El Paso City Council decides to keep climate charter as part of May vote

Despite the concerns of climate activists, who just learned a few days ago that the city is considering breaking up the proposed climate charter into eight separate issues on the May 2023 ballot, the El Paso City Council voted 5-3 on Tuesday to move the proposal forward as one measure. .

City Representatives Alexandra Annello, Chris Canales, Art Fierro, Isabelle Salcido, and Joe Molinar voted to keep the measure as one issue, as proposed by petitioners and supported by more than 39,000 El Paso residents, while city representatives Brian Kennedy, Cassandra Hernandez and Henry Rivera voted against.

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“City Council ignored fossil fuel lobbyists and rejected a staff proposal to break up the Climate Charter into eight different clauses,” Mike Siegel of Ground Game Texas, one of the groups responsible for the climate charter campaign, wrote in an email. vote. “We thank the council for its decision. The next step is to approve fair voting language at their next meeting and ensure that voters receive accurate information about this important climate policy.”

Others also welcomed the council’s action.

“We thank the people of El Paso for supporting climate change action by putting the Climate Charter on the ballot, and we thank the city council for ensuring this comprehensive policy reaches voters as a single proposal.” — Ana Fuentes of Sunrise El Paso. , which partnered with Ground Game Texas on the initiative, the statement said. “El Paso can become a national leader in building solar power, reducing pollution, conserving water, and creating climate change-related jobs. We look forward to elections in May.”

For both Canales and Annello, who agreed that voters would better digest the ballot if it was broken into smaller pieces, the decision ultimately came down to the will of the petitioners and the signing citizens.

“Personally, I think this item would have been better the way the staff presented it,” Annello said. “But my personal opinion is irrelevant on this point.”

Later in the meeting, Canales said: “Personally, I also don’t think that bundling all the amendments together … is necessarily better for the success of the proposals. But, like Rep. Annello, I think it’s the city’s ministerial responsibility to put this item on the agenda, and we also have a discretionary role in deciding the language of the vote, but… we have to listen carefully to the wishes of the petitioners.

“If they want us to put it to the vote as a single item, I will support it,” he added. “The fight against climate change is important, the climate does not wait. I think the city needs to take steps… to better address this issue.”

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Giving voters multiple offers allows them to better understand what they’re voting for and gives them the option to reject part of the offer rather than the whole thing, Hernandez said.

“I’m not here to support one or the other… I think this is setting a precedent and we should recognize that as well,” Hernandez said. “Amendments to the city’s charter should be clear to voters.”

Nearly 50 El Paso residents have signed up to appeal to the climate charter council, with overwhelming support for keeping the measure and ensuring it is on the May ballot.

Laurie Marshall, a 73-year-old grandmother who lives in District 1, praised the organizers for doing a “great job” of bringing awareness to the issue.

“I am terrified of the future that awaits my grandchildren here in El Paso…,” Marshall said. “El Paso has the opportunity to create a Climate Department to get creative, use our best innovations to create a city that works for all people. This is the direction in which we must move.”

Sarah Garza noted that her daughter suffers from asthma and, like many other children from El Paso, cannot go outside on windy days because she is afraid to breathe.

At its meeting on January 31, the council is expected to present a resolution to hold elections in May and finalize the wording of the ballots, with February 14 being the final day for the resolution.

Public meetings and educational sessions will take place from February to April, and early voting will take place from April 24 to May 2. Election day is set for May 6th.

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