I wanted to surface a position difference that came out at the October 11 Fulfillery forum for mayoral candidates.
Talisha Searcy reinforced that she voted against the city’s 2020 Climate Emergency Response Framework, because the city was unable to quantify the cost of the climate action steps outlined in the resolution, and because she saw insufficient outreach to residents of her ward and other community segments. Jarrett Smith also voted against the framework.
I thought about this post-forum. The framework was merely a statement of intent and had $0 cost itself, beyond implied time and dollar investment in further planning and in advocacy with other jurisdictions. The city will estimate costs (and assess programmatic and equity impact) when we develop actual plans, budgets, and ordinances.
OK, Talisha and Jarrett didn’t vote for the framework, but neither has proposed any city climate legislation outside of the framework. And Talisha hasn’t done any environment-linked outreach to remediate the short-comings she lamented nor pushed for climate-action cost estimates she saw as lacking.
It Gets Worse
I was shocked that the only route put forward by the city (March 2022), to meet its commitment to being net zero by 2035, is the purchase of carbon offsets, “which at current GHG emissions levels would cost at minimum about $757,000 per year.” This is a total cop-out.
At that same meeting, city staff reported, “Development of a comprehensive Electrification Roadmap for Takoma Park is underway. It covers all sectors, including transportation, residential buildings, and commercial buildings. A draft will be complete by the end of April, and a community dialog process will be launched to complete the roadmap.” Status as of October 17, in the words of Takoma Park’s public works director? “There has been no substantial activity on the Electrification Roadmap.”
Myself, I am committed to implementing the steps in the framework and more. I would also revert to the model where the city calls on community knowledge, expertise, and energy in formulating policy and plans. We need to be listening to groups like the Climate Action Coffee, and we need to reach out to and work systematically and intensively with tenant and condo associations, congregations and community groups, and residents and businesses city-wide.
More includes pursuing a city Zero Waste Initiative. As a Committee on the Environment member, I drafted a proposal in 2019-20. Food waste, in particular, contributes 8%-10% of global GHG emissions, and we should be reducing the amount of other waste we produce as well. Unfortunately we weren’t able to get city council buy-in back then, but I hope the next council will move this initiative and other climate action forward.
And more includes stormwater modeling, pilot programs, education, and studies, with development of solutions for both private and public property, as recommended by Takoma Stormwater Solutions, and expanded tree planting, especially planting native trees and other native plants in order to protect biodiversity as advocated by Friends of Native Trees in Takoma, particularly in neighborhoods with less canopy cover and where trees can mitigate stormwater runoff and provide shade to lower street temperatures and air conditioning costs in summer.
More is intensifying and expanding city support and resources for electrification, with a special focus on equity, tapping funding sources such as the Inflation Reduction Act.
I hope my climate position will earn your support for my mayoral campaign, and please share your ideas and continue your own work to address climate change, globally and here in Takoma Park.
An endorsement quote offered by author and climate advocate Mike Tidwell
Seth understands environmental challenges, and he knows how to make local government work. As mayor, he will make Climate Action a top city priority. That is why I’m backing Seth Grimes for Mayor of Takoma Park.
Seth drafted Takoma Park’s polystyrene food serviceware ban and wrote a bill expanding recycling. He worked with activists to ban cosmetic lawncare pesticide use and helped pass a countywide ban. He promoted curbside food-waste pickup for composting and advanced Takoma Park’s environmental sustainability agenda. He has spoken out for fossil-fuels divestment, solar expansion, and watershed and the urban forest protections. My vote is for Seth Grimes for Mayor of Takoma Park.
An endorsement from Tim Male, former Ward 2 Councilmember, 2011-2017
As a three times-elected Ward 2 city councilmember, PhD biologist, former White House Council on Environmental Quality (2014-2017), environmental nonprofit CEO, who led adoption of the youngest voting age in America, I’m:
ENDORSING SETH GRIMES FOR MAYOR
I’m thrilled to be able to endorse Seth Grimes for mayor in the election this fall. In four years on the City Council, Seth led (or supported colleagues in) passage of major policy changes and community investments — covering environmental action, voting and inclusion, community services and revitalization, and more — that made those four years among the most consequential in recent city history. And he did that while stressing fiscal responsibility that kept property tax increases way below the inflation rate.
Seth has articulated a compelling vision for the city’s future: a place that cares for the needs of struggling neighbors. A place taking concrete steps on climate action and housing, reining in recent years’ tax and spending increases, with inclusive government, and with great communication to residents. Seth will be as effective as mayor as he was as councilmember and community advocate and I believe he will be a unifier who will heal divisions and build lasting progressive policies.