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Climate: What do the candidates say?

Katya Gordon

What do candidates that you are voting for in the November election have to say about climate solutions? I have been pursuing both local and federal candidates to provide those answers in this column.

Today, we will focus on Two Harbors Ward 1, currently held by councilor Miles Woodruff. Woodruff is looking to continue for another term. Uriah Hefter is also running for Ward 1 city councilor.

Woodruff and I discussed projects going on in the city that are connected to energy issues. With climate change increasing the wear and tear on all infrastructure, he pointed out we are currently immersed in more road projects than we have been in for the last 25 years.

Woodruff sees the tourist economy as central to the wellbeing of Two Harbors, so maintaining and enhancing our natural beauty and resources is critical. He told me the city has applied for a grant that would support business and home rehabilitation projects.

It's very important, in his view, to "welcome businesses and keep the ones we have."

He also informed me of a little-known fact: For every square foot bought by a new business, owners pay a percentage dedicated to green space. Those funds go directly to trails, parks and playgrounds in Two Harbors.

When I asked about light pollution in the city, he told me that it would take a miracle to change the lights at the ore dock, as those are driven by federal safety regulations. He did confirm that many streetlights in town are now powered by LED bulbs.

He also mentioned a charging station for electrical cars that he hopes is coming, perhaps along the waterfront/downtown area.

Finally, when asked if he would support a city resolution that outlines a clear intention to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to protect the quality of life of those to come, he said he would.

"The city has always done that (protected the quality of life for future residents)," he concluded.

Onto his challenger: Uriah Hefter. In response to my inquiry, Hefter wrote: "One of my main focuses is making our city more energy efficient. Not just for the environment, but as a cost savings for our citizens. ... We have many options for improving the cost effectiveness of our city utilities, along with helping to do our part for the environment."

He comes up with some ideas: "Let's install a wind turbine, to feed back into the city's power grid. Our rates have gone up 20 percent in the last four years, and a reduction in those rates would be a welcome break for all of us who continue to be frustrated at our monthly utility bill.

"Simple, common sense things that we can do will help make us an attractive community to help influence growth and protect our resources for decades to come. Inaction has cost us enough to this point," Hefter said. "We need to take steps now to work through these impediments and move forward together to help ourselves and our surroundings.

"There is no magic bullet to solve all the issues, but there are many small things we can do that will help us succeed in rolling back the damage we have done, and make life a bit easier for all of us along the way," Hefter said.

Thanks to both Hefter and Woodruff for their attention to these issues and willingness to share them with me.

Katya Gordon is a volunteer for the Citizens' Climate Lobby and a Two Harbors resident.