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It’ll be a busy election year for Sacramento County residents. Depending on where you live, you could be voting for a new county representative, city council member, sheriff and district attorney. And those are just the local races.
If you live in the county’s District 5, you’ll be choosing a new representative on the Sacramento County’s Board of Supervisors. Don Nottoli, who has represented the district since 1994, is not seeking reelection.
The district comprises cities like Rancho Cordova and Elk Grove, and spans all the way down to Galt and Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta communities like Isleton.
The area is vast in land and much of its population is centralized in the ever-growing city of Elk Grove.
Courtesy of Sacramento County
That’s likely why the four candidates vying for the seat all come from Elk Grove, which was once among the fastest growing cities in the country.
The list of candidates includes:
- Former Elk Grove Unified School District Trustee Alex Joe
- Cosumnes Community Services District board President Jaclyn Moreno
- Longtime Elk Grove City Councilmember Pat Hume
- Former Elk Grove Mayor Steve Ly
with the four candidates during a climate change-focused forum hosted by the Environmental Council of Sacramento, 350 Sacramento, the Sierra Club of Sacramento, Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
Below are the candidates’ responses to questions about carbon neutrality, homelessness and transportation.
The following answers have been edited for clarity and brevity.
On Sacramento County’s goal for carbon neutrality by 2030
Pat Hume: I think when we set hard deadlines, it puts the aggressiveness of the situation in front of us, which is good as a call to action. But it sometimes causes a rush to judgment before we can examine unintended consequences of certain things. And so one of the things that the county obviously can do to get towards carbon neutrality is going to green energy sources. Solar is the most obvious example of that. But we have a grid that can't even keep up with electrical demands that are put upon it as it exists… And then one of the initial things that we can do is make sure that all of the new buildings coming forward are LEED certified of gold or above and make sure that the fleet is being electrified and working with SMUD and all their carbon neutral goals.
Alex Joe: I would suggest wholeheartedly that the programs that we administer here in the county reflect the needs of the community and have the community as partners in doing simple things. There are a lot of things that we can do in terms of turning water off and lights off and checking our travel routes when we go out and run our errands, planting trees — we have many, many aspects of this problem that we can affect as individuals and then as a community. Support those areas and provide opportunities for our children to see what is required and what they should do to be able to help make progress possible.
Steve Ly: I think one of the biggest offenders is Kiefer Landfill. If you look at it, we can't just bury our trash and hope that it's going to go away. We bury it today, we're going to drink it tomorrow. And so as one of the biggest offenders across the nation we need to start looking at the landfill and explore the possibilities of green energy … We need to look at other countries and see what they're doing. And there are great examples, if you look specifically at Korea and how they're able to do their system and how they're able to deal with their trash is key. The other point that is real important is fleet services, and that is across the board.
Jaclyn Moreno: We know that transportation makes up about 40% of all carbon emissions in this state. And so I think that we won't meet California's carbon goals if we don't reduce the amount of vehicle miles traveled, if we don't reduce the amount of cars on the road. And so I think two areas that we can focus in on to meet those goals would be land use — using land use as a tool to get us closer to meeting California's climate goals by supporting an urban growth boundary, supporting more conservation efforts for recreation and agriculture, and encouraging infill mixed use development where goods and services and transportation are nearby. And then in terms of transportation … I think it's incredibly important that we work together to develop a bus rapid transit plan to get folks moving, to get cars off the road, making sure that ridership is easy, efficient and reliable.
On how the county should help our most climate-susceptible residents, such as people who are unhoused
Alex Joe: The United States is built upon education and opportunity that comes from that education. In this instance, where companies will come into [low-income] areas, they pollute, they take very high privilege in creating problems that result in the sickness that is created through clusters of cancer and myriad other diseases that are difficult to live with and their property thus is devalued and effectively removed from their ownership. And that defeats the practice of growing wealth that can be transferred down to families. Another problem would just be the racism and redlining and other factors that exist within our society that have created problems for individuals of color and other Native Americans and people who are not wealthy to have a restriction built in at birth, often that eliminates their opportunity to thrive.
Jaclyn Moreno: [Senate Bill 1000] required local jurisdictions to complete an environmental justice plan and to include that environmental justice plan as part of the general plan. And I know for District 5, the community of North Vineyard, it was included in this study. As with any equity issue, it's really important to talk to the people who are most affected by the challenges that are going to be coming down the road with climate change. And that means not only including their voices in what potential issues will be coming their way, but also including their voices in the solution. In order to address homelessness, we've got to talk about housing. We've got to talk about siting plans. The city of Sacramento is the only jurisdiction that has a siting plan as of right now. We need to compel other jurisdictions, including the county of Sacramento, to create siting plans and make sure people have a place to go.
Pat Hume: We spent about 200 years with bad behavior, and we've really spent about the last 40 or so trying to recognize that. And “when you know better, do better,” as Maya Angelou says. So I think the number one thing … that the county can do is use planning and zoning effectively. As I always say, the best way to cut down on vehicle miles traveled and on traffic congestion is to put people where they live and where they want to be closer together. I've been working … to try and bring passenger rail to town, to try and extend light rail, to try and work on more frequency and coverage for our transit system, as well as to have road capacity for the electrification of our vehicles, which will still require roads to travel upon.
Steve Ly: When I was mayor, I sat on the air quality board, and one of the things that we did is we had monitoring stations across the county. And part of that is knowing when a certain area is not advisable to actually be outdoors. Not only just that type of approach, but also having ways in which it can be addressed appropriately — making sure and monitoring that the biggest polluters are being kept in check. Now, in regards to the homeless population, or the unhomed population, what really needs to happen is housing first. Across the nation, when you look at communities, if you find the home, that addresses the first issue, and then you can then look at some of the other issues that come along with it — either mental illness, drug issues, the soft skill, the hard skills — that needs to be addressed. And of course, No. 3 is addressing affordable housing across the nation.
On reducing carbon emissions from transportation, which is the No. 1 cause of emissions in California
Steve Ly: The first thing is having a robust public transportation. When I was on the council, we talked, we deliberated on a rapid bus system — building a regional public transportation where you can actually get on a light rail down in the south county and be able to reach the airport. These are things that would no doubt relieve the congestion of the roads and also the pollution. And again, going back to municipalities, I think the municipalities, respectively, in the area really need to be moving in the direction of electrifying their fleets. When I was part of the environmental mayors with the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we talked about that — about leveraging our buying power to be able to get significant discounts on electric vehicles, and that's something that makes logical sense. In order for us to really move in this direction properly, we need to stop talking about it and actually start doing it.
Jaclyn Moreno: Experts agree that we need to reduce vehicle miles traveled in order to meet climate emission goals that are set forth by the state of California. We know that Elk Grove is getting two rail stops, and I'm pleased that those stations are going to be good for moving some people. But the fact is that, one, we need to move more people, and, two, people will still have to drive to those stations, which ultimately will not reduce vehicle miles traveled by much … I think the best bang for our buck will be to create a bus rapid transit plan connecting our regions with clean energy buses. When we have fast and reliable and efficient services, we will use those buses, but not without a comprehensive advocacy program put in place as well.
Alex Joe: Florida has toll roads that extend from Orlando to the Kennedy Space Center. Those toll roads are very clean and efficient, but for an occasional snake or a turtle. They are smooth and very convenient in terms of transporting individuals from point A to point B. To effect similar opportunities here in Sacramento, we do have roads that are secondary to our major highways that could have tolls. We have corridors to build between different parts of Sacramento County. The things that we should be doing in addition to building these corridors is to promote the use of hybrid vehicles and electric vehicles to reduce the impacts. Now, I don't believe that we have to expand to Watt Avenue one more time, and I think that the connections between Rancho Cordova and Fair Oaks should be explored.
Pat Hume: I'm focused on mobility options, and it differs whether you're traveling intra-regional, inter-regional or mega-regional. And we've got to have the opportunity for people to make solid choices on what fits their lives and fits their transportation needs. But the one thing that I will say is that what we're seeing with the electrification of the fleet, that does great things for GHG emissions, but it doesn't do anything for congestion … A vehicle miles traveled, the definition of that is whether it takes you one minute or one hour, that's still one vehicle mile traveled. And so if we are building ourselves into a state of frustration with congestion, we've done great things to improve our air quality, but we've not really improved folks who want to have individual mobility.
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