When I decided to enter this race, no other Democrat wanted to run – understandably. The district has historically been a Republican stronghold.
Nevertheless, after months of campaigning, I recently traveled to Sacramento for a candidate’s forum. The day before it began, I visited the offices of every legislator that didn’t take money from the petroleum industry (there weren’t many), and I thanked them for their courage. But sadly, the game is rigged. Money in politics has truly warped our democracy. Limits must be placed on campaign spending, so that voters and candidates can focus on policies and practices, instead of raising obscene amounts of cash. I urge voters to look at the source of a candidate’s contributions as well as their endorsements and voting record. Following the money will give voters a more accurate picture of what politicians truly stand for.
I’ve learned probably too much about the process in the short time that I’ve been campaigning, and unfortunately, our party is just as culpable as the Republican party. The copious lobbying dollars and lack of transparency are ubiquitous in both parties. An example (as reported in Cal Matters.org and later in the San Francisco Chronicle), a group of politicians dubbed “The Mod Squad”. They call themselves “moderate Democrats”, but they’re legislators who’ve quietly pocketed tens of thousands of campaign dollars from petroleum industry lobbyists, then these same politicians worked behind the scenes to gut a portion of climate legislation that their big oil contributors didn’t like. Once that critically needed, yet very inconvenient, section of the bill (SB350) was removed, the “Mod Squad” voted for it, giving the false impression that they were “pro-environment” – even though they’d been well paid to do the opposite.
During my visit to Sacramento, I asked first-term lawmakers from both parties, if they felt they’d had the freedom to vote for bills based on the merit of each bill, or was the pressure to conform to leadership too intense. They said “Oh yeah we can… every now and then.” Corporate influence and partisan gamesmanship are just too pervasive, which so often results in a lack of power to affect the change that needs to happen. To be sure, there are strong, noble and incorruptible leaders among us, but being a lone wolf doesn’t get them very far and the system is not supportive of them.
The obstacles to my political goals were the petroleum industry, stockholder-owned utilities, business-as-usual developers, super PACs, corrupt politicians, people that don’t want to hear about climate change – even though there are sensible, sound and economically viable solutions, a lack of support within the Democratic party at large, and environmentalists who are suspicious of, and burned-out on politicians. That’s a heavy lift, for even the most seasoned and well-funded candidate – of which I am not.
My campaign has been rich in intention, heart, and integrity. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and working with some profoundly good people. However, I don’t feel that I can accomplish what needs to be accomplished within the parameters of the current political system. I do feel that I can be a more effective voice as an advocate instead of a politician. Therefore, I am suspending my candidacy for State Assembly in the 76th District.
My heart, my gratitude and my purpose are with you. I am truly honored and deeply grateful to each of you, who’ve supported me in this campaign, and I will never forget that.
And I WILL continue to be an active and outspoken voice for our environment and our shared progressive goals.