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County supervisor candidates speak about declaring climate emergency in Humboldt


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The seven candidates vying for two open seats on the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors weighed in on how they view the severity of climate change at a candidate forum at College of the Redwoods.

Thirteen different community groups asked one question each to the candidates, who were allowed one minute to respond. Each group champions a specific interest in the community, allowing those in attendance to find out where each candidate stands on a variety of issues.

Radio professional and educator Cliff Berkowitz is challenging incumbent Rex Bohn for the First district's seat. Estelle Fennell currently holds the seat in the county's Second district, and she is being challenged by business owner Michelle Bushnell, parent Sean DeVries, retired water manager Rick French and business owner and craftsman Michael McKaskle.

Cooperation Humboldt posed this question to the supervisor candidates:

If elected, will you pledge to support the declaration of a climate emergency in Humboldt County, and if so, what would you do after the declaration to quickly and effectively respond to this existential threat?

Here's how the 1st District candidates responded:

"I like that the county has started their climate action plan. We've hired somebody to just work on our climate action plan. It should be coming to full fruition here," Bohn said. "What we're also going to do is have a citizen's advisory committee to work with someone from each district, somebody from transportation, somebody from agriculture, etc."

"We're absolutely in a climate emergency," Berkowitz said. "We have absolutely got to take action on sea level rise adaptation now. We've got to restore the salt marshes on Humboldt Bay. That is something that I applaud."

Here's how the 2nd District candidates responded:

"I 100% agree that we are in a climate emergency already," Fennell said. "We're looking at offshore wind, and that has got quite a bit of support, but it has to be done properly. It has to be done with all the stakeholders involved, and it has to include all the people who have a say in that."

"I would absolutely issue a declaration of climate emergency," DeVries said. "I would wrap it into a new green deal and talk about income inequality and some of the bigger issues that are affecting us as well. I would immediately seek out state funds and any other funds we can find."

"I do believe that working together and having the knowledge is key to anything when you're working with the community," Bushnell said. "I would say yes, I would endorse that, but I would also have to have people help me with the decisions so that I have the knowledge."

"I personally already declared a climate emergency in my life," McKaskle said. "I started a program which then our CEA took up and called the Public Agency Solar Program. I'm very, very proud of that. Our district is one of the first ones getting our solar panels put on."

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"We are at a crisis point," French said. "We need leaders in the country who don't come forward with a snowball to show that there's not global warming, and we're going to have to be progressive as a county."

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