State assembly race: Green candidate Edwards seeks a self-sufficient District 1

Richard DuPertuis
David Edwards is one of five candidates for the District 1 State Assembly.

David Edwards thinks natural resources in the North Sierras are being underutilized. “We have biomass, sunlight and competent people,” he said during a recent interview. “They could be used to create self-sufficient communities.”

A Green Party candidate on the June primary ballot for California’s District 1 Assembly seat, Edwards proposes a co-generation system that he says would supply a small populace with both electricity and food.

“You set up one biomass plant for every 500 people,” he said. “Instead of releasing the exhaust into the air, you pump it into a greenhouse. Plants love carbon dioxide.”

Edwards, who has lived in the Grass Valley area for the last three years, said the heat from the plant would allow even a mountain community to grow food year-round.

“Using the generating capacity two ways makes up for the lack of efficiency of a smaller plant,” he said. “And we could put our 18 percent unemployed back to work in their own community.”

“My opponents want to fix things in Sacramento,” Edwards said. “I want to fix things at home. I would use my position in the Assembly with the goal of providing self-sufficiency within our communities.”

He is one of five candidates vying for a new Assembly seat created when district lines in northern California were redrawn last year. Also on the ballot are Rick Bosetti, Redding-R; Robert Meacher, Taylorsville-D; Brian Dahle, Bieber-R; and Charley Hooper, Grass Valley-L.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission, created by voter initiative in 2008, finalized the boundaries of a new District 1 last August. Called the Mountain Cap District, it encompasses an area of about 20,000 square miles including nine counties – Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, Plumas, Butte, Sierra, Nevada and parts of Placer and Butte.

Until this year’s June 5 election, Assembly member Jim Nielson, who lives outside the new district boundaries, will continue to represent Siskiyou County.

This year’s Assembly races are being conducted under California’s new “Top Two” primary process. This is an open primary, where any voter can select one ballot for any party. A candidate’s party is identified on the ballot as a “preference.” The top two vote-getters, regardless of their party preferences, face off in the general election.

Edwards thinks this is better than political primaries of the past. “It basically turns the primary into a non-partisan race,” he said. “People get to vote for who they want. I like that candidates are selected by the constituents, rather than by political parties.”

Diverse experience

Edwards said he’s been around. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, he finished his last year of high school in Carmel in 1966, then traveled the country and the world.

“My earlier education was an eclectic series of coursework at 15 different schools,” he said. Among those, he said he studied in schools in Mexico, Sweden, Switzerland and New York. “I became very involved in East Coast politics,” he said. “I organized and participated in demonstrations against the Vietnam War in New York City.”

Edwards said he spent 25 years raising his family in Aromas, a small town southeast of Watsonville. “I owned a general engineering contracting company, specializing in public works,” he said. His resume lists nine state licenses he carries to apply to his work.

He said that it was while he lived in Aromas that he built the water pressurization system in Greenfield. “I did everything,” he said. “I dug the foundation, I poured the concrete, I ran the conduit, I pulled the wires, I installed all the equipment, and I turned it on.”

He says with that experience he can take a set of plans, figure out what the project costs, pay all the bills throughout the project, and have some money left over after the job. “That's the way the state should be run,” he said.

The Klamath dams

Asked about his position on the Klamath River dams, Edwards replied, “If it was up to me, I’d tear down most of the dams in the Sierras. The dams serve big money, big agriculture, and big cities that are going to have to learn how to provide their own water.”

He said he wants the salmon to be able to swim from the Pacific Ocean to their historic spawning grounds. “And I’m not taking these positions because I’m a fish-loving, tree-hugging eco-nut,” he continued. “It’s because our modern agriculture system, which is based on free water, has caused tremendous ecological problems.”

He referenced a toxic waste site he said was created in the San Joaquin Valley by a dam and led to a die off at the Kesterson Reservoir National Wildlife Refuge.

Medical marijuana

Stating his views on medical marijuana, Edwards said, “I don’t have any problem with people using marijuana, for medicine or recreation. I drink beer. I don’t see much of a difference.”

He said he doesn’t want illegal marijuana growing to continue to fund criminal enterprises. “I think when anybody can grow it, it won’t have any more value to the cartels,” he said. He likened the problem to prohibition in the 1920s.

As for education, Edwards said, “We need to spend as much as we need to spend to bring our education system back to the level of excellence we had back in the 1960s.”

Commenting on Governor Jerry Brown’s initiative, which would raise the sales tax temporarily 0.25 percent and add a 1 to 3 percent tax on the state’s highest earners, Edwards said, “I lukewarmly support it. I’m not in favor of raising the sales tax. I think the sales tax hits the middle class the hardest and the middle class in this state has it hard enough.”