In an effort to help you make informed decisions during the General Election, ABC Action News has reached out to dozens of candidates running for office. The following statements have been submitted to ABC Action News by the candidate. Every candidate was given the same set of questions. These are their responses in his/her own words.
Name: Douglas “Doug” Rivero
Office: Hillsborough County Soil and Water Conservation District Group 2
Given my education credentials (BA in Environmental Science and MA/PhD in Political Science) and my academic position at St. Petersburg College, I have the political, psychological and research skills necessary to ensure that Hillsborough County’s Soil and Water Commission places science at the forefront of public policy decision-making. With over 10 years of experience teaching at institutions of higher education, I bring the background and energy to promote strong conservation efforts in Hillsborough County.
Why should voters vote for you?
One of the reasons why I am the best candidate for this position is because I have the education and experience necessary to promote strong conservation efforts. I have a BA in Environmental Science from FIU and a MA and PhD in Political Science from FIU. In addition, I served for two years with AmeriCorps Florida State Parks. AmeriCorps is like the domestic Peace Corps and my civilian national service consisted of various environmental conservation projects. Finally, I have continuously volunteered with Tampa Bay Watch and the Florida Dream Center on a variety of environmental conservation projects. For more info: www.dougrivero.com
If elected, what are your top priorities?
My top priorities are to promote farm conservation practices, protect out wetlands and conservation corridors and fight for environmental justice (racial inequality in environmental practices. To accomplish these goals, I pledge work with civic organizations and business groups to develop projects and put pressure on public officials to take actions. I will also push to expand and diversify the 100 Conservation Challenge so that it incorporates a more diverse body of participants.
What are three key messages of your campaign?
Promote Farm Conservation
I pledge to work with farmers, businesses, educational institutions and environmental organizations to ensure that farming practices are sustainable and effectively reduce nutrient pollution/runoff as well as soil erosion.
Protect Wetlands & Plant Trees
Protecting wetlands and Planting trees, shrubs and grasses in our communities are some of the most important things that we can do to promote environmental conservation and mitigate against climate change. Indeed, we must strengthen our riparian zones as they help filter harmful pollutants out of our waterways and protect our groundwater resources. They also provide critical habitat for fish, birds and other wildlife. Trees are also instrumental in holding soil in place and reducing climate change due to their ability to absorb the carbon dioxide.
Fight for Environmental Justice
I am determined to advance conservation efforts in minority communities. Unfortunately, the development and execution of conservation efforts in Black and Latino communities have historically been sub-par. As a result, these communities have suffered and failed to reap the rewards of a cleaner and healthier environment. Further, interdependence requires us to promote environmental sustainability throughout the entire county.
What areas of public policy are you personally passionate about?
The areas of public policy that I am most passionate about are conservation practices, protecting wildlife, promoting renewable energy, fighting for environmental justice, economic inequality and health care.
What motivates you to run for public office?
I am running for this position because I want to give back to the community. I believe that my background and experience aligns very well with the requirements of this position. Promoting economic development, rebuilding our public education system, ensuring a healthy Hillsborough and promoting liberty and justice, which are all important values for effective public policy, all align perfectly with my own candidacy’s platform of promoting environmental conservation, planting trees, promoting environmental justice and involving the K-12 schools in conservation efforts.
Strong and sustainable conservation practices help provide a variety of positive economic benefits to our community. Tourism, fishing and many other sectors in our community are dependent on a healthy ecosystem. There are also many health benefits to promoting environmental conservation, such as reduced respiratory issues and cancer rates. In terms of liberty and justice, my campaign’s value of environmental justice speaks to a desire to ensure that past injustices related to environmental racism are reversed. Finally, with my education and teaching background, I also want to involve the K-12 students in the county’s environmental conservation efforts. Experiential learning experiences that are connected to environmental preservation are some of the best investments that we can make in the education of our children.
What do you believe is the most urgent issue facing the environment and should be done about it?
The most urgent is climate change. It is real and the federal government must take action and promote renewable energy and pass the Green New Deal. However, I believe that Hillsborough County and the cities within it can play a strong role in collaborating with the federal government to advance affordable housing projects, quality health care, environmental sustainability and public mass transit. As the federal government would bring in the resources, it is up to local governments to ensure that their projects and funding align with the Green New Deal. As such, I believe that a Green New Deal Task Force should be implemented. Their charge would be to ensure that all agencies are working in unison re-direct all programs into a path of sustainability and economic justice.