Environmental Heroes Headline Dems Feb Meeting
Nicole Capretz, Georgette Gomez Featured
Saving our Planet is Theme
On Wednesday, February 1st, ten days into the president Trump era, local Democrats will hear an all star forum discuss the steps we need to take to resist the attack on our climate goals, our clean air and water, and our ongoing transformation to renewable energy sources. Who best to create opportunities and action plans than the Executive Director of the Climate Action Campaign, Nicole Capretz? Or the newly elected San Diego City Councilperson from District 9, Georgette Gomez? Or the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper, Matt O’Malley? Masada Disenhouse of SD350.org will also join our panel, as will Brian Elliott of the Sierra Club. And our moderator will be none other than our friend, and former Exec. Chair of the San Diego Sierra Club, Davin Widgerow.
Why our urgency to sound the alarm and expose and resist what is likely to be in store for the next 4 years in the environmental community?
Per the Guardian: “Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change. None of these transition heads have any background in climate science.”
Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is noted climate change denier Scott Pruitt. And Trump is expected to name Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head the Interior Department. She is noteworthy for claiming that Al Gore “deserves an ‘F’ in science.” And let’s not forget that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is none other than the head of the largest oil company in the world, Rex Tillerson. It’s plain to see that our new President has little regard for ending our dependency on oil, coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuel sources.
La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club serves the communities of Del Cerro, Allied Gardens, San Carlos, the College Area, La Mesa, Mt. Helix, Casa de Oro, Santee and other nearby East County locales. At nearly 300 members, it is one of the largest and most active chartered Democratic Clubs in San Diego County. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month at the spacious La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Dr., just North of University Ave. in La Mesa. Our meetings start with a social ½ hour at 6:30 PM with snacks, desserts and beverages supplied by club members, and then the business meeting and program begins at 7 PM. All members and guests are welcomed!
Our February meeting is the second in our series we are calling Write, Advocate and Resist, 48 months of learning to cope and overcome the already dire Trump administration. Trump’s inauguration coincided with the lowest approval ratings of any modern incoming president. His shocking appointments to executive positions on his staff and in his Cabinet are filled with unqualified, inexperienced and self-serving individuals who have little in common with the people or departments they are intending to lead, a veritable who’s who of reactionary and far right thinkers beholden to the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers.
On the other hand, our Environmental Heroes are long time advocates and scholars, the best and brightest in their fields. Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of as an energy and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the City of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100% clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015. She now serves on the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Working Group, as well as the City of Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission.
Nicole advocates for local and state renewable energy legislation, participates in state administrative proceedings, serves as an expert witness in state policy hearings and is a regular speaker at energy and climate conferences and hearings. Nicole’s duties as Executive Director of CAC include overall strategic and operational responsibility for the organization’s staff, programs, expansion and execution of its mission.
Previously, Nicole served as the Chair of San Diego’s Economic and Environmental Sustainability Task Force for three years while being the Associate Director for Green Energy/Green Jobs at Environmental Health Coalition, an environmental justice organization in National City, California. She has also worked as a policy advisor for the San Diego City Council.
Nicole’s work on San Diego’s Climate Action Plan earned her numerous accolades among which are:
New York Times Top 10 Californians of the Year (2016)
“Voice of the Year” – Voice of San Diego (2015, 2016)
“Best People of San Diego” – San Diego CityBeat (2016)
“Bike Advocate of the Year” – San Diego County Bike Coalition (2016)
“Leadership Award” – San Diego County Democratic Party (2016)
Finalist for San Diego Magazine’s 2016 San Diego Woman of the Year (2016)
Finalist for San Diego Business Journal’s 2016 “Women Who Mean Business” Awards (2016)
Newly elected City Council Representative for San Diego’s District 9, Georgette Gomez, has some serious environmental chops herself. Gomez, a San Diego State alumna, is a native of Barrio Logan and a current resident of City Heights. She was associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is well-known as a community organizer who has fought for a number of environmental issues. Georgette was a very impressive participant on our candidates’ forum at the beginning of 2015, and received the endorsements of the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters, Todd Gloria and David Alvarez among others for her run to replace Marti Emerald. She has spoken out vociferously against downtown special interests. Her campaign revolved around her status as a City Hall outsider anxious to shake up the status quo. She will especially focus on repairing District 9 infrastructure including city streets and lights, address homelessness, create more affordable housing options and increase public safety.
Matt O’Malley is the Executive Director of San Diego Coastkeeper. Matt joined Coastkeeper in January of 2014 as Legal and Policy Director, where he leads the advocacy work of the organization and protects the water bodies of San Diego County by utilizing local, state, and national laws and regulations, and through community engagement. Having represented environmental groups in the federal, state, and local arenas, Matt has experience in areas such as the Clean Water Act and NPDES permits, land use and growth management laws, CEQA, the Endangered Species Act, groundwater, soils, and sediment remediation, and environmental justice, to name a few. Matt currently serves as Legal Committee Chair and Board Member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance, and he is actively licensed to practice law in California, Florida, and Washington State.
Masada Disenhouse is a repeat visitor to LMFDC and founder of SanDiego350.org, a very active climate action advocacy group. 350.org is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. It was founded by author Bill McKibben with the goal of building a global grassroots movement to raise awareness about human-driven climate change, to confront climate change denial, and to cut emissions of carbon dioxide in order to slow the rate of global warming. 350.org takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts-per-million (ppm) of CO2 in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.
Brian Elliott works locally for Congressman Scott Peters but also chairs the Political Committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club. Brian’s start in San Diego Democratic politics came while he worked for the California Democratic Party as the environmental organizer on Congressman Peters’ 2014 re-election effort. He quickly went on to utilize his environmental expertise to advocate for local clean energy as the campaign organizer for Climate Action Campaign, and is now serving in Peters’ district office. Since arriving in San Diego, Brian has been an active member with Sierra Club and the greater environmental community as a volunteer and professionally, focusing on energy, water and climate policy matters.
Moderator Davin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. He earned his BA (Political Science) from Berkeley, and his JD from the University of Wisconsin Law School. Davin was admitted to the California Bar in 2011. He began his law career interning for a Wisconsin Supreme Court justice and advocating for disabled individuals. Until recently, Davin headed the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating Club projects, activities, finances, and administration. He also served as Chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.
La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club is in the midst of our 2017 membership drive. For as little as $30 per year, members enjoy 12 general meetings featuring outstanding speakers and programs, our monthly newsletter, weekly updates of news you can use, special events like the La Mesa Flag Day parade, Octoberfest, and our Party in the Park, and priceless camaraderie with fellow progressives and activists. Join us now to learn more about the current threats to our Democracy and the Future of our Planet. Be sure to visit our website at lamesafoothillsdemocraticclub.com or friend us on our Facebook page.
Linda Armacost, President
Jeff Benesch, VP Programming