Thursday, July 27, 2017

Steve Fields responds to "Washington Conservation Voters" Questionnaire

Steve Fields responds to Washington Conservation Voters
2017 Municipal Candidate Questionnaire:

Steve Fields:  Please describe what motivates you to run for public office and what or who inspires you?

Throughout both my personal and professional life I have been active in environmental protection, conservation, and sustainability.I am motivated to run for public office by a deep passion to ensure the well-being and sustainability of human life and existence. The most dramatic and important inspiration I received was from my then 6-year-old son, who is now 19. At that time, he was crying in the middle of the night and concerned about polar bears drowning and “his planet burning up and why was no one doing anything about it”. It was at this time I left a corporate position to work in local Government. I am also inspired by sincere and involved people from all over the world who address the issues of protecting our planet and work to create environmental quality along with quality of life. Conversely, I am also inspired by organizations who work against the interests of our environmental sustainability and work to expose or mitigate actions and perspectives that promote environmental damage and create an uncertain future. On a personal level,  I have lead a lifestyle since I was a child that focused on reducing my impact on our environment. I grew up in a home where my parents insisted that we to turn off lights and electrical items when not in use. Recycling was a major part of our lives and when plastic and disposable containers become popular my family minimized there use. I have commuted by bicycle throughout my 40-year professional career. I have supported the Sierra Club, was active in Greenpeace in the 1980s and have purchased numerous Robert Bateman art that supported environmental causes (“Spotted Owls Continuation Generations” for example)

On a professional level, I have worked throughout my career on environmental protection. Examples and Highlights include;

c.       Established a market for solar water heaters in the 1970s in Meridian, Mississippi for a plumbing supply company.
d.      As a business and Government procurement consultant worked with engineering firms on environmental cleanup projects such as Yucca Mountain, Hanford Nuclear Site, and a number of Small Business Innovative Research Grants for the Department of Energy, FAA, and Environmental Protection Agency
e.       Worked in the Executive Office at King County in the Office of Performance, Management, and Budget. Key policy initiatives and work included:
a.       Establishing more efficient Hybrid busses
b.      Improving transportation planning
c.       Air quality and climate change
d.      Hazardous waste
e.       Waste and Recycling
f.        Water and Land
g.      Flood Control Zone District
h.      Watershed Strategy
i.        Social Justice Initiative
j.        King County Parks
k.      Annexation initiative
l.        Office of Emergency Management and Business Continuity
m.    Facilities Management and energy efficiency
f.        As a Candidate for Mayor of Redmond in 2015 I worked and consulted with Sustainable Redmond to better understand the issues facing Redmond and in particular where current practices and decisions with the environmental health of the Redmond community

Environmental Issues - Essay

Steve Fields:  The issues below affect all of our communities. Please write one to two paragraphs about the following six issues facing our environment.

a.       Climate change, water pollution, and air pollution disproportionately affect communities of color and people with lower incomes. What is the relationship between public health, equity, and pollution in your jurisdiction and what policy solutions will you advocate addressing these inequities?

Although Redmond is not a city as vulnerable to Climate change as cities with large communities of color and people with low incomes living in coastal areas or near large water systems, there will be significant impacts in Redmond from climate change. Like any community the poor or people with less means, will be much more vulnerable to the impacts of powerful storms, flooding, wind damage, deadly heat waves, or economic or social disruption. The city needs to prepare and adapt now. Adding staff positions to help the city prepare for changing weather patterns and update our land use and building codes and policies is essential. Additionally, we should broaden and prepare our city emergency response and our regional partnerships. For example, working with the school districts will help establish tools to reach our non-English speaking community members and help educate and prepare them for the right actions in the event of an emergency.

Robust alternatives for transportation are critical for the socio-economic mobility of lower-income individuals. By investing in local transportation infrastructure, we can open up economic opportunities for people with lower-incomes while reducing overall carbon pollution; thereby, demonstrating the interconnectedness between the environment, economic justice, and public health, and that we can address distinct yet related problems simultaneously. In addition, our citizens are forced into carbon-polluting transportation options, as we far less bus service than we had envisioned for now.

b.      What do you see as the relationship between your local economy and the environment?

Redmond is city where the success of the local economy and the health of the environment are essentially linked by the nature of their common need. The natural beauty and health of Redmond’s environment is a primary attraction for employers and employees. People want to live here and enjoy the quality of their life as defined by the beauty of a healthy eco-system including trees, clean air and water, parks and trails. They take civic pride in the fact that Redmond historically has been good stewards over healthy wetlands, an abundant tree canopy, and protected water ways that support a vibrant fish and wildlife habitat. And investors and businesses want to stay or locate in a place where people want to live. In addition, Redmond as a destination for visitors and tourists is enhanced by keeping Redmond’s natural beauty and world class park system maintained and healthy. The people and businesses who reside here want a city government that manages growth with the understanding that the economy and the environment are not conflicting priorities. Conservation ordinances and enforcement of these on individual site plans may increase the cost to some projects by constraining actions allowed on new development. However, this investment pales in comparison to the economic benefits that are received over many years. These benefits can include;
1   --  Reduced maintenance costs on keeping green infrastructure, ( ie. groundwater recharge, storm-water management, pollutant filtration, and soil and water conservation)
2    - Reduced costs on tree maintenance.    Healthy native trees require less costs to keep alive then non-native, or further loss to trees that were intended to satay when the eco-system is disrupted
3    -  Future costs to the community to mitigate damage from landslides, or other consequences from an unhealthy natural environment.
c.       Your community is an integral part of a complex watershed. What will you be considering as you legislate to ensure your communities’ water and waterways are protected? 

This is an important moment in Redmond's history to determine how our city grows. Redmond should establish the right positions within city staff with the credentials and skills to oversee a City Urban Forest Plan implementation, Tree Retention, Sustainability efforts, Climate Change Response, and overall Environmental Planning efforts. We need a Wetland Scientist/Stream & Wildlife Biologist position that reviews critical areas studies for accuracy, reviews development applications for compliance with critical areas regulations, relays related regulatory requirements to developers and applicants, engages in city restoration efforts, and tracks environmental mitigation projects in the city. The strength of these positions would raise our environmental expectations with our developer partners and help educate and assure our community as we grow.

As a partner with many water departments, local governments in King County need to take up the charge to be better stewards of our water supplies and start educating the public now on substantial cutbacks to water usage.

Wastewater is an area where we need to be working more collaboratively within the region as the problem of new development, water runoff pollution, cleaning, and neutralizing contaminated water all warrant a uniform method of compliance, returning water to a usable state and perhaps finding efficiencies and funding to be able to move faster in protecting our waterways.

Every year we don’t do more to contain the water runoff pollution, the more our water and waterways will deteriorate. I will seek more involvement at the city level in addressing storm water runoff.
d.      Nearly half of Washington’s global warming pollution comes from transportation. In your role as an elected official you will often have to make decisions on infrastructure. How do you see infrastructure decisions impacting your communities’ ability to reduce its dependence on single occupancy vehicular traffic?

It is essential for us to invest in infrastructure in a way that shows our community we’re serious about reducing our focus on single occupancy vehicles. As an elected official, I will champion the expansion of transit options and work to build sufficient infrastructure so that forms of transportation beyond single-occupancy vehicles are demonstratively practical. Looking ahead, I will use my position to lead by example, in educating younger generations – i.e. up-and-coming commuters – on the merits of reducing our dependence on single occupancy vehicles. In addition, Redmond business leaders are among the most cutting-edge technology advocates that could be used for new ways to decrease the use of fossil fuels. An active partnership with our city government and environment-minded business leaders could very well produce the ideas and products that would help on a world-wide level.

As my personal history shows, I have been a lifelong advocate of a healthy lifestyle, and what I’ve learned through championing recreational activities is that awareness of transportation alternatives often comes from a health-conscious lifestyle. Some clear examples are bicycling and running/walking. People who develop strong ties to these activities view them as viable alternatives for their daily commute. I, for one, have always been an avid bicycle enthusiast, and for the majority of my professional career, bicycling was my primary form of commute.

Moreover, using one alternative can often lead to one appreciate others options as well; for instance, riding my bike to and from my work in Seattle required me to also take the bus, which in turn, gave me a deeper appreciation of bus lines.

 e.       How can your jurisdiction ensure the protection of citizens against the increased threats posed by moving more oil and coal through our state by trains, pipeline, and vessels?

We can address it directly and before the issue clears the State’s review and any other Environmental Impact Stages of its scrutiny. I will be a strong opponent of uncovered coal trains, oil being transported on our waterways, as well as our roads and rail lines. Concern for the community’s health is just not demonstrated, resources for regulation and accident response are insufficient, and there’s an obvious need for a clear (and better) path for environmental sustainability laid out to public.

From the way things are currently progressing, the transportation of oil and coal through our state is being done in a way that is unsatisfactory for those of us who have the highest stake. The way we’re currently handling this issue is not representative of Redmond’s socially conscious identity, and so I will suggest city resources to assessing the local impact of these activities and heavily advocate for higher protective standards, while simultaneously pressing the urgency of developing sustainable alternatives. I will take every opportunity to publicly advocate against moving more oil and coal through our state. I believe this is a matter of public safety in addition to environmental preservation. I will take every opportunity to legislate against increasing oil and coal transportation through our state. 

f.        Climate change is the biggest environmental challenge of our time and all levels of government can be leaders at addressing this issue for our state and nation.  As an elected official, what do you see is your role in helping to tackle climate change?

Cities of all sizes are at the heart of the chance to both mitigate climate change and prepare for the impacts that are coming. Local and city governments have the best opportunity to change human behavior by building communities that have more energy efficient buildings, homes, and transportation systems. 

We have got to keep our pressure on our national and state legislators in coming up with a tax structure that reduces carbon pollution into our air. We must ensure a well-informed public about the choices or complexities of any of these more progressive ideas to limit carbon in our air supply. Civic engagement and education is needed before we can move to a point of action. The biggest impact that I can make as an elected leader in mitigating climate change is to provide the leadership that restores trust and confidence with the people who live here, so that Redmond can better participate in the global community as a leading partner to meet this global challenge. As part of this effort, it is essential to restore authenticity and strength to City indicators and measurements in the context of Climate change and building a sustainable City. 

I would welcome options for creating an action plan for Redmond regarding carbon neutral goals that involve everyone. It would be my pleasure to assemble a multi-generational advisory committee to come up with ideas, materials and an overall program to breakdown the complexities and allow everyone to learn why carbon neutral is important and how we can live that way – very similar to how we all learned to recycle.

Yes / No Questions
·         Do you acknowledge that human actions are a contributor to climate change?
Circle one:             Yes

·         Would you be open to representing your community on leadership committees to try to address threats to our environment at the local level, such as the Safe Energy Leadership Alliance (SELA)?
Circle one:             Yes

Your Campaign

Preserving the environment is pivotal to why I am running for a Council Position in Redmond. Many People feel we have lost our environment-first attitude in managing growth, and I can cite far too many cases where residents and small business-owners have been adversely affected by the city’s lack of concern for environmental sustainability. Development projects in Overlake, Downtown, and North Redmond continue to be completed with priority for developer convenience over our neighborhoods and their surrounding nature. In addition.  we need to develop much stronger and more forward thinking local Government. It has become clear that our Federal Government is on the verge of breaking down. The recent election cost over $6B with the result of a much more divided and less responsive Federal Government. Our environmental protection, public health, transportation, social justice and education needs will continue to look more toward local government to resolve as our Federal Government continues to be ineffective and indifferent.

-- Excerpts from Steve Fields' responses to Washington Conservation Voters Questionnaire. 

Editor's Note:  Washington Conservation Voters sent their questionnaire to all candidates this June.  Steve Fields and Manka Dhingra are the only Redmond candidates I know of who published their responses. I am e-mailing all Primary and General Election candidates to invite them to send their responses to Redmond Neighborhood Blog for posting, should they wish.  Redmond Neighborhood Blog is not endorsing candidates. 7/28/2017

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