Candidates Respond to Yolano Group Questionnaire – Part 2

by Alan Pryor – Chair, Sierra Club Yolano Group

In the ballot for March 2020, three candidates are vying for the office of Yolo County District 4 Supervisor – Jim Provenza, Linda Deos, and David Abramson. This District represents the southern and more eastern portions of the City of Davis and rural residents of Yolo County in the area extending south of Davis to the Solano County line and east of Davis to the Yolo Bypass.

The Sierra Club Yolano Group prepares questionnaires for candidates in local races we deem to be seriously contested and/or where there are clear differences between the candidates. We ask questions on a wide range of environmentally-related issues of importance to the electorate and/or our local Sierra Club members and the candidates provide written responses to allow them to directly express their views and opinions in their own words. All candidates provided responses to all of of our questions in this questionnaire.

The Sierra Club Yolano Group Takes “No Endorsement Position” in the 2020 Yolo County District 4 Supervisor Race

The Sierra Club Yolano Group has carefully assessed all of the responses and finds all candidates are equally worthy of receiving Sierra Club endorsement for this election based of their environmental views and proposed policies. Unfortunately, Sierra Club rules prevent endorsement of more candidates than are available open seats in any election. So the Sierra Club Yolano Group must take a “No Endorsement Position” in this Supervisor race.

That said, we believe all of the candidates demonstrated a remarkable understanding of the specific environmental pressures facing the County and the general climate crisis facing our planet. All seemed genuinely cognizant of the necessary urgency in responding to these challenges. Indeed, in our opinion the candidates for this office are among the most environmentally knowledgeable and committed slate of candidates to ever run for Supervisor or any elected office in Yolo County.

Following are the range of topics covered by our questionnaire then followed by the second of the 4 articles with the questions and answers as described below. The first article in the series can be viewed at The order of the candidate responses are changed with each article.

Issue 2-1Reusable, Recyclable, &  Compostable In-Restaurant and Take-Out Food & Drink Containers & Tableware

BackgroundDavis has adopted a Zero Waste Resolution to achieve zero waste by 2025. As part of this program, all food service in-restaurant and take-out tableware and food and drink containers must be reusable, recyclable or compostable including a ban on all Styrofoam containers.

Question 2-1 – Should the County adopt a zero waste ordinance and similarly mandate elimination of both in-restaurant and take-out non-reusable, non-compostable, or non-recyclable food and drink containers and tableware? Why or why not?

Linda Deos Response

Absolutely. For years the US has been exporting our trash to China and other developing countries because we have been profligate in waste. Meanwhile, countries like Sweden have led recycling revolutions and significantly reduced the trash they contribute to landfills, a major source of methane emissions.

The climate crisis means we must do everything possible to create a more sustainable planet, and this is a relatively simple step.

David Abramson Response

Yes. We have to tools available to transition to a zero-waste Yolo County. The Yolo County Landfill is a world-class center that is continually making innovations and improvements. Davis has a good model for how to implement waste management and I would support implementation and support for residents in Yolo County to help us achieve that goal countywide.

There is no “away” when we throw things in our landfill bins. There are no markets right now for the majority of recyclable products, and they are being put into the landfill, so I would focus especially on supporting the use of compostable to-go materials. PFOAs are also a great concern, as they are said to be compostable, but have been shown to be toxic to both human health and the material created in composting.

Jim Provenza Response

The current waste level is not sustainable. Elimination of non-reusable containers is a simple step that will have a positive impact on the flow of waste in Yolo County.

Issue 2-2 – Mandatory Segregated Commercial, Single-Family,  and Multi-Family Recycling and Green Waste Collection

BackgroundDavis waste management now requires mandatory single-family, commercial, & multi-family recycling & segregated organics collection.

Question 2-2Do you support these measures for Yolo County, why or why not, and if so, how should the County roll them out and enforce them?

Linda Deos Response

I do. As of 2017, businesses that generate 4 cubic yards of organic waste or more per week fall under state regulation for organic waste recycling. This year the state will be assessing the overall success in meeting a 50% reduction in organic waste disposal and will extend the requirement to businesses generating 2 cubic yards if not met. For the County to implement such a program, I would make use of the EPA’s guidelines as well as discussions with your organization and local businesses on the best timetable for implementation.

David Abramson Response

Yes, for reasons stated in the previous response. Let’s do everything in our power to go zero-waste and address the realities of our on-hold recycling system. Let’s come up with a timely action plan to transition to an economy based on reusable, compostable, and truly recyclable materials.

Jim Provenza Response

Yes. The county has been expanding its mandatory recycling priority. In the fourth district, both Montgomery and El Macero (the unincorporated communities in my district) have the same services as the City of Davis—recycling and segregated organics collection.

Issue 3-1 – Groundwater Conservation

BackgroundCalifornia has a new statewide mandate that requires all Counties (through groundwater management agencies) to develop and implement groundwater monitoring and management strategies.

Question 3-1 – What measures do you think would be most effective to sustainably limit or restrict ground water overdrafts by municipalities and farmers throughout the County? 

Linda Deos Response

I want to see more being done with water storage and the use of underground cisterns to collect water run-off. I also support retrofitting single-family homes for gray water systems. I would also like to see this expanded to new multi-family developments.

David Abramson Response

This is where helping farmers transition to regenerative agriculture comes into play. Regenerative agriculture has the potential not only to “use less water” but to hold water in the soil and recharge our precious groundwater resources. Each one-percent increase in soil organic matter helps soil hold 16,500 gallons more plant-available water per acre.

On the contrary, bare soil and desertified landscapes become compacted, lifeless and fails to hold water or nutrients. The water and soil runs off, and water is evaporated much more quickly creating additional problems for farmers and adding to our greenhouse gas problem.

We ought to be paying farmers for ecosystem services and support them with all available agricultural subsidies in the 3 years of transitioning from chemical and heavy-tillage based agricultural systems until the 4th year where regenerative systems become economically viable and self-sustaining with much fewer inputs and impacts.

We ought to be focusing on restoring the water cycle as well as the carbon cycle, and come of the greatest climate solutions lie in the soil and in support for proper land management.

Jim Provenza Response

I represented Yolo County on the county’s ground water sustainability agency. I currently serve as an alternate to their board. All of the reclamation districts serving on the agency board have agreed to develop a plan that will provide for groundwater sustainability on an ongoing basis.

Enforcement measures are possible. However, to date, we are on track to achieve groundwater sustainability based upon voluntary compliance. Our local groundwater supply is now increasing. Close monitoring and the willingness to quickly address any decline in groundwater is the key to sustainability.

I successfully advocated for including an environmental representative on the board of the groundwater sustainability agency.

Issue 3-2 – Fluoridation of Municipal Drinking Water

BackgroundCalifornia has a new statewide mandate that requires all Counties (through groundwater management agencies) to develop and implement groundwater monitoring and management strategies.

Question 3-2 – The Yolo Co Health Council continues to recommend mandatory community water fluoridation of our Cities’ municipal water supplies as a dental decay preventative measure. The Davis City Council rejected such a measure 6 years ago.

Linda Deos Response

I will support what science supports. I know Davis has studies that have shown long term use to have enhanced health benefits, while other studies have suggested a potential impact on IQ scores for young children exposed to too much. My own dentist. Dr. Okazaki, does not support fluoridation. While I was initially fully in favor based on what I learned while serving on the Health Council, my support has softened considerably. I cannot commit right now to full opposition, but I can say that with competing evidence, I believe it is safer to maintain current standards and not introduce new substances into our water supply.

David Abramson Response

I have looked pretty extensively into the research on water fluoridation and I believe there are enough concerns that I would oppose water fluoridation measures. Fluoridating the water supply has not been shown to achieve it’s stated intentions for achieving dental health benefits.

Fluoridation has also been recently shown in a recent peer-reviewed government-funded research study published in the Journal of American Medicine Association – Pediatrics to negatively impact IQ development in young children. Also, only about 1% of our water supply is used for drinking, while 99% is used for washing, bathing, irrigation etc. There is also an economic concern in addition to the health and safety risks.

Jim Provenza Response

I am open to considering arguments on both sides if this issue comes up again. At this point, I am deferring to the City of Davis as to our local water supply.

Issue 4-1 – Wood Burning Restrictions

BackgroundSmall particulate pollution is the leading cause of respiratory disease in the Central Valley and particularly affects children and seniors with impaired respiratory systems. Approximately 50% of winter ambient air particulate pollution is related to residential wood burning. Both the Bay Area and Sacramento Air Quality Management Districts have mandatory no-burn day prohibitions when air quality is poor during the winter months. Yet the Yolo Solano Air Quality Management District (which regulates air quality in the entirety of Yolo County) has not yet implemented any such mandatory burning restrictions when air quality is poor.

Question 4-1 – Would you support similar County-wide wood-burning restrictions when particulate air quality in Yolo Co is projected to exceed safe thresholds? Why or why not? 

Linda Deos Response

We absolutely need to begin County wide restrictions on wood burning during bad air days. This issue is very personal to me as I suffer from moderate asthma and wood smoke is a major trigger.

David Abramson Response

This issue gets to some of the big questions on how we move forward on addressing climate issues in a way that accounts for people’s needs. Would residents burn wood if there were other accessible options? The need for burning relates to the need for people to be warm, so if we can provide these residents with electric and solar-powered heaters then the problem of wood burning becomes moot.

We need to move forward quite thoughtfully to ensure that our climate action plan does not further distress the most vulnerable populations, and instead provides access to alternatives, making the polluting activity a non-issue.

Jim Provenza Response

This is a serious problem. I am particularly concerned about the impact on children, elderly persons and others who suffer from respiratory problems.

I would consider a proposal to establish mandatory no burn days in Yolo County.

The Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District currently endorses voluntary compliance through spare-the-air days. The Board of Supervisors would likely want to examine the level of voluntary compliance in our county on no-burn days vs. the level of compliance in counties with mandatory no-burn days.

This is a problem that we must take seriously.

Issue 4-2 – Pesticide Use Reduction

BackgroundThe City of Davis recently immediately banned the use of pollinator-killing neonicotinoid class of pesticides and phases out the use of the herbicide glyphosate (the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Round-up product) by the City by the end of 2020.

Question 4-2 – Do you support or oppose similarly restricting such pesticide use by the County on County properties and why or why not?

Linda Deos Response

I fully support restricting pesticide usage and believe health and safety needs to be a top priority. I, along with thousands of others, frequently use our parks, greenbelts and open spaces. I am appalled that we are not already using organic pesticides in these areas and would support the government only using certified organic pesticides because doing so is in the best interest of not only ourselves, but also the wildlife.

David Abramson Response

I would support restricting glyphosate and neonicotinoid use by the County in light of health, safety, and ecology concerns. I would further advocate restricting use of other pesticides unless they have been shown beyond a reasonable doubt that they are safe to use.

Many countries, states, and cities are banning glyphosate and neonicotinoid pesticides as studies come out about their potential impacts to water, soil life, insects, and the complex food web.

I support the precautionary principle and using the latest data available in making these decisions, and recognizing that laboratory experiments often fail to capture the potential impacts on complex ecosystems. More than anything, we need to address root causes of why farmers and land managers currently need pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, and what we can do to support them in transitioning to economically-viable chemical-free practices.

Jim Provenza –

I would likely support a similar restriction in the county. The City of Davis has addressed important environmental issues through this regulation. The county should consider doing the same.

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About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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  1. Sharla Cheney

    Linda Deos should run for Davis City Council.  Her answers are more about implementing strategies for a city, and less about County issues and opportunities.

    Jim Provenza’s answer on the last question is missing. Did he not answer this?

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