IN THE PRESS
OC CANDIDATES INVITED TO PARTICIPATE IN OC CLIMATE VOTER GUIDE FOR 2022 LOCAL ELECTIONS
78 Candidates Have Participated So Far - All Are Invited
Orange County, Calif., Sept. 27, 2022 -- Frustrated at the widespread lack of climate action from Orange County elected officials in response to the greatest threat humanity has ever faced, climate activists are creating the first-ever OC Climate Voter Guide for every OC city council, school board, water board and board of supervisors election. The guide will help voters choose candidates who believe in climate science and commit to local policies that can have a big impact on the climate crisis. The voter guide website is live at OCClimateVoterGuide.org.
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 candidate opinions and voting records on OC city council, school board, water board and Board of Supervisors have never been easily available to voters before now.
To bridge this voter information gap, volunteers sent surveys to hundreds of candidates for every local OC election with questions to gauge their support for key climate policies that are available to them if elected. So far 54 city council candidates, 20 school board candidates, three water board and one Board of Supervisors candidate have completed the surveys (water board surveys were just sent out this week).
Though the volunteers have tried to contact all candidates, many have proven difficult to reach. Candidates who want to participate should contact OCClimateVoterGuide@gmail.com for a survey link to have their answers included in the guide.
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, Lake Forest city council member Doug Cirbo won his 2020 election by 30 votes. Before voting against a key clean energy program in Feb. 2021 over the 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 vote for mayors and city councilors, according to the Who Votes for Mayor? research project by Portland State University. Orange County was not included in the study, but the research shows that 18% of people in Long Beach, 19% of people in Los Angeles and 32% of people in San Diego voted for mayor in the most recent election. The research 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 council candidates were invited to answer yes, no, maybe or no response to questions including:
Do you believe that climate change is a critical issue that requires urgent action by the city council?
Do you support the following critical climate policies?
Create and implement a city Climate Action Plan that is sufficiently-funded, equitable, and legally-binding
Require new buildings in the city to be gas-free and all-electrific
“City policy is climate policy, and the margins in some of these races are smaller than the average class size at any OC high school,” said Tomas Castro, an Irvine resident leading the voter guide’s creation. “If we can get just a small number of people in each city to vote in their local elections based on climate, we can get big climate policy wins.”
City council candidate answers and climate voting records are now available at OCClimateVoterGuide.org along with the surveys sent to candidates and info about big-scale local solutions to the climate crisis. School board, board of supervisors and water board voter guides will be posted to the website by the time ballots arrive in October.