Voting Matters and You Made Your Voice Heard!
Your vote is your voice. The 2020 election was the most important in recent history, with record numbers of people voting. We thank all of Clean Water Action’s members that made sure their ballot went in. While there are a few disappointments, clearly we also had some major victories among the water champions that we endorsed. Here’s an update on those races:
President: Joe Biden/Kamala Harris – Victory!
Despite unfounded claims of election fraud and the Trump Administration’s failure to “concede” the election, election officials have repeatedly praised how smoothly and legitimately the voting process went across the country with Joe Biden the clear winner. Joe Biden will lead the way in restoring critical environmental and public health protections to safeguard our water and communities. After 4 years of unprecedented environmental rollbacks, President elect and and his running mate Kamala Harris’ commitment to addressing climate change and social justice will be critical. To learn more about why Clean Water Action endorsee the Biden/Harris ticket, visit this page.
Congress: Chris Bubser, Congressional District 8 – Defeated.
Newcomer to politics, Chris Bubser ran as a Democrat in a traditionally Republican District and was facing a well-known opponent – Jay Obernolte – who was serving in the state Assembly. While we are disappointed that Obernolte, a Trump endorsee and generally not supportive of pro-environment initiatives, won, Ms. Bubser’s strong message about the need address “the climate crisis and pollution, and advance the development of clean energy jobs and a green economy resonated with a substantial number of district residents, giving her about 44% of the vote. We look forward to seeing what’s next for this exciting candidate.
State Assembly: Rebecca Bauer-Kahan District 16 – Victory!
Congratulations to Rebecca Bauer-Kahan for winning her second term in the State Assembly, serving communities in the East Bay. In her first term, Bauer-Kahan served on the Assembly’s Committee on Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials where she supported a number of key bills. She co-authored SB 1044, Clean Water Action’s bill to stop the use of PFAS containing firefighting foam which will help protect San Francisco Bay and state drinking water sources. She is an environmental justice advocate and has stated that “it is every elected official’s responsibility to enact laws that protect and preserve our environment in order to safeguard our future. I am proud to represent a district that cares deeply about sustainability, conservation, and innovation in battling climate change.” Clean Water Action looks forward to working with her in the years to come.
State Senate: Susan Talamantes Eggman District 5 – Victory!
We are excited to announce that Susan Talamantes Eggman will be moving from her position in the state Assembly into the state Senate. Eggman has long record of public service, first as an Army combat medic. She later served as a member of the Stockton City Council, and on the Delta Protection Commission. Eggman has been a leader in the State Assembly since 2012, including chairing the Assembly Agricultural Committee. As Senator, she will represent communities in San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Sacramento Counties, including Stockton, Modesto, Tracy, and Lodi. This is an environmentally important district as it serves as the gateway between the San Joaquin Delta, San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, and the Gold Country. Susan’s environmental priorities include addressing the serious air quality problems in the district, ensuring that local communities attract green job opportunities from the state’s efforts to combat climate change, protecting local water supplies and quality, and opposing the Delta Tunnels which put both at risk.
Proposition 16 – Failed
Events of this year have demonstrated that racism and discrimination are a continuing reality in our society. Clean Water Action is committed to addressing overt and systemic racism both internally and within our society, and to supporting those fighting for justice and equity. That is why we endorsed Proposition 16, which repeals Proposition 209. Passed by voters in 1996, Proposition 209 was a constitutional amendment which banned affirmative action programs in employment and education in California based on race, gender, ethnicity. Proposition 16 would not permit quotas, but would allow race, gender and ethnicity to be included as a consideration in state and local hiring, contracting and in granting access to higher education opportunities. However, the proposition only garnered 44% of the vote.
Since 1996 California has been a majority minority state, yet women and communities of color are still under-represented in contracting, employment and education in the state. The pandemic has shown that race is still a factor that disproportionately affects communities of color and we see the same disparities when it comes to environmental protections. While Proposition 16 failed, Clean Water Action remains committed ensuring that all people in our state have access to a clean, safe environment in which to work, learn, live, play, and raise families. We are also working internally to ensure that our own staff represents the diversity of the overall population.
Local Elections, Arvin: Mayor Jose Gurrola - Defeated
Mayor Jose Gurrola of Arvin had the courage to stand up to Big Oil in order to protect his constituents from the environmental effects of oil and gas extraction, even when the State Legislature failed to do the same. Sadly, this meant that he was a political target and an infusion of funding later in the campaign thwarted his reelection.
Arvin is a primarily agricultural community in Kern County, 15 miles southeast of Bakersfield. It is easy to ignore; it’s approximately 19,000 residents are primarily people of color subsisting on a median income of about $37,000 year. In 2007, the US EPA listed Arvin as having the highest levels of smog of any community in the United States, and pesticides and fracking has contributed to serious drinking water contamination. Mayor Gurrola, an Arvin native fought back, not only putting Arivn on the national map, but passing a local ordinance to create buffer zones between oil drilling and the community.
Mayor Gurrola’s courage and his commitment to clean water, clean air, and bringing the benefits of a green economy to his city is an inspiration and Clean Water Action and we were proud to endorse him for re-election as Arvin's mayor. Leaders like him are important and we expect to see him overcome this loss and employ his skills and commitment to his community in future.
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