"Down Ballet Crisis" by Jeffrey Aviña
For the past two months, California has been plagued by record-shattering wildfires. First, the LNU Fire Complex destroyed 363,220 acres of land; now the Glass Fire has destroyed near 65,00 acres across Napa and Sonoma Counties. While the initial cause of the fire is currently unknown, it is undeniable that Climate Change has affected the fierceness and the regularity of fires in the last three years. High winds, high humidity, and temperatures that break records year after year have become a new part of the Northern California climate. The State and Local levels of government are the only ones as of now, in the absence of national leadership, that can lead the charge against the growing Climate Crisis. California Governor, Gavin Newsom, announced last week that all cars and light trucks sold in California must be zero-emission by 2035 to decrease the state's carbon emissions.
In my Napa County community, the city of Napa will have its contentious election between Vice Mayor Doris Gentry, Councilman Scott Sedgley, and challenger Gerardo Martin. The importance of this Mayoral election is paramount to the future of Napa Valley as a whole. Being the seat of Napa County, the Mayor holds the reins to what the Valley becomes in the future.
Doris Gentry, the conservative backed candidate as well as the sitting vice mayor, runs her campaign on keeping taxes low and protecting the increased growth of agricultural land in the Valley. Her campaign website on Facebook has mainly served as a place to post updates to the relevant fires in Napa County and as a constant ad for California Proposition 15. If voted in, Prop 15 would begin to tax Californian commercial and industrial properties based on market value instead of the price of the property when it was purchased; something that Gentry vehemently opposes. On the topic of Climate Change, both her campaign and Vice Mayor pages are lacking any information on her stance. Gentry has also faced much criticism for her stances on COVID, race, and protests that occurred in Napa in early June.
The candidate with the most endorsements and the moderate option for the election would be the Councilman Scott Sedgley. Sedgley has been on the city council for the last six years and has been in service to the people of Napa for most of his life. As stated on his campaign page, the issues he is running on are the local economy, better hiring practices, and confronting the growing problem of Climate Change. Napa County is a Wine and Tourism based economy, meaning that many of the jobs here revolve around agriculture, hospitality, and service industries. While Sedgley has a clear plan for the direction that he wants to take the county, much like his climate plan, it leaves much to be desired. Climate Change is one of the biggest threats that will have the biggest effects on the county for the simple reason that it is getting worse and worse every year. While it is more than what Gentry has, simply playing the part of a leader will not cut it for the years to come when the fires will only get worse and worse.
The final candidate running for Mayor this cycle is Gerardo Martin. Martin is a first-generation American who grew up here in the Valley. Some of his contributions include being a financial advisor as well as being on Napa's small business recovery task force. The issues on his website are substantive and provide a blueprint to how Martin would conduct his Mayoral term. On the issue of Climate Change, Martin would like to focus on Land and Wildlife Preservation, Water Security, and Carbon Reduction by creating more affordable housing to decrease the amount of commuting within the Valley as well as revamping the public transportation in the Valley. Along with initiatives that promote Social Justice and Small Businesses, Martin fills the progressive spot on this year's local ballot.
This year's race is overshadowed by a multitude of different issues. Climate Change, Social Justice and Race Relations, COVID-19, the Presidential Election, and so on. Although local elections are where you will truly see the change in the community. Napa Valley is visited by nearly 4 million people every year both nationally and internationally, what we do here matters. Whether we elect the natural shoe-ins to the position, take a chance on the newcomer, or continue the status quo; what happens here is representative of what happens in every other single county this November.