Climate change polarizes an election in Ojai

Ojai, California is a little town with a lot of big opinions. This fall an election between a long-standing incumbent and a self-educated water wonk has stirred up a good deal of controversy. Here’s my attempt to report on the issues for the Ventura County Reporter. My focus was to give the candidates a chance to speak to policy:

I thought both explained themselves well. Here’s the “nut graph” for challenger Angelo Spandrio:

“I think climate change is probably a factor,” Spandrio said. “If you look at our history, we have never had under 10-12 inches of rain in a year for six years straight before this drought [from 2011 to 2016]. We had a better-than-average year in 2017, but this year we were again back in the 10-12 inches range. This could be the first year of another five-year drought. I would really like to see Casitas plan on more of a worst-case situation than a best-case situation.”

And here’s the incumbent Mary Bergen, trying to balance costs vs the need to find water sources:

“There is no magic wand out there,” Bergen said. “If there were some magic, cheap, affordable solution, we would have done it. This is not to say anything bad about Angelo; it’s just that he’s beginning to learn that it’s not easy.”

And here’s the picture of the diminishing Lake Casitas, courtesy of Andy Gilman of the Ojai Chautuaqua.

Oy. Seems that climate change challenges democracy at a fundamental level.

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