By Narima Lopes & Cori Wilbur
The foundation of progressivism is about progress in social reform based on the idea that advancement in science and technology, economic development and social organization are vital to the human condition.
“I think I do represent what many people feel,” asserted the incumbent Mayor of Encinitas, Catherine Blakespear. “They feel a desire to help others and to improve the environment but they also want their city to be fiscally responsible,” asserting that Encinitas is both financially well-run and progressive in its policies, and focusing on what can be done locally to handle climate change.
“To me, the core of being progressive is an environmental commitment, which is one of the reasons our climate action plan is a central organizing document for the city’s actions,” she vocalized in a follow-up conversation. “I think that as a coastal community, people are more environmentally-oriented, no matter what politics they identify with at the national level.”
In 2018, Encinitas’ Climate Action Plan set seven strategies to curb greenhouse gas production. In 2019, the entire city council voted to establish a Community Choice Energy program; Encinitas also joined San Diego Community Power.
As of this year, four out of the 19 actions have been completed and another 14 are in progress.
Even during the current state of the world, improving the environment is still very much on local officials’ minds, regardless of a bleak, budgetary future. Blakespear acknowledged that financial uncertainty brought on by the coronavirus may affect when improvement projects will be done; however, she averred that this obstacle will not prevent progress.
Blakespear, and the city council of Encinitas, are also working fervently to solve the growing issues surrounding local homelessness and affordable housing within the community. That is, without bankrupting the city.
“In some ways, progressives don’t talk enough about that fiscal responsibility part, but nobody is in favor of fraud, waste or abuse.”
She stressed the necessity to find a balance between fiscal responsibility and social justice but added that doing something to help members of the Encinitas community in need is also important. Putting that energy out there is how progress is made.
Since instating a safe parking lot in the area 3 months ago, Blakespear commented that numerous individuals have found a use for the structure. These parking lots help prevent those on the verge of homelessness from residing on the streets.
Much to the chagrin of naysayers, who believe giving the homeless a place to find shelter will create a ‘welcome mat’ for homelessness and add to the existing problem.
“Some people do think that if we make it ‘easy’ to be homeless by providing for them that people will make that choice,” she commented as to why some are against helping the homeless. “I just do not, in any universe, see that people would make that choice when they have other options.”
Ultimately, progressivism is about addressing the problems that face us head-on and actively thinking of efficient ways to confront those challenges.
“Giving the homelessness crisis a voice, that’s the bully pulpit that the elected officials have to speak to the issue,” she affirmed. “Homelessness is a problem and we need to be working on it, instead of pretending it’s not there.”
Narima Lopes & Cori Wilbur are members of Encinitas and North Coast Democratic Club.
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