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The Race For The House - The Environmentalist

Michelle Loxton
Three candidates are vying for the U.S. House of Representatives, 20th Congressional District seat.

Local environmental advocate Adam Bolaños Scow is running, for the first time, for California’s 20th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives. The district includes Monterey and San Benito Counties, and parts of Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties.

Scow is also a senior strategist for the Public Water Now campaign, which is actively pursuing the public ownership of the Monterey Peninsula’s water system. Scow, a Democrat, is running against incumbent Democrat Jimmy Panetta and Republican Jeff Gorman.

The top two vote-getters on Super Tuesday will advance to the November election.

KAZU sat down with Scow recently to ask him why he’s running. Here are some highlights from that conversation.

Michelle Loxton
Adam Bolaños Scow is an environmental advocate.

Michelle Loxton (ML): So tell me, why do you want this job?  

Adam Bolaños Scow (ABS):  I'm running because we have a climate crisis that is getting worse and we are running out of time to solve this problem and we have a Congress that is not taking the problem seriously enough. My background prepares me to be an advocate to take on the fossil fuel interests because that's what we have to do. We have to get off of fossil fuels and replace them with clean energy at a much faster rate than what is happening now. And our survival is basically at stake.   

ML: Scow supports The Green New Deal, which is an expansive plan proposed by progressive democrats to tackle climate change. Scow wants to get to a 100% clean electric grid by 2030. 

ABS: At the same time, however, we have an affordability crisis where people can barely afford to live here in Monterey County, in Santa Cruz… Santa Cruz County. They are two of the least affordable counties in the United States. So it's time to bring our tax dollars home so we can fund real affordable housing, universal health care and tuition-free education.

ML: That's a little bit about why you're running. Why should you be the one to get this job?  

ABS: People ask me that and I say we should judge politicians in three ways, and candidates in three ways. What's their record? What's their platform? And who's financing their campaign? For all of those three reasons, that makes me the strongest candidate. I have a record of taking on the fossil fuel industry. I have been an advocate my entire life. This is what I do. We do not have enough members of Congress who have the guts to take on the fossil fuel industry. If a bipartisan compromise was going to solve the problem, like the incumbent prefers, I would not be running. But it's not solving anything. The problem is getting worse. I am only taking money from real people, I am not taking corporate PAC money. 

ML: So let's talk about some very specific issues now, facing our community, immigration. One of the pillars of your campaign is justice for farmworkers. Can you tell me a little bit about that?  

ABS: Well, I am the grandson of a farmworker, of a Bracero farmworker, who worked the Salinas Valley and in Watsonville in the 1940s. In some ways it's... it's very sad to see the current state of affairs for our farm working… farmworker community, but also many immigrants, in general, who are living in the shadows. And that's wrong. We have people here contributing to our society and to our economy, and they deserve a path to citizenship. 

ML: Scow says he also has a plan to improve the agriculture industry. 

ABS: Agriculture is so important in our district. We have a groundwater crisis. We're overpumping our groundwater and there's too many pesticides and fertilizers in some places where communities cannot drink their water. And we want to ensure that agriculture can continue for future generations. That it is the bedrock of rural economic development here. So we want to also look at antitrust law to make sure that small businesses and small farms can actually survive. The current trend in the food industry is get big or get out. And I'm saying no. It's government's job to ensure we have a well-regulated market place. So farmers of all sizes can thrive and succeed. 

ML: So let's talk about health care now. You support Medicare for All?

ABS: I support universal health care, single payer health care, Medicare for All system. I believe it is long overdue in our country. We have been talking about this for nearly 100 years. We are seeing families pay more and more money for worse and worse insurance as insurance costs are skyrocketing. And the only way we're going to solve that is with a public insurance plan that covers everybody.

From 2019 to 2021 Michelle Loxton worked at KAZU as an All Things Considered host and reporter. During that time she reported on a variety of topics from the coronavirus pandemic, the opioid epidemic and local elections. Loxton was part of the news team that won a Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for the continued coverage of the four major wildfires that engulfed California’s Central Coast in 2020.
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