We are about to enter an unusual political year in California.
For the first time in eight years, we will have the chance to elect a new governor. And unlike the elections since 2006, nobody on the ballot for governor will have served as governor before. In other words, the next governor begins as an unknown.
Sure, all of the current candidates in the lead have been in politics for years and we know something about them and their governing style. But being governor is different from, say, being a mayor or being a treasurer or being a lieutenant governor.
When you are governor, you can set a tone for the entire state. People are listening to you from San Diego to Eureka. And sometimes, as with our current governor, people around the world are listening to you because you dare to act on climate change while our current president fumbles and tweets.
In the day-to-day work that makes a tangible difference in the lives of Californians, the governor gets to promote or kill legislation before and after it clears the legislature, and negotiate a state budget that exceeds $100 billion. California's governor controls major state agencies. The governor appoints heads to those agencies who can have huge or minimal impact, depending on who is appointed, how capable they are, and how long they stay in their positions.
The governor runs the state government of one of the largest economies in the world. It's a big deal job.
At Sierra Club California our volunteer leaders and staff have been thinking a lot about what we want to see in the next governor. This is a conversation we started more than a year ago and that has culminated in a short document you can find on our website (http://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce/sierra-club-california/PDFs/CA_Gubernatorial_Candidates_Essential_Characteristics_2018.pdf) that outlines the five key characteristics we believe the next governor must possess.
In developing this document, we reflected on the current governor and some of the things we like about him and want to see carried on. But we have also reflected on the things about his approach that we think have impeded success in protecting the environment and public health and the best interests of Californians.
We have also thought about what we need now, at this point in history, to make sure this state continues to make progress on environmental policy, and the social justice that is a foundation of that progress.
In a nutshell, we think the next governor should be: -independent of the oil industry; -independent of the tobacco and e-cigarette industry; -committed to the environment as a whole and to public health; -committed to social and environmental equity; and -devoted to transparency, access, and consultation with the range of environmental and environmental justice organizations that represent Californians.
The document says more about each of these points. I urge you to read it.
Sierra Club California is one of the few environmental organizations that makes endorsements for elected officials. We have a methodical approach that is driven by volunteers at every level of the Club in California.
As candidates for governor have declared their candidacy, our volunteers have begun collecting information. At some point, the volunteer committee assigned to assess who to endorse -- or whether to endorse -- will send out questionnaires and interview the candidates.
They'll be thinking about the characteristics on this document (http://www.sierraclub.org/sites/www.sierraclub.org/files/sce/sierra-club-california/PDFs/CA_Gubernatorial_Candidates_Essential_Characteristics_2018.pdf). And more.
We release it now so candidates know what we'll be looking for.
But we release it, too, to give you something to help as you evaluate who you will support for governor.
If there is a key, important characteristic we've missed that you think we should consider, we'd love to know. Send your comments to me at email@example.com and I'll share them with our volunteer leaders.
Sincerely, Kathryn Phillips Director
Thank you for being a part of our work! You may securely donate http://click.emails.sierraclub.org/?qs=1dc07368adaa3919b306e91ebbb617603c488866878eb96aa395bb9cd834c8e64d3a01b5c7412985eaab71d4487f8539e4494cca6fa2b40a1e5e14a2d7a2276a online or by sending a check to Sierra Club California at 909 12th Street, Suite 202, Sacramento, CA 95814.