7 Questions with Solano County Democrats

In advance of this year's endorsement meetings with the Democratic clubs of Solano County (as chronicled in Showdown in Vallejo), I was asked to respond in writing to the following seven questions.

The following written statement was sent to members of the United Democrats of Southern Solano County and the Stonewall Democratic Club of Solano County. 

(1) Have you read and do you support the 2016 Democratic party platform?

I will be at the 2016 DNC in Philadelphia as a Delegate for Bernie Sanders. There, I will help to co-create the most progressive 2016 Democratic platform possible. As for the current (2012) iteration of the platform, I have read it and I do support it.

In many ways, the Democratic platform is almost surprisingly progressive — espousing a solidly for-the-people agenda that is greatly aligned with my values and those of most working-class Americans: creating jobs, Wall Street reform, campaign finance reform, protecting rights and freedoms… 

I am just a little confused, though: How can we expect the current political Establishment (even ‘Democrats’ like our incumbent Representative in Congress) to actually deliver on any of these promises when they accept millions of dollars in campaign contributions from lobbyists from the world’s most destructive corporations like Wal-Mart and Verizon, big banks like Morgan Stanley and Bank of America, weapons manufacturers like Lockheed Martin and Honeywell, Big Pharma, Big Ag, Real Estate giants, fossil fuel companies like Tesoro, and too many insurance giants to list? 

Many Representatives in Congress are accepting these kinds of corporate contributions, totaling millions —including the candidate this club might otherwise endorse. The information about these donations is all public (http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandidateCommitteeDetail.do?candidateCommitteeId=H8CA01109&tabIndex=1), and it should make this endorsement a no-brainer. The alarming truth about the campaign financing of our representative is scarcely mentioned in the corporate media. Most of us are unaware how far down the rabbit-hole goes.

The Democratic Party platform is great, especially as it evolves in line with the needs of the People and Planet as expressed in the presidential campaign of Bernie Sanders. But until we elect Presidents like Bernie and Representatives like me who say NO to corporate ’special interest’ and SuperPAC money, then Democrats will continue to be a part of the problem.

A revolution is happening now, and you have an opportunity to make a powerful choice here. Endorse the status quo, or vote the change you wish to see.

(2) What is your position on the ORCEM/VMT project and have you read the DEIR?

As a citizen of the Bay — as a father and a human being sharing this natural environment with you — I am very concerned abut the ORCEM/VMT project. I have read through the 700+page DEIR outlining the many “unavoidable” damages to our environment that would result from this project. As I understand it, ORCEM/VMT is doing its best to move forward — with shady backroom approval from local, state and federal members of the political establishment — despite the overwhelming concerns of citizens, parents, community leaders, indigenous elders, activists and citizens throughout our community.

I stand with the people and the planet — this environment that we’re handing to our grandchildren and the seventh generation — and I am willing to take strong positions that are unpopular with the wealthy and powerful corporations attempting to be above the law. In the mean time, as long as there are documented concerns as profound as those in this project’s DEIR, I believe we need to put the brakes on ORCEM/VMT.

(3) What will you do to support families and children in poverty in Solano County? 

My top legislative priorities — from getting money out of politics and restoring our democracy, to ensuring economic justice and addressing global warming — are specifically intended to support families and children in poverty in Solano County and throughout the district. That term ‘poverty’ really applies to more and more of us nowadays (I am in student debt, for example), and to ensure our system is really caring for people and not letting the most vulnerable slip between the cracks, we need a number of sweeping reforms:

  • Priority #1: Getting Money out of Politics. This includes publicly funding elections, ending 'Citizens United' and the influence of big money on our political system, and affirming that corporations are not people. Reclaiming our democracy is the first step to getting our needs met. From health care and education, to energy and the economy: we, the people, will only have our say when we've elected leaders who are responsive to the people, not to the lobbyists of mega-corporations and the wealthiest 1%.
  • Priority #2: Economic Justice for All: Ensuring fair pay for all, creating jobs with justice, putting America to work rebuilding our crumbling infrastructure, enacting a national $15 minimum wage, stimulating small businesses and entrepreneurs, re-empowering the middle class, taxing Wall Street derivatives and high-frequency trading, eliminating corporate loopholes and holding white-collar criminals accountable. Economic Justice also includes everyone's right to affordable housing, quality health care, and excellent education. I will fight for single-payer, universal health care for all, tuition-free higher education, and affordable housing for all.
  • Priority #3: Environmental Justice and Climate Leadership: Global warming requires more than just words. We must lead the charge to protect our home planet and the future of our grandchildren. Getting free from fossil fuels requires visionary leadership and bold action, and big changes in our energy economy. We all need healthy food and clean water to thrive. We all need a healthy planet. I will make these a priority, and will not align myself with the companies who profit from pollution.

These policies all benefit families and children in poverty — and indeed, when enacted, will eliminate even the concept of poverty from our society. But to accomplish any of this, we need to elect a new Congress. This is happening now across the country. These jobs are open for re-election every two years for a reason.

(4) How involved have you been in Vallejo, Benicia and Fairfield and what will you do for each of these communities. 

Most of my life has been based between my current home in Lake County, my birthplace of San Francisco, and near my extended family throughout Sonoma County . It is only in the last couple of years that I have begun to experience Solano County, making friends with some people in Vallejo and nearby.

Since I decided to run for Congress, I have become more familiar with this area and begun to grow with the excellent network of citizens and activists here who are ready for real progressive change. I haven’t spent a lot of time in these communities yet, but here’s what I can tell you: I am with the people here, not with the wealthy corporate lobbyists. I will stand for you, and I will fight for your needs (all our needs) in the halls of Congress. I will not just sit there and maintain the status quo. That has got to count for something.

(5) Will you ever support a candidate for office who is opposed to LGBT rights? 


I am 100%, through-and-through, in radical solidarity with the LGBTQ struggle for equal rights and fair treatment. I will fight to protect and expand the advances we have already gained in this movement, including marriage equality — but I won’t stop there. When we look at the so-called ‘bathroom bills’ and other hateful legislation popping up around the country, it is clear to see that our work is far from done. I will be a vociferous warrior for LGBTQ rights. Not just a nominal supporter, but a vocal advocate in the media and on the House floor.

(6) Please explain whether you believe climate change is a serious threat and what you will do as a Supervisor to meet the SB 32 goals. 

I am running for United States House of Representatives precisely because climate change is very real, a very serious threat to our communities — and because addressing it is going to require more action than our current representatives (cozy as they are with fossil fuel lobbyists) are ever going to take.

As a dad, I want to be certain that my children (and your children, and ALL our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren) will inherit a planet that is healthy and a society that is just. 

Naomi Klein got it right with the title of her latest award-winning book and film. “This Changes Everything: Capitalism Versus the Climate.” This is an existential-level threat that demands urgent action, but to really do anything, we need to regulate our economy (not only fossil fuels and emissions), because it is our whole profit-based, shareholder-first, endless-growth, corporation-as-person paradigm that is causing global warming. 

Again — with respect — I am baffled to see ANY progressive organization endorse any candidate who, like my opponent, accepts money from the fossil fuel industry. 

(7) Please list any endorsements you have already received.

My endorsements are not from the newspapers that are owned by far-off parent corporations. Nor are they from members of the existing political elite who have gotten us in this mess of wealth inequality and climate change to begin with. My endorsements are are from members of the community — working class folks from all around our district who have sent me unsolicited messages of solidarity like this one, from Napa County School Board member and Don Saylor for Assembly Field Rep Alex Shantz: 

“I’m supporting Nils Palsson for Congress in the 5th. Nils is young and brings fresh energy and ideas to politics. He is also undoubtedly the most progressive candidate. We need to keep working together to support candidates that truly put the working class, the poor, the oppressed, and the environment first.”

A full list of community endorsements will be published Wednesday on my website, www.peoplesvictory.us/endorsements/

Closing Words:

Your club is participating in the making of history right now. This could be just another endorsement meeting, just like the last — and maybe the next two years will look just like the last two years, with very little being done in Congress to really address the needs of the people. Or this could be the day you make a bold choice to say NO to the corporate establishment that we’ve been taught to trust, the one that has been selling us out behind closed doors. 

I challenge you to look deeply within yourself, look at your values and your greatest vision for America, and look at the truth about who funds each candidate, before making this endorsement choice. 

Whoever gets elected, there will be a talented staff of case-workers to assist in meeting the needs of our constituents… but for a number of large reasons, including our planet, it really matters who we elect to this seat. It matters to families in poverty, people struggling right now — and to future generations.

I’m only running for this office to ensure that the voice of the people is actually represented.

Thank you for your time.