By Richard Ram
At our club's executive board retreat this past weekend, I was selected by my peers to serve as the interim president of San Diego County Democrats For Environmental Action. I'd like to thank my fellow board members for their confidence in me, and their commitment to working with me in the ongoing process of building our club into a powerhouse of passionate advocacy for environmental issues, and their commitment to working with Democratic candidates and elected officials who will champion those causes.
I would like to also recognize and thank our immediate past president Cody Petterson for his tireless dedication in organizing our club meetings, doing the critical outreach to elected officials and allied organizations, and exemplifying service and leadership in ways that far too often have gone unnoticed.
If you've not gotten to know me, I've been a member of the club since 2015 and began my service on the executive board in 2016 – first as director of communications, and more recently as the club's V.P. for programs and outreach.
My youth was spent in Bakersfield, California, in the southern San Joaquin Valley, where I became acutely aware of the public health impacts of pollution from the surrounding oil fields and refineries, and the devastating cancer clusters that arose among children of farm worker families living near fields where they were exposed to widespread spraying of pesticides. I saw that these industries gave heavily to local Republican politicians who were completely indifferent to issues of environmental justice and the trashing of our planet, even as the residents of their districts were getting sick and dying.
As I evolved into an environmentally-concerned citizen and advocate, I also became aware of how much the meat and dairy industries pollute our air and waterways, contribute heavy amounts of greenhouse gases, inflict unspeakable violence and suffering within the walls of factory farms, and use the government to lobby for ever-increasing consumption of their products by a population where the top causes of death and medical expenses are from degenerative diet-related diseases. I've been a vegetarian since 1991 and vegan since 2012, and you will often hear me speak on issues related to animals and humane legislation.
While I've been a frequent contributor and member of various environmental and social justice organizations over the years, my first foray into any political organization was with the formation of a local San Diego group supporting former Vermont governor and presidential candidate Howard Dean in 2003. This was motivated by my disgust with the Bush-Cheney regime's determined, and ultimately unpopular, unilateral war in Iraq, and Dean being (at the time) the only candidate with any momentum speaking out against the war.
I continued attending joint meetings of Democracy for America (DFA) and Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) for several years, where I first got to know many of the members involved with this club. I'm a graduate of San Diego State University with a degree in communication, I work in government services assisting our public, and I live in the Serra Mesa neighborhood of San Diego in a home I share with my wife, daughter, and cat.
The challenges ahead are many, and we will all need to work together to address and fight for the myriad of issues we care about – in the face of special interest lobbyists and "friendly fire" often coming from our own side of the trench. With our team of energized board members and your committed involvement, I'm certain we will be able to grow and diversify our club's membership, further educate and propagate on important issues affecting our planet and its inhabitants, support committed environmentalists in getting elected to office, and continue living up to the "Action" in our club's name.
San Diego Pride photo by Maria Cerda.
Georgette Gómez photo by Roberto Torres.
The blog component of San Diego County Democrats for Environmental Action welcomes content from SDCDEA members, guests and leadership.