Kamala Harris, the Democratic nominee for state Attorney General, attacked Proposition 23 on the November ballot as “a direct attack on our health and safety” during a day of campaigning in Santa Barbara.
Harris said the initiative, which would indefinitely suspend California’s landmark greenhouse gas emissions law, posed not only an environmental but also an economic threat to California, because it would disrupt the creation and growth of green businesses established to provide alternatives to fossil fuel and energy sources.
“We need our economy to create green jobs,” she told reporters at a press conference at Shoreline Park with offshore rigs in the background, the traditional tableau for visiting politicians in Santa Barbara.
The district attorney of San Francisco, Harris faces Republican Steve Cooley, the DA of Los Angeles, for attorney general. The race offers sharp contrasts in both style and substance, matching a 45-year-old liberal, African-American woman from the Bay Area and a 63-year-old conservative white male from Southern California. A July Field Poll showed Cooley leading 37-34 percent, a statistical tie, with nearly one-third of voters undecided.
During her day here, Harris met with local business leaders over breakfast, attended a luncheon organized by Democratic fundraiser Nancy Koppelman, and appeared at another fundraiser sponsored by the Santa Barbara Women’s Political Committee at the home of former supervisor Susan Rose.
Harris said that as attorney general she would make enforcement of environmental laws a priority, and would assign lawyers from her office to serve as “circuit riders” to assist local law enforcement agencies in prosecuting polluters. “We think of crime … as a robbery or a car burglary,” she said. “The crimes that are occurring against our environment are just as imminent.”
She was accompanied at the press conference by Assemblymember Pedro Nava, who ran unsuccessfully against Harris in the Democratic primary for attorney general, but has since endorsed her. Harris ducked a question about offshore oil drilling, and whether she would support the controversial Tranquillon Ridge project off the coast of Santa Barbara, saying only that she favored a “balanced” approach. She added that she understood T-Ridge is a “prickly issue” locally, and deferred the question to Nava, a fierce opponent of the project, who swiftly denounced it.
A report on The Independent’s exclusive local interview with Harris will appear in next week’s print edition.