Sunday, May 1, 2011
City Council Endorsements
I certainly don't speak for all of the conservation/environmental community of El Paso but I wear quite a few hats in that community. I am Coordinator and Convener of Celebration of Our Mountains, recent past President and now Secretary of the West Texas Urban Forestry Council, Co-organizer and Coordinator of the petition to preserve the Scenic Transmountain Corridor, Organizer of the Sunrise Hikers, a Master Naturalist and Vice-President of that El Paso Chapter, Co-chairman of both the City's Open Space Advisory Board and Parks and Recreation Advisory Board. I'm the President of the Newman Park Neighborhood Association and we care greatly about placemaking, walkability and the environment. I have written this blog for several years now and it is the descendant of an earlier blog and e-letter written for many years about local food and farm issues. I have some credentials.
Obviously conserving more of our precious land, developing sustainable water policies, promoting local food and preserving farmland, encouraging eco-tourism, supporting low impact development, attracting clean industries to our City to employ all of our citizens and prevent further brain drain are key areas of concern. The immediate struggle to preserve land along Transmountain Road next to the State Park has been a pivotal issue. The current City Council race is critical because we want representatives who share our values for conservation, preservation and sustainability. There is a real chance that the balance will swing toward unchecked growth, sprawl and development. Because of the infusion of thousands of dollars into the campaigns of Cortney Niland and Ann Morgan Lilly by the developers' PAC, we must elect candidates who care for people, real jobs and a healthy, clean environment in which to raise children, enjoy recreation, and receive the emotional and spiritual benefits of living in this part of the beautiful, natural Chihuahuan Desert with the Rio Grande, Franklin and Hueco Mountains.
Early voting begins tomorrow and continues through May 10. Election Day is May 14.
Elpasonaturally endorses the following candidates for El Paso City Council:
District 1: Lyda Ness Garcia. Very simply, regarding Transmountain she has made it clear that she supports "expansion through Resler but not beyond". She supports widening but also preserving the corridor - elpasonaturally's position all along. I like Ann Lilly personally and think that she is a real lady. However, her campaign has been principally financed by the development community and her "open space" credentials are not as good as she would have us believe in her campaign literature. Lyda listens to the conservation/environmental community of El Paso. Of all the candidates running, her views on all other issues are closest to mine personally.
District 5: Mayela Mejia. None of the District 5 candidates attended the environmental forum. However Mayela's experience at City Hall, her appreciation of small businesses, and her work with leaders such as Steve Ortega, give her the edge.
District 6: Eddie Holguin. This endorsement may surprise many in the conservation community. Eddie hasn't voted with us often but I don't think it's because he is anti-environmental. I will always remember him when a large group of people protested the construction of the border fence behind the Rio Bosque in the lower valley. Eddie walked over a mile carrying several cases of water for the demonstrators. On that day I knew that we had a representative with a big heart who cares about people. He explained at the recent environmental candidates forum that he is all for solar power, just not for making people who are having a hard time making ends meet subsidizing that energy alternative. Eddie cares for people first - especially people on the margins. The environmental/conservation community needs to begin and continue a conversation with Eddie Holguin. This guy is a thinker with a very big heart.
District 8: Ernesto Villanueva. This race is worrisome. Sergio Contreras is also a strong environmentalist; but I'm afraid he and Ernesto will split votes and make it a run-off between the very conservative, Malcolm McGregor, and PAC recipient, Cortney Niland. Although I like Sergio, Ernesto simply possesses more personal and leadership skills for public office in my opinion.