Thursday, April 14, 2011

James Mejia: Mayor

I first met James Mejia at a community event last year, and I liked him right away. However, when considering who to support for Mayor, I wanted to be sure not to base my decision on personality. While there are many different topics that I care about, I focused most of my attention on sustainability -- particularly as it relates to local food issues. Food is not a "niche" topic within the realm of sustainability. It is literally what sustains us, and our diet is one of the biggest energy consumers and polluters in our lives.

I find Mejia's entire sustainability platform to be impressive. In particular, he is one of only two major candidates to even mention food when discussing sustainable policies for Denver. Mejia's thoughts about sustainable food policy include converting some city owned land into community gardens, increasing the number of Farmers' Markets in Denver, changing the laws around the sharing and sale of backyard produce, and -- yes -- improving the rules regarding Food Producing Animals like hen chickens and dwarf dairy goats.

In my advocacy work I've spent a lot of time on the Food Producing Animals (FPA) ordinance, and I've had the opportunity to talk with several of the candidates about this issue. Though it may seem like a small thing to focus on, I truly believe that the FPA ordinance is an accurate barometer for where an elected official stands on sustainability issues. Remember that the FPA ordinance is not some slapdash policy thrown together by activists on the fringe. The proposed ordinance was carefully crafted by staff from Community Planning & Development, Animal Care & Control, the Department of Environmental Health, and the City Attorney's office. The team spent time researching successful FPA ordinances in other major cities, and the guidelines in Denver's proposed ordinance fall well within the boundaries of what is working elsewhere. The ordinance passed unanimously through the Denver Planning Board.

Therefore, the FPA ordinance represents supporting well-researched and well-written policies that address a legitimate urban sustainability issue -- even in the face of the inevitable fear of change from some members of the community. 

James Mejia recognizes that Denver has a reputation for being a sustainable city, and he wants us to do everything we can to live up to (and exceed) that reputation. Sustainable, affordable, accessible food is a food justice issue -- and he understands how important that is for our all of our city's residents. I'm also a huge fan of Mejia's Buy Denver Initiative (BDI), which would require the City of Denver to give preference to local vendors in the procurement process, and also promote the production and purchase of local foods and sustainably made goods.

I would love to see Denver's development as a sustainable city if James Mejia becomes our Mayor. Visit the Mejia for Mayor website to learn more about James Mejia, sign on as a supporter, or request a yard sign.

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