Elizabeth Kucinich
Paul Wellman

Environmental lobbyist Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich, spoke at a forum Tuesday afternoon at Faulkner Gallery to address global climate change issues. The forum was hosted by Global Warming Solutions Group (GWSG), an area advocacy group aiming to make climate-related impressions on Santa Barbara city’s developing General Plan, which shapes the city’s growth over the coming years.

GWSG’s Chairperson Katie Mickey opened the forum by summarizing the recommendations for the General Plan, citing “sustainability, safety, localization, affordability, transforming our wastes into valuable resources, and preserving our commons” as core values.

Thoroughly sourced and researched, 27 recommendations were outlined in the proposal to the General Plan by GWSG, including implementation of safe bike pathways and solar and wind power technologies throughout the city. “Our actions have a huge impact on the whole,” said Mickey, who attested that if global climate continues to change, the infrastructure of Santa Barbara will be greatly affected by changes in sea level.

“The government is an engine for sustainability,” Kucinich told to an audience of approximately fifty attendees, many of whom wore pins supporting her husband’s presidential bid. She also addressed solutions to climate change, such as educating children on environmental issues, decentralizing energy sources, and eliminating long-distance transportation of food. “Let’s ask first for supermarkets to purchase locally and distribute locally,” she said.

Kucinich also addressed campaign contribution. “My husband Dennis Kucinich has never taken corporate money,” she said. “We the people have far more power than [corporations] do.” In her speech, Kucinich highlighted individual support for campaigns through minor contributions as a viable solution to corporate contribution. “What we need is public financing of elections.”

Mickey said in a phone interview that she was delighted to have Kucinich speak at the forum. “We desperately need national leadership to take on issues of global climate change,” Mickey said. The former co-chair of the Ventura Kucinich Campaign, Mickey related many of the problems she’s dealt with for which the GWSG recommends solutions, such as the traffic corridor between San Luis Obispo and Oxnard. Mickey said that widening Highway 101 does not support public mass transit and will instead only increase carbon emissions.

According to Plan Santa Barbara, over the next two years the City will be evaluating housing, transportations, and environmental policies by “sponsoring workshops and public forums to gather input from the community on future growth and development.” Adopted in 1964 as a California State Government Code, the General Plan is a means for Santa Barbara to adopt new methods in dealing with changes in the economy and environment.


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