In August I met with Councilman Ken Summers. Our meeting was scheduled for 30 minutes and went for over an hour. I met with Ken because he is the new guy and we haven't met yet and because people told me that he was sort of the enemy. Terms like "climate denier" have been thrown around to describe Ken.
I think Ken has been mis-understood. He is not a "climate denier". He is a conservative person. He has conservative social and economic values and he values our environment too. He is wary of those he would call "envio-extremists" who don't take into account social and economic considerations. The impressions that some in our community have of Ken and his impressions of them is the result of poor communication.
Ken and I had a long conversation and decided that we like each other very much, but it took some patience and clarifying communication on both our parts to get there. He has said some things and written some emails that are easily misunderstood if you don't know him. For example, Ken thinks that some people think that Fort Collins' climate actions will save the world on their own. He made confusing statements about this that some people have taken as "climate denialism". He is not a climate denier, he just did a poor job of pointing out the reality that we can't save the world on our own. That doesn't mean that he thinks we shouldn't take action. He also points out that we need to consider social and economic implications of climate action. Again, that doesn't mean that he doesn't want to take action. He doesn't have a full grasp of FTC climate and energy goals (but neither does City staff, so...). He does have the wrong impression of the climate activists in town and they do have the wrong impression of Ken. I look forward to working with Ken, to bridging the divide in our town, to achieving our goals in an inclusive way, without labels and name calling. Sustainability is about all of us and Ken and I can work together to achieve our goals.
Here's Ken's response to his constituents about our Solar Rent Your Roof campaign:
Thank you for your feedback and support of Fort Collins considering leasing roof tops for solar energy. This is an idea that I have considered for a number of years as a good approach to meeting renewable energy standards. I am pleased to learn that there has been some progress in various communities to utilize this approach. I look forward to bringing a request to staff to consider this as an important approach for our solar energy program. Your continued interest and support will be most helpful.