La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club: Environmental heroes headline February meeting

By Linda Armacost and Jeff Benesch | La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club

On Wednesday, Feb. 1, just 10 days into the President Trump era, local Democrats will hear an all-star forum discuss the steps we need to take to resist the attack on our climate goals, our clean air and water, and our ongoing transformation to renewable energy sources.

Who best to create opportunities and action plans than the executive director of the Climate Action Campaign? Or the newly elected San Diego City Councilperson from District 9? Or the executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper? Representatives of and the Sierra Club will also join our panel.

Why our urgency to sound the alarm and expose and resist what is likely to be in store for the next four years in the environmental community?

Trump’s nominee to head the Environmental Protection Agency is noted climate change denier Scott Pruitt. And Trump is expected to name Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers to head the Interior Department. She is noteworthy for claiming that Al Gore “deserves an ‘F’ in science.”

And let’s not forget that Trump’s choice for Secretary of State is none other than the head of the largest oil company in the world, Rex Tillerson. It’s plain to see that our new president has little regard for ending our dependency on oil, coal, tar sands, and other fossil fuel sources.

Our February meeting is the second in our series we are calling “Write, Advocate and Resist: 48 months of learning to cope and overcome the already dire Trump administration.” Trump’s inauguration coincided with the lowest approval ratings of any modern incoming president.

His appointments to executive positions on his staff and his cabinet are a group of unqualified, inexperienced and self-serving individuals who have little in common with the people or departments they are intending to lead, a veritable who’s who of reactionary and far-right thinkers beholden to the fossil fuel industry and climate change deniers.

Environmental attorney Nicole Capretz (Photos Courtesy of La Mesa Foohills Democratic Club)

On the other hand, our environmental heroes are long-time advocates and scholars, the best and brightest in their fields.

Nicole Capretz is an environmental attorney with 20 years of as an energy and climate policy advisor for local governments and the nonprofit sector. Nicole was the primary author of the city of San Diego’s groundbreaking, legally binding 100 percent clean energy Climate Action Plan adopted in late 2015.

San Diego City Councilmember Georgette Gomez

She now serves on the San Diego’s Climate Action Plan Implementation Working Group, as well as the city of Solana Beach’s Climate Action Commission.

District 9 City Councilmember Georgette Gomez has some serious environmental chops herself. She was associate director of Toxic Free Neighborhoods for the Environmental Health Coalition, and is well-known as a community organizer who has fought for many environmental issues.

Matt O’Malley is the executive director of San Diego Coastkeeper.

He joined Coastkeeper in January of 2014 as legal and policy director, where he leads the advocacy work of the organization and protects the water bodies of San Diego County by utilizing local, state, and national laws and regulations, and through community engagement.

San Diego Coastkeeper executive director Matt O’Malley

Having represented environmental groups in the federal, state, and local arenas, O’Malley has experience in areas such as: the Clean Water Act and NPDES permits; land use and growth management laws; CEQA; the Endangered Species Act; groundwater, soils, and sediment remediation; and environmental justice, to name a few.

He currently chairs the Legal Committee and is a board member of the California Coastkeeper Alliance.

Masada Disenhouse is a repeat visitor to La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club (LMFDC) and founder of, a very active climate action advocacy group. founder Masada Diesenhouse is an international environmental organization encouraging citizens to action with the belief that publicizing the increasing levels of carbon dioxide will pressure world leaders to address climate change and to reduce levels from 400 parts per million to 350 parts per million. takes its name from the research of Goddard Institute for Space Studies scientist James E. Hansen, who posited in a 2007 paper that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is a safe upper limit to avoid a climate tipping point.

Brian Elliott works locally for Congressman Scott Peters but also chairs the Political Committee for the local chapter of the Sierra Club.

He worked for the California Democratic Party as the environmental organizer on Congressman Peters’ 2014 re-election effort and was an advocate for local clean energy as the campaign organizer for Climate Action Campaign, and is now serving in Peters’ district office.

Moderator Davin Widgerow is an environmental lawyer whose work is focused on toxic contamination remediation. Until recently, he headed the Steering Committee for Sierra Club San Diego, which is tasked with coordinating club projects, activities, finances, and administration.

He also served as chair of the Political Committee, which engages political candidates and environmental activists to further Sierra Club’s conservation efforts.

LMFDC meets on the first Wednesday of each month at the La Mesa Community Center, 4975 Memorial Drive, starting at 6:30 p.m.

LMFDC is now holding our 2017 membership drive. For $30 per year, members enjoy 12 general meetings featuring outstanding speakers and programs, our monthly newsletter, weekly updates of news you can use, special events and camaraderie with fellow progressives.

Join us now to learn more about the current threats to our democracy and the future of our planet. Be sure to visit our website at or friend us on our Facebook page. 

—Linda Armacost is president and Jeff Benesch is vice-president of programming for the La Mesa Foothills Democratic Club. Reach them at

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