This shouldn’t be taken as a full-on endorsement, because despite accusations that this blog has a favorite in the Governor’s race, I honestly couldn’t tell you whether I’d vote for McGinty, McCord, or Schwartz if the primary were held today. There are still a number of issues I want to hear from the candidates on before the KP team can agree on a candidate for our endorsement coming later this Spring.
What I can say for sure is that at this time, based on what we’ve heard so far from the candidates, Katie McGinty is the top choice for environmentalists. That’s because she has the best combination of electability and policy positions.
I am hearing that some environmentalist activists are currently in a derp-off to see who can make the worst choice in the Democratic primary: John Hanger or Max Myers.
Neither of these candidates can win the nomination, let alone the Governor’s office. Especially Myers, who has raised even less than John Hanger, and is not a progressive on “social issues” like women’s health and privacy and equal rights.
Of the electable candidates (Schwartz, McCord, and McGinty) McGinty has the same environmental positions as the rest:
-a 5% severance tax on natural gas production that goes in the general fund (lock-boxed for education, though);
- a moratorium on fracking on public lands, but not private lands;
- a phase-out of dirty energy tax subsidies;
- more support for renewable energy development
But on top of this, she had the best answers of any of the candidates to the Issue Questionnaire we did last year.
Specifically, she was the only candidate to commit at this level to smart growth principles like Fix-It First priority for transportation spending, and priority status for already-developed areas, brownfields and grayfields for state infrastructure and development spending.
Pulled from the questionnaire, here are some specific commitments she has made:
- Supporting regional economic clusters, and our historic strengths in food processing, manufacturing controls, natural gas, nano-technology, metals, manufactured housing and pharmaceuticals as well as our incredibly strong anchor institutions, our colleges, universities and health systems (Pennsylvania is a net importer of college students and medical residents, for example.);
- Establishing a Green Economy Strategy, focusing on developing alternative energy, clean energy production and green building supply chains.”
- Preference for Brownfield and Grayfield development;
- Preference for projects where the infrastructure exists to support the project;
- Preference for reuse or adaptation of existing buildings and facilities.
- Support for significantly increasing state funding for transportation.
- Support for smart, sustainable transportation policy would encourage county and regional planning to develop alternative transit systems and networks
- Support for the “smart, sustainable transportation that was developed by the Rendell administration, which emphasized traffic calming, considered non-vehicular transportation and encouraged mass transit.”
She is also the only candidate who was willing to spell out support for regionalizing more services – a key environmental issue, since tax base competition between tiny municipal units sends greenfield development into hyperdrive, and a key issue for progressive taxation:
- Re-evaluate the municipal planning process, which could include expanding the authority of MPOs and counties in local zoning and planning efforts.
- Strongly support regional planning.
- Encourage brownfield remediation and redevelopment further to support economic vitality and quality of life.
So to recap, with McGinty, environmentalists get a candidate who knows the issues inside and out because she ran the state DEP already, has committed to all of the environmental positions the other frontrunners have, and actually goes above and beyond that to support the land use reforms that nobody else will address, but are actually the single most important environmental issue. And, she’s actually electable, politically savvy, and is a decent fundraiser.
Again, this isn’t intended as a general endorsement, because there are other important issues out there where I’m not yet sure if McGinty’s the best pick (the economy, education, budget politics, equality issues), but at this point in the race if the environment is your biggest voting issue, Katie McGinty is your best candidate for Governor.