This Senate candidate is focused on one issue – climate change

This Senate candidate is focused on one issue – climate change

By Davia Rivka

Bill put on his first pair of skis when he was five. That was in Vermont, where the snow is wet and heavy and the mountains have been weathered and softened over time. But that didn’t matter to a five-year-old. He was entranced. But as he got older the West called to him. He wanted to go where the mountains are mountains and the snow is dry and light. When he made his new home in Utah, he discovered more than snow. A magical world of red rock canyons, off road trails for biking, vast and remote chunks of nature to explore and the big open sky.

Bill Barron

CCL Wild West Regional Coordinator Bill Barron is running for U.S. Senate in Utah.

Bill Barron is running unaffiliated for U.S. Senate, from the state of Utah. He only has one issue. Climate Change.

“I’m the least likely guy you’ll ever see running for U.S. Senate. I’m very shy. Talking to people makes me nervous and talking to groups terrifies me. I’d rather be on an adventure by bike, skiing through fresh powder or hiking one of Utah’s magnificent peaks. But that’s not how it turned out.”

What compels a shy, reticent guy to become a candidate for the U.S. Senate?

“I’ve been on the Alta Ski Patrol since 1994. I could see what was happening. Warmer temperatures were having an impact on the amount and quality of snow. We used to get just dumped on day after day with this light airy snow. Not so anymore. Now there are winter days when it rains on top of the mountain. Speaking up for nature; preserving the mountains, valleys, rivers and canyons, means everything to me. I could see that rising temperatures could eventually destroy everything I love. There was a moment when I realized that if I wanted to stand for what I believe in I was going to have to do things that were uncomfortable, very uncomfortable.”

In 2012 Bill was working as a full time carpenter, building homes from the ground up, doing renovations and remodels. But his passion was climate change. Citizens’ Climate Lobby taught him to stretch and gave him a way to focus his efforts. The work with CCL helped him see he could take it to another level.

So he decided to run for U.S. Senate. “I had indigestion for two months just thinking about taking it on! But the issue was so important to me that I was willing to go for it, terror be damned. As soon as I saw the value of running for office, there was no way I could back out. The campaign would give me a platform to stand for what is right. And it would be an opportunity for others to be empowered by their vote. I decided to run unaffiliated on one issue. Climate change.”

This is what he tells the voters:

“My goal in this campaign is to inspire 10% of Utah voters to use their vote to send a strong statement to Washington: Utah wants an effective, non-partisan, transparent solution to climate change. Ten percent of voters can inspire political change. Your vote will urge Congress to work together, bridge political divides, and pass legislation in 2017 to reduce the impacts of climate change. Our future and our children’s futures depend on it.”

In 2012 Bill ran against Orrin Hatch and got .7% of the vote. In 2014 he ran for the U.S. House of Representatives and got 1.5% of the vote. And now in the 2016 U.S. Senate race, the polls are showing him with 6% of the vote. He is no longer the only person talking about climate change.

“I want to use my voice to inspire politicians in office to come together and unite on what is the most urgent issue of our time.” His is a quiet, relentless voice.

So instead of shaking hands and kissing babies, Bill sets out on September 7th for his self-powered climate campaign; from Utah’s highest peak to the lowest point. He will begin by hiking Kings Peak, a 13,500-foot summit, with his two older brothers — that’s 26 miles. From there he will go overland by bike across the state to highlight Utah’s natural beauty and areas which are being affected by fossil fuel extraction. He will stop at the open coal strip mine close to Bryce national park, to underscore the fact that air quality issues are affecting natural lands too. His daily video blogs with live stream clips will give folks a chance to join him in Utah’s most beautiful natural places, to see for themselves the beauty that is worth preserving.

Bill is swinging way outside of his cozy and everything familiar life. He’s doing it because he loves to ski, he loves to bike and his spirit gets re-energized in places of natural beauty.

If this speaks to you, swing out of your cozy place. Think about who you know in Utah and tell them what Bill is up to. Write a letter to the paper and talk about this guy in Utah who is doing what we believe is right. Get more people around the country to spark more conversation. Or consider running for office. Single issue. Climate Change. All voices needed.

Davia Rivka is a Los Angeles-based climate change warrior who is hard at work on her second book: a collection of inspirational stories about the extraordinary work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers. Check out her blog atdaviarivka.com.