By Kim Osborn Mullen
About 300 climate activists, would-be activists, and Democratic Senate hopefuls met in Tivoli Turnhalle on the Auraria campus February 15th for an afternoon focused on action to solve the climate crisis, called Planet in Peril.
The event was organized by Metropolitan State University Sigma Tau Delta and brought local progressive communities together, including co-sponsor 350Denver. The afternoon began with music, dance and spoken word from performers expressing environmental concern that led into the senate forum.
Local activist and organizer Ean Thomas Tafoya moderated the forum, which included Democratic candidates: Diana Bray, clinical psychologist/climate activist; Andrew Romanoff, former Colorado Speaker of the House; Stephany Rose Spaulding, local pastor/educator; Critter Milton, financial advisor; Lorena Garcia, community activist; Trish Zornio, scientist, Dave Goldfischer, university professor; Erik Underwood, former Senate staffer.
Watch the full Livestream of the event here! The candidate forum starts about an hour into the video.
Absent due to illness was Democrat Michelle Ferrigno Warren, in addition to former Democratic Governor John Hickenlooper and Republican incumbent Cory Gardner; both of whom declined to participate. All candidates from both parties were invited to join the forum.
Candidates answered questions ranging from how to bring political factions together to the importance of climate justice. All the candidates stressed the urgency of action and pledged to support the Green New Deal if elected. Responses varied on how to finance the transition to renewable energy and how to work within the current political system dead set against climate action.
Candidates were also questioned by prominent young activist Riley Ruff about their commitment to include the youth movement in their climate policies.
To finish out the afternoon, panelists from seven local activist groups explained their varied involvement in environmental justice and activism. The lively panel was moderated by Joe Salazar, Executive Director of Colorado Rising. He brought up concerns about underserved communities and the ongoing struggle to engage wider support amidst the deepening crisis.
Our own Sunni Benoit, 350Colorado President, stressed the importance of movement building and bringing progressive community members into the climate battle.
Events like this are crucial for climate activists, not only to learn about where candidates stand on important issues, but also to keep information flowing and recognize we’re all in this fight together. Don’t forget the Colorado Senate primary is June 30th so before then, check out the details of candidates’ climate platforms either on their websites, in-person forums or watch the link below that has the full event from Feb. 15th.
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