This upcoming election presents an interesting window into the mindset of citizens heading into mid-term elections here in Santa Barbara and in cities and towns across the country. In the face of such deep dysfunction and division at the national level, many have turned a focus to local action, as they should.
Perhaps our biggest humanitarian and national security crisis (beyond the obvious crisis posed to the environment) is the threat posed by climate change — or better yet climate volatility or instability as it’s been reframed recently. Many focus on the large responsibility of nation states and the global community to respond to climate change and overlook the sizable role cities, counties, and states will play despite the current administration.
Many of us are aware of Santa Barbara’s leading role in the global environmental movement following the devastating 1969 oil spill. Many of the figures of that movement remain active in communities, sitting on boards and leading organizations. They are part of a network that contains the institutional memory and experience required to guide the younger generations forward.
One such leader is Hal Conklin and he’s come out of quiet retirement to lead Santa Barbara forward. Hal was a leader and mayor in Santa Barbara, albeit during a different time. However, he has the temperament, political skill, and vision to build coalitions and propel Santa Barbara back into a leading role to offer scalable city-based solutions to climate change — solutions ranging from affordable housing to innovating a new renewable energy and transit system.
Hal was encouraged to run at this pivotal time by the generation that fought alongside him and protested the Vietnam War, started Earth Day, and supported our shared fight for civil rights in this country. I should mention now I am a millennial and Hal supporter because I believe we as young people early in our careers must seek a partnership with our elders who have experienced tough fights before. We must learn from these experiences and offer our fresh ideas and perspectives. Our experience is limited but the challenge posed by climate change is tremendous.
If you want to see a vibrant future for Santa Barbara with a bold vision that we can all be proud of, Hal is the clear choice for mayor. Now tell a friend, and mail in your ballots!