By Mary Creasman
Two weeks ago, the Valley Fire blazed across the Japatul Valley, destroying everything in its path. Families were forced to evacuate, animals and wildlife were in peril, and homes were burned to the ground. At the same time, a dangerous heat wave raged on, leading to power shutoffs as people tried to stay cool at home. As residents in San Diego County suffered, dozens of wildfires raged across our state.
While this was happening in our state, and as more devastation caused by climate change is felt across the country, President Trump continues to roll back environmental protections and prioritize polluters who are making the climate crisis worse. We need leaders in Washington who will fight for our future — leaders with a long record of championing issues of environmental justice and with a commitment to fighting climate change. We need Georgette Gómez in Congress.
If you still need proof that climate change and the threat it poses to our lives is real, just look at what’s happening in California. We are suffering from unprecedented heat waves and wildfires. The air became unhealthy as Northern Californians woke up to blood-red skies. Millions of acres have burned and too many people have lost their lives. This is not normal, and we shouldn’t accept it as a new normal.
The majority of people across the political spectrum understand climate change is real, and that we need to take action to prevent more irreversible damage. But even as scientists continue to warn of the dangerous effects of climate change, Washington politicians are not proposing the solutions we need. Now, more than ever, we need leaders who will be bold enough to take action on climate. We especially need leaders who understand that climate impacts our vulnerable community members most and that solutions must center our under-served community members first.
Gómez is prepared to take on this fight in Congress. Before serving as the first LGBTQ Latina president of the San Diego City Council, Georgette was a community organizer for environmental justice for more than two decades. As associate director for the Environmental Health Coalition, Georgette led the Toxic Free Neighborhoods Campaign to keep polluting industries out of our communities.
Now, as president of the City Council she is leading the implementation of the city’s landmark Climate Action Plan. This ambitious plan aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and move San Diego to 100% clean energy. It’s exactly what we need to see on the federal level.
She has an understanding of how inaction can be harmful to our communities, especially to communities of color. She has experienced it first hand growing up in Barrio Logan, where her park, Chicano Park, is surrounded by highways and the air is frequently unhealthy and asthma is on the rise.
Our elected officials need this level of deep understanding on how climate change and pollution affect our health and threaten our futures in order to be effective advocates for the change we need. Gómez is not new to this issue. She knows it, she has worked with the community to propose solutions, she has listened to the people directly affected and to experts, and she has implemented policies to move San Diego closer to a clean-energy future. She has the experience and supports the right policies to create this change at the federal level.
In Congress, Gómez will be committed to addressing the climate crisis by making greater federal investments and working on a just transition to clean energy, modernizing our infrastructure, and improving our transportation system. These bold solutions will not only help address climate change, but also create millions of jobs that will be needed as we recover from the economic crisis caused by this pandemic.
The climate crisis is an existential threat that would have devastating effects on coastal communities like San Diego. We can’t afford to have leaders who are all talk and no action when it comes to this issue. Georgette Gómez will keep doing the work to combat the climate crisis in Congress — that’s why I urge San Diego voters to elect her in November.
Mary Creasman is chief executive officer for California League of Conservation Voters.