IN THE PRESS
OC Climate Voter Guide Enables Climate Voting in OC Local Elections
100+ OC candidate climate opinions and voting records now available as handy voter guides at OCClimateVoterGuide.org
Orange County, California, Oct. 4, 2022 – Frustrated at the lack of meaningful climate action by Orange County elected officials, climate activists have created the first-ever OC Climate Voter Guide. The guide includes survey responses and climate voting records for hundreds of Orange County city council, mayoral and school board candidates and will include water board and state legislative candidates by the time ballots drop in October.
According to the United Nations, cities are the cause of and solution to climate change. More than 70% of climate emissions come from cities, and voters across the political spectrum want climate action from their local elected officials, but don’t know candidate opinions and voting records on climate issues.
To close that information gap, a team of volunteers sent every local candidate a survey to gauge support for key climate policies and investigated candidate voting records on climate issues. Candidate answers and climate voting records are now available in handy guides by city at OCClimateVoterGuide.org.
All candidates were asked whether they believe that climate change requires urgent action by the body they are running for as well as specific questions regarding climate policies available to them if elected. City council candidates were asked to indicate their support of policies including Climate Action Plans, gas-free buildings and public transportation. School board candidates were asked about measures including science-based climate education and making school facilities and buses all-electric. Candidate surveys are on the website.
The volunteers say that if even a small number of people voted based on climate, it would have a big impact because OC city candidates who oppose climate action often win by very slim margins. For example, in 2020 Lake Forest city council member Doug Cirbo won his election by 20 votes. Before voting against a key clean energy program in Feb. 2021 over the strenuous objections of dozens of climate activists, Cirbo said that climate action from the city was not necessary because of emissions from China.
In local elections across the United States, fewer than 15 percent of eligible citizens turn out to vote for community leaders like mayors and city councilors. Research shows that in the most recent election, just 18% of people in Long Beach and 19% of people in Los Angeles voted for mayor. The study also found that voters in local elections tend to be older and more affluent than the population at large and less likely to be people of color.
“City policy is climate policy, and the margins in some of these elections are smaller than the average class size at any OC high school,” said Tomas Castro, the Irvine college student leading the voter guide’s creation. “If we can get just a few people in each city to vote in their city council election based on climate, we can get councils that will vote for climate policy.”