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And now for something completely different

Observations from the Edge
Robert T. Nanninga
Coast News
March 24, 2006


I've been told my recent columns have been kind of depressing. One appreciative reader, citing doom, gloom, and mass extinction as serious downers, suggested I find something hopeful to write about.

Hope is hard. Attuned to the growing ecological peril facing Californians, wishful thinking is a luxury no longer available to those not addicted to delusion and denial. I don't do hope.

A Green, I have come to terms with life on the margins of political thought. Advocating biocentric sustainability and social restraint hasn't been popular since Christopher Columbus landed in North America. Hoping for ecological wisdom from elected officials is futile at best. The System, our system, is so out of whack, only catastrophe or revolution can save us from ourselves.

Unwilling to call it hope, I did register relief when polling data on the 50th district congressional race showed Democrat Francine Busby and Republican Brian Bilbray with considerable leads over the other 19 candidates. The poll, conducted by Competitive Edge Research, a San Diego based polling firm, also showed more than 62% of responders thought congress was on the wrong track. This is good news, and reason for hope.

Busby is polling near 40%, Bilbray, near 20%. As a Green, I see a Busby/Bilbray run-off as the best-case scenario, considering the full range of narrow-minded candidates. Both Busby and Bilbray have better grasps on the environmental challenges facing the people of the 50th district, than the Bible-thumping immigrant bashers courting cultural conflict. We the people of Escondido, San Marcos, Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Del Mar, La Jolla and Pacific Beach deserve better.

Maybe the federal war on ecological sustainability is finally being recognized as the terror it is. A positive change for the 50th district would be a congressional representative who actually understood the connections between healthy ecosystems and a healthy economy.

Last week I met with front-runner Francine Busby. A common sense Democrat, Francine is very personable, and rather unassuming, not brash, and no bravado, the candidate seemed eager to talk about environmental issues beyond the bullet points available on her web site. This easily explains why the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters endorse her.

In the spirit of full disclosure it is important to note, Francine Busy is a not a tree hugging, granola munching, biocentric environmental progressive. A fiscal moderate, Busby, an elected trustee of the Cardiff School District Board and adjunct Professor of Women's Studies at California State University, San Marcos, is the ultimate soccer mom, having contributed significantly as a community volunteer and Girl Scout leader.

Like most Democrats, sustainable environmental stewardship is not a top priority for Busby. That said, her direct advocating of "wise stewardship of natural resources" heartened me. A strong advocate of state rights, Busby considers her support for a ban on off shore drilling to be mainstream. She also vowed to "undo the undoing" by restoring environmental protections gutted by the Bush administration.

Acknowledging an ecologically aware constituency, Busby views environmental responsibility a matter of cultural values, clearly stating, "I will be a champion for the environment, because I can be. What's ironic is Cunningham had one of the worse environmental records in congress." In Congress, Busby would be a voice for energy independence within 10 years, as well as a proponent of mass transit, green buildings standards, and the protection and preservation of endangered species through responsible land use.

Venturing into the issue de jour, I asked Francine about illegal immigration. Her very thoughtful answer included mention of the technologically advanced "smart fence" already being used in Arizona to detect and prevent unlawful border crossings. Calm and collected, while talking about immigration issues, Ms. Busby focused her concern on rule of law and human dignity, leaving the xenophobic, and politically advantageous, rhetoric to her Republican and Democratic rivals.

Suffice it to say I find a reason for hope in the congressional campaign of Francine Busby. Although not Green in the political sense, her willingness to address sustainable environmental stewardship represents a breath of fresh air compared to the 15 years of malignant neglect that passed as Randy Cunningham's environmental policy.

The people, places, and things of the 50th District are ready for change, need change, and must change. Francine Busby definitely represents change.

Evolution is good thing.

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