I was troubled by a December email from State Rep. Brian Egolf’s campaign, which said that “a group opposed to the strongest clean energy bill in the country has recruited an opponent to run against Brian in the Democratic primary … to defeat Brian and block his agenda for real change.”
That opponent is Lyla June Johnston, an environmental activist who struggled through poverty on her way to degrees from Stanford and the University of New Mexico, and is Egolf’s opponent in June’s primary elections. As a Diné, she knows the tribe’s suffering from the poisons of uranium production and coal-fired plants, and now illnesses associated with fracking. While she clearly has major problems with state energy policy, Johnston wants to strengthen, rather than oppose, clean-energy policy.
With Australia on fire, no one can deny that climate change is accelerating. At the same time, the Permian Basin oil boom promises swelling tax revenues, perhaps to finally fund programs addressing the needs of our impoverished state. We face difficult choices. Should we fund pressing needs with the proceeds from industries that so damage our environment?
We need everyone on board to face this challenge. We must include women, people of color and the disadvantaged, who bear the brunt of environmental, social and racial injustice in the political process. Certainly, we should welcome people like Johnston into the “large tent” of the Democratic Party.
I’m very disappointed with the scurrilous tone and content of Egolf’s email, attacking but not naming Lyla June Johnston. As speaker of the House and a key member of the Democratic Party, Egolf is expected to lead and maintain high levels of civility, conduct and transparency. House Speaker Egolf should lead, follow or get out of the way.
Jim Klukkert lives in El Rancho.