On Sunday, February 23, Democratic candidates for Nita Lowey’s seat discussed environmental issues facing Congressional District 17.

Eight Democrats vying for Nita Lowey’s Congressional seat joined over 100 attendees at Stony Point Center to discuss their plans to address environmental issues facing the district and the nation.CD17 7467

Candidates in attendance were Catherine Borgia, David Buchwald, Asha Castleberry-Hernandez, Evelyn Farkas, Allison Fine, Mondaire Jones, Catherine Parker, and Adam Schleifer.

The forum was moderated by local activist Courtney M. Williams, PhD, cofounder of Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG).

Candidates answered questions on how they would address local issues at the Federal level including Rockland’s water woes and the failure of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to properly address community concerns. They also expressed unanimous support for the Green New Deal and shared their plans for how to move the nation rapidly to 100% renewable energy.

Vanessa Agudelo, City of Peekskill Common Councilmember, represented the Peekskill NAACP, asking candidates what they could do in Congress to protect the health and safety of environmental justice communities.

Berenice Tompkins, a member of the youth Sunrise Movement, asked the candidates if they would sign the Sunrise Candidate’s pledge to refuse donations from the fossil fuel industry. All candidates agreed, with several signing on the spot.

Jennie Sunshine spoke on behalf of Indivisible Yorktown asking about protection of wildlands from extractive industries like logging, mining, and drilling.

The standing-room only crowd applauded unanimous support for the Green New Deal, a national fracking ban, and support for the U.S. re-entering the Climate Paris Accords. As for the question of halting all new fossil fuel infrastructure, Assemblymember David Buchwald was alone in his refusal to commit to such a measure

The forum was co-sponsored by grassroots organizations from Westchester and Rockland Counties: Westchester for Change, Rockland Goes Green, United for Clean Energy, Safe Energy Rights Group (SEnRG), Stop the Algonquin Pipeline Expansion (SAPE), IPSEC - Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition, Indivisible YorktownNY, Stony Point Center, CD17Indivisible, Healing and Protecting Our Land Together – A Call To Prayer, Walkabout Clearwater Chorus & Coffeehouse, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Rockland Citizens Action Network, 350 NJ-Rockland, CCoHOPE Indivisible, NAACP-Peekskill area Chapter, Indivisible Rivertowns, Indivisible Westchester, Rockland Sierra Club, Sierra Club Lower Hudson Group, NY, Explore WESPAC, Coalition to Prevent Westchester Airport Expansion, Mothers Out Front-Rivertowns.

The forum was fully accessible and included ASL interpretation and ACCESS area reserved for those with disabilities.

Link to Dropbox with video and photos of the forum: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/yp1n4vo5ah4y867/AADoCEFQ70Y3-q7FchkqXhYga?dl=0

Link to Facebook Livestream: https://www.facebook.com/SEnRGorg/videos/1538963219592753/

Quotes from the Candidates:

Asha Castleberry-Hernandez: "My aim as Congresswoman of District 17 is to lead a thriving citizenry that is safeguarded from all of our current day challenges spanning the societal and environmental spectrum. Designing and supporting equitable frameworks that my community can access and afford is a top priority. Fostering initiatives that showcase the talents from people across demographics is also key in my envisioned process. Tapping into the rich perspectives of all the cohorts under my watch will allow me to galvanize my district and extend their brilliance and needs to the forefront. Climate Change does not discriminate, and neither should we."

New York Assemblymember David Buchwald: "Our Lower Hudson Valley environment faces pressing challenges, from addressing the threat of the climate crisis to ensuring that the shutdown of Indian Point is done responsibly,” said New York State Assemblymember David Buchwald. “It’s important that voters in New York’s 17th Congressional District have the opportunity to hear from the different candidates about their record and vision if elected to Congress. I’m proud to have co-sponsored New York’s version of the Green New Deal and helped stop the federal government from turning the Hudson River into long-term parking for oil barges. In Congress, I’ll keep on fighting for the Lower Hudson Valley – bringing real science back to the EPA and combating the climate crisis."

Allison Fine: "I’m excited to have a dedicated environmental forum. Climate change is the existential crisis of our time and how we treat our planet and where we go from here is a crucial test for leaders. I am looking forward to presenting my ideas and listening to the community at this forum."

Adam Schleifer: "I am thrilled to participate in this urgent discussion about our most basic responsibility as parents, policymakers, and citizens: how to be good ancestors and leave a habitable, healthy earth to those that follow."

Dr. Evelyn Farkas: "From combatting fossil fuel corruption in Ukraine to overseeing disaster preparedness in Southeast Asia, my career has made it clear that environmental sustainability and national security are inseparable. Unfortunately, too many lawmakers look at climate change as simply an ‘environmental issue.’ It’s not. It is a national and global security issue, a social justice issue, an economic issue, and a public health issue—and I am eager to bring this perspective to Washington."

Mondaire Jones: "I am so grateful that we are able to have a forum completely dedicated to environmental issues, as the environment is the number one priority in my campaign. If we do not have a planet to inhabit, none of the other stuff matters so much. I have been vocally advocating for a Green New Deal since I announced my campaign and believe we cannot take half-measures in our fight to avert climate catastrophe."

Catherine Borgia: "Climate change is the most important 'long emergency' of our time. We owe it to future generations to have a full, frank discussion of how to act quickly before it’s too late."

Catherine Parker: "Climate change is the most pressing issue of our day because it encompasses so many other issues- housing, healthcare, social justice, good jobs, immigrations, and others. We need to fight this as ware- policy, incentives, innovation, and a deployment of resources. If we continue to do nothing we will have squandered our children’s future."