This is UMD for Clean Energy’s big event of the semester, and the culmination of the election phase of our Green for College Park campaign. We are looking to elect a fiercely green city council that will make College Park the gold standard for sustainability in our state. Last week we announced our endorsements, and tomorrow, we will march to the polls to vote and demonstrate that we want our city to be a green leader. Another update will come tomorrow! The Diamondback article is re-posted below. The video is from the kickoff event for our campaign back in September.
Green student activists plan election day march
In a culmination of efforts that began in September, UMD for Clean Energy, an environmental activist group at the university, is organizing a march of student voters committed to green policies to the City Council election polls at city hall tomorrow.
The Green March to the Vote begins at 5 p.m. at the sundial on McKeldin Mall and will feature a speech by alumnus Davey Rogner, a founding member of the group. Following Rogner’s speech, students will march down to the city hall in green shirts and green hard hats, while carrying wooden wind turbines.
Since the beginning of the semester, the group has been forming a Green for College Park campaign centered on an Energy Loan Fund, a pool of money to be lent out to residents to make energy-efficient upgrades in their homes. They have also held discussions with council candidates to determine their stance on environmental issues and encouraged students to vote in the elections.
“We phone banked everyone that we registered to vote as well as students who were already registered or signed up that they wanted to vote,” said UMD for Clean Energy Campaign Coordinator Matt Dernoga, a Diamondback columnist. “We’ve also been given some names of residents who live in College Park by environmental organizations, and we have been reaching out to them.”
Dernoga said they have also manned information tables and had speakers come to educate the group and university community about going green. The group has also reached out to other environmental and activist groups at the university about the cause.
The campaign, while formed around the loan fund, also deals with the state Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act, a law passed this spring that aims to create green jobs and promote clean energy. The group believes that more funding will go to cities and counties who are leaders in environmental policies, and they want College Park to be at the forefront of the green movement.
“Our campaign is aimed at getting the ball rolling,” Dernoga said. “A big aspect is a greater partnership between city and university. We have one of the greatest universities in the country sitting right in the city, and the opportunities of collaboration on alternative energy research and bringing in a green business economic incubator are tremendous.”
Laura Calabrese, UMD for Clean Energy’s organizational director, named the Energy Loan Fund and tax cuts for green businesses as ways to make College Park more attractive for green investments.
“The biggest thing we need is the loan fund idea,” Calabrese said. “If residents are being more energy efficient and if there’s a market for [retrofitting houses], it will bring more businesses that do that here.”
The group endorsed seven candidates last week: Andy Fellows for mayor, Patrick Wojahn and Fazlul Kabir in District 1, Stephanie Stullich and Mark Cook in District 3 and Marcus Afzali and Mary Cook in District 4. They did not endorse any candidates for District 2.
“One thing that I’ve learned is that it’s a hundred times easier when the officials in office see your point of view on the issues that you’re advocating for,” Dernoga said. “If not, it takes a huge grassroots hurdle to get them to see, but if you elect the right candidates, then you stand a much better chance to see what you want to happen done.”
Calabrese said the group went through their whole platform with candidates to gauge where they stood on issues.
“The way we did it was who would make a good leader and who had the most know-how about how to make these things happen,” Calabrese said. “We’re not trying to tell anyone they shouldn’t vote for anyone else, but we wanted to showcase the people who seem to be the biggest leaders and who will push to make these things happen.”