THIS JUST IN — I received a mailer from the Francis for Mayor campaign this morning. Prominently on the mailer is a picture of Donna Frye and Steve Francis with the quote:

“Steve wants to bring an independent approach to City Hall so we can have the change we need” – Donna Frye, San Diego City Councilwoman.

I have confirmed that Donna made the statement and approved the use of it and her picture. Donna has not officially “endorsed” Steve, but it certainly appears that she believes he is the best choice for San Diego. Rack-up another key environmental leader who is tired of the status quo.

A number of comments have been critical of Steve Francis for changing his positions.

But what are we to hope for if candidates do not demonstrate that they are capable of learning and able to change their mind? People change their minds daily on all sorts of subjects when they receive new information. I certainly do and I bet you do to.

Environmentalists are too often accused of preaching to the choir. In reality, we live for conversion to the cause and education is our tool. We understand that political campaigns are often the best opportunity to get the powerful to listen. While we understand there are limits to such conversions, we also have great experience and a good track record at sorting out the sincere from the merely opportunistic.

In this cycle, the biggest example of this is the Sunrise Powerlink. When Chapter activists read in the voice that both Sanders and Francis supported the Powerlink, they went into action asking that both candidates have technical briefings from technical experts presenting the Chapter’s San Diego Smart Energy 2020: The 21st Century Alternative.

While the Sierra Club does not have single-issue litmus tests for endorsements (we have way too many issues), this issue is so large in its impacts and ramifications for both ratepayers and the environment, we knew going in that no one can really be an environmentalist and still support the Powerlink (contrary to all the greenwashing related to this proposal).

It took two such briefings, but in the end Francis did get it, and now understands why smarter alternatives increase reliability and better protect ratepayers and the environment. The briefing with Sanders has not led to such enlightenment. Sanders’ answer to why he supported the Powerlink without questioning its merits and before the Environmental Impact review was completed, was met with the blunt summary of: “We need more power.” Well, there are many, many ways to achieve that at a way lower cost to the citizens of San Diego. We sadly felt that the real answer is that he simply believes what the usual power brokers tell him without the ability to ask the critical questions required for special interests promoting projects that increase their profits as the expense of ratepayers and the environment.

We also interacted with Francis and his staff on several other key issues including public transportation, protection of our open spaces and global warming.

Over the years we’ve learned that candidates don’t treat you any better after they are elected than they do before. So how the campaigns and candidates interact throughout the process gives us important insights into how they operate.

Francis has proposed a Green Initiative that will improve the environmental quality of San Diego and put us on the list of the world’s greenest cities, where we belong. This initiative includes developing a real plan that will protect our canyons, beaches and natural open spaces from developers; a cutting edge, green, mass transit system for fast, affordable public transportation; stronger green building standards; establishment of a Carbon Neutral Partnership with businesses and environmental groups to fight global warming; and increasing San Diego’s use of renewable energy resources.

Francis has pledged to put the needs of the environment ahead of the needs of big developers. We need to protect the places that need protecting while still moving forward with the right infrastructure that respects the environment. A healthy economy requires a healthy environment and Steve Francis will lead the city in a more sustainable direction. Steve Francis offers us the hope and change that San Diego desperately needs.


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