With her climate change expertise, Fajans-Turner hopes to shine in her race for Congress | Politics

All seven Democrats running in the 22nd congressional district agree that climate change needs to be addressed, but one candidate’s expertise on the subject is unmatched.

Vanessa Fajans-Turner of Ithaca is seeking the Democratic nomination in the newly drawn 22nd Precinct. The district includes Onondaga and Tompkins counties, as well as parts of Cayuga, Cortland, Madison, Ontario, Schuyler, and Seneca counties.

Fajans-Turner’s professional experience includes serving as executive director of BankFWD, which is described as a “network of individuals and organizations using their collective wealth and public reputation to persuade big banks to lead the fight against climate change by phasing out fossil fuel funding”.

In addition to her leadership role with BankFWD, Fajans-Turner is Director of Investable Oceans, an organization supporting sustainable investment in the oceans. Her previous work experience includes a stint as Managing Director of Sustainable Development Goals Funding for the United Nations Sustainable Development Solutions Network. She also served as associate director of the Avatar Alliance Foundation, an organization founded by Oscar-winning director James Cameron.

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Fajans-Turner told the Citizen that every Democrat in the 22nd District race is good at climate change. But she thinks she stands out for her expertise in an area of ​​climate change known as climate risk disclosure.

“I have been involved in commenting on how to define and measure climate risk disclosure,” she said. “It’s a very wonky topic, but it’s really going to govern how banks report on their exposure to fossil fuels and how they’re regulated in terms of what their business may be.”

The reason this is relevant to a congressional candidate is that the federal government can play a role in determining how to regulate Wall Street, particularly how the financial sector is causing climate change in as a fossil fuel financier.

This topic may be unfamiliar to most, but Fajans-Turner noted that experts are warning that if banks’ investments in fossil fuels are unregulated, it could lead to an economic crisis far greater than the Great Recession of 2008-09.

“It’s not alarmist,” she said. “It’s preventable. It’s a particular area of ​​interest that I don’t see as a priority for many.”

There are many ways to fight climate change through policy changes, new technologies and job creation. Fajans-Turner thinks, with her experience, she can connect those dots if elected to Congress. She believes climate sustainability can grow the middle class and uplift low-income households.

His expertise on an important issue isn’t the only thing Fajans-Turner hopes will stand out against his opponents in a crowded seven-man primary. She plans to tap into a network she has previously used to help raise money for candidates in the existing 23rd congressional district and other races, including national pageants.

“I know I can fundraise,” she said. “I know I can raise a lot of money and make it a competitive race, although I still don’t like money being a factor in these things.” She added that the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, which allows companies to spend unlimited amounts on political communications.

Fajans-Turner also wants to set an example of how a congressional candidate should campaign. It pays its campaign staff above average wages and provides health care, child care and elderly care. It also encourages its employees to unionize. And in line with her stance on environmental issues, she aims to minimize her campaign’s carbon emissions by using electric vehicles.

“I believe when you ask for the vote of the people to represent it, the representation starts now,” she said. “I don’t want to wait to be elected to act or serve this community…I want this campaign to be a force for change. It’s a tall order, but it’s essential that this is how we start to think politics.

The seven Democrats – Francis Conole, Steven Holden, Sarah Klee Hood, Chol Majok, Josh Riley and Sam Roberts are the other candidates – are circulating petitions to qualify for the June 28 primary ballot. To be eligible for the primary, they must collect 1,250 valid signatures.

The winner of the Democratic nomination will face the winner of the three-way Republican primary – Tim Ko, Mike Sigler and Brandon Williams are the candidates – in November’s general election.

Online producer Robert Harding can be reached at (315) 282-2220 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @robertharding.