Rodriguez: California needs a lion in the U.S. Senate
Kevin de León is a Los Angeles councilmember. Photo courtesy Kevin de León website.

The fires that burned millions of acres across California this year, largely due to climate change, have made it clear Californians need a senator who is a constant environmental stalwart championing legislation that will save California from burning.

Angered during the fire crisis in California and by lack of urgency from federal officials to take action on climate change, Gov. Gavin Newsom stated we are living in “…a climate damn emergency.”

Newsom needs support at the federal level and he is lucky because he has a champion in California with the skills to pass landmark legislation to save us from yearly fire calamities. Of the top names circulating on Newsom’s radar, none comes anywhere close to the climate change legislative accomplishments of Kevin de León, former President Pro Tempore of the California Senate and current Los Angeles councilmember.

When Joe Biden and Kamala Harris are sworn in in January, the governor will have the opportunity to appoint a skillful political tactician with major legislative victories and the qualifications to successfully represent California from day one.

De León successfully passed Senate Bill 100 that was signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in 2018. The bill requires 100 percent carbon-free energy — all of California electricity will originate from clean power sources by 2045.

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman has called de León “…the unsung hero of the environmental movement.”

In 2019 de León drew attention to the high rates of asthma in the Central Valley by collaborating with former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. They wrote an editorial about pollution in the Central Valley titled “Pollution Doesn’t Care About Your Politics. Here’s how to stop this killer threat.”

De León wrote how the environmental movement is not just about protecting forests and oceans, but also about protecting the lungs of children.

De León has an accomplished record of working across the aisle with Republicans. In the California Senate, he passed landmark legislation and was known by staffers as the hardest-working elected official at the Capitol.

He is respected as a tireless advocate for all Californians, someone who has continually fought for social justice and civil and voting rights.

California needs a lion in the U.S. Senate to lobby for the most diverse and populous state in the country. He passed California’s sanctuary law, which protects undocumented immigrants, who are more than ever considered essential workers.

Raised by an immigrant single mother who cleaned houses, de León grew up in San Diego’s working-class neighborhood of Logan Heights. He is a first-generation high school and college graduate. He understands and values the working-class populations whose labor has made California the 5th largest economy in the world.

De León travels across the state to rural communities and meets with farm workers who lack basic labor protections, access to clean water and safe housing.

Throughout the pandemic, de León has offered advice during the ongoing educational crisis caused by the digital divide and recently published an editorial offering a solution to end the digital divide for students.

De León understands that providing resources to California’s Central Valley is just as important as continuing to invest in Silicon Valley. California needs a senator who will secure ongoing federal support for those who lack basic needs.

Newsom has the power to appoint a highly-qualified senator who has the political muster to represent California’s interests in Washington. De León has proven that he has the political tenacity and endurance necessary to garner votes to pass historic legislation we desperately need.

An empathetic politician, de León meets with and treats cooks and waiters at a Silicon Valley conference with the same respect as he gives to the entrepreneurs who are making speeches about global warming. He has also been in the room demanding and holding multi-billionaires accountable, demanding they do more for education, housing and health care.

De León is the product and face of the California Dream, working tirelessly for California’s interests. Newsom should appoint de León California’s next United States senator.

Ignacio Ornelas Rodriguez is a Silicon Valley resident.

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