankly, I am terrified and beyond disappointed in our elected officials. Volunteering for three different climate action organizations has given me poignant insight into the importance of this upcoming election. The stakes could not be higher and the need for our climate vote could not be more urgent. As such, I present the following voting guide for Northern California District 4, Truckee, and neighboring North State and Reno with an emphasis on where you can consider casting your climate vote. This is not about party affiliations. These voting suggestions are strictly based on choosing candidates that are poised to combat the climate crisis, both in Washington D.C. and locally.
In 2018, the IPCC warned the world of a global catastrophic climate crisis if drastic action was not taken in 12 years. We have 10 years left and our country has taken several huge steps backwards. In the last California state legislative session, three solid environmental bills hit the gauntlet: AB1080 and SB54, to reduce single use plastics, and AB345, to require a 2,500-foot buffer between oil or gas drilling and homes, schools, and other sensitive locations. While not directly related to climate, these bills are evidence that even California, typically our nation’s environmental leader, is caught in a special interest partisan war in which the only victim is our planet and our future.
Both California Gov. Gavin Newsom and Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak have ordered all voters to be mailed an absentee ballot. You can check the status of your voter registration here if you haven’t received your ballot yet. The California registration deadline is Oct. 19 (postmarked). California absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3.
The Nevada registration deadline is Oct. 29 for online registration. The Oct. 6 (postmarked) deadline for by-mail registration in that state has already passed. Nevada absentee ballots must be postmarked on or before Nov. 3. Both states are offering early voting and same-day registration.
Brynne Kennedy, California US Rep District 4
Kennedy lists “protecting our environment” as her sixth issue on her website. Kennedy sides with science in acknowledging climate change and its direct impacts on our region. Kennedy advocates for clean energy investments in the name of economic opportunity and the creation of sustainable jobs in our district, and also advocates for forest management, to both sequester carbon and boost our region’s outdoor recreation economy. Our incumbent congressperson is Tom McClintock, a fervent climate denier. Website: brynneforcongress.com
Elizabeth Betancourt, California State Assembly District 1
Betancourt has worked as a scientist for more than 20 years in resource management, protecting forests, and water sources. Betancourt lists “forest health & wildfire protection” as well as “water” as her top two issues. Betancourt advocates for science-based practices in managing natural resources and mentions local solutions for resiliency and climate change preparedness. Website: betancourtforassembly.com
Pamela Swartz, California State Senate District 1
Swartz presents herself as someone that’s connected to nature and shares a passion for environmental protection. Swartz’s top issues are “fire resiliency, preparedness and recovery” as well as “environment and climate change.” Swartz speaks in favor of incentives and investment in renewable energy technology, both to curb greenhouse gases and to boost the North State’s local economy. Website: pamelaforsenate.com
Jan Zabriskie, Truckee Town Council (two-year seat)
Zabriskie lists “wildfire protection and a healthier environment” as his key issues. He outlines utilization of Truckee’s 12% zoned resource conservation and open lands for local carbon storage by means of improved forestry and wetland practices. He also outlines a preservation plan for the Truckee River riparian habitat, restoration of Donner Lake which is currently threatened by invasive species, and a regular assessment of Truckee’s influence over the forest health and fire safety of surrounding lands by means of improved consultation with the county, district, conversation organizations, recreation groups, and USFS. Website: zabriskie4truckee.com
Courtney Henderson, Truckee Town Council (four-year seat)
Henderson is committed to local environmental stewardship. She advocates for 100% renewable energy resolution, prioritizes efficiency and sustainability, and, bonus, emphasizes trail development for both fire prevention and outdoor recreation. Website: courtney2020.com
Lindsay Romack, Truckee Town Council (four-year seat)
Romack is comprehensive about environmental policy, from eliminating single-use plastic and plastic foam in Truckee to smart growth that protects open spaces. Romack also advocates for an even more aggressive 100% clean electricity commitment timeline than that of the 2017 energy resolution. Website: lindsayromack.com
Hardy Bullock, Nevada County Board of Supervisors District 5
Bullock is running unopposed but rest assured, Bullock understands the threat of climate change and advocates for collective efforts among agencies, landowners, and state and federal resource agencies to protect the district from devastating wildfire. Website: bullockforsupervisor.com
David Diamond, Truckee Tahoe Airport Board
Jeff Bender, Truckee Donner Public Utility District
Bender is a local mechanical engineer and licensed general contractor. His business “focuses on energy efficiency, renewable energy, and mechanical and plumbing design.” Bender advocates for “a balanced approach to environmental and economic impacts of the TDPUD.” Visit facebook.com/Bender4PUD.
Cathy Stewart, Truckee Donner Public Utility District
You may not see Stewart’s name around town as much as other local candidates. Stewart has proclaimed to not be fundraising or spending any money on her campaign. Instead, Stewart leads with community and a focus on renewable energy sources and highest water quality possible. Website: cathystewartfortdboard.com
Vote YES for the TOT tax increase. This will raise approximately $700,000 annually from hotels and short-term rentals to be used for workforce housing, wildfire preparation, and open space protection.
GiveGreen’s Green Candidate Directory is a wonderful directory of candidates across the country that align with climate action and environmental policy. This is a great way to draw attention to climate candidates in states and districts where you may have family and friends. If you contribute to any of these campaigns via GiveGreen, then your contribution will be tracked as a “climate contribution” with the hope of holding the officials accountable for their climate commitments.
CaliforniaLeague of Conservation Voters endorses these California state measures. Protect Our Winters has released a voter guidebook with personalized general election information and federal and state candidate scorecards for top environmental issues. 100% Renewable Truckee is a team of volunteers working to implement energy sustainability initiatives in our town. I appreciate this group’s goals and priorities. STAY TUNED TO
HR 763 Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act. This is a bipartisan climate solution that’s effective, market driven, good for the people, good for the economy and revenue neutral. The bill was introduced to the House in 2019 and likely will be making moves after the November election.
~ Brooke Summers Hume is a local activist, volunteering for the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, supporting nonpartisan climate advocacy and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act (Local chapter: CCL North Tahoe), and with Climate Changemakers where the team just an hour each week to actions that make the most impact. She enjoys the accountability, support, and habit of this weekly hour-of-power.