Late last month, residents from the Los Angeles area gathered in Sylmar, equipped with notepads in hand. They’d come to learn about ways to protect the environment at a home composting and gardening lecture. LA Sanitation & Environment (LASAN), hosts environmental workshops that are held to encourage community participation in environmental initiatives.
“We do a workshop every single Saturday throughout the City of LA and it’s making people more aware of what we need to do to fix things,” said Steve List, a teacher of agriculture at Sylmar High School and an Urban Garden Lecturer. “We need more people to do that and the politicians, that’s our way of delivering the messages.”
California State Sen. Bob Hertzberg is running for the District 3 seat on the L.A. County Board of Supervisors against West Hollywood Council Member Lindsey Horvath. Hertzberg is a native Californian who represents the 18th Senate district and serves as the Majority Leader of the State Senate. He also founded the clean energy company G24 Innovations, or G24i.
Hertzberg lists his environmental record as one of his proudest accomplishments, including his recent signing of climate change and drought legislation with Gov. Gavin Newsom: SB 891, SB 1157 and SB 1254.
Current District 5 L.A. County Supervisor Kathryn Barger is the sole board member who endorses Bob Hertzberg.
“With whomever fills that third district seat, [Barger] will want the partner to make sure we are coming up with workable clean water solutions, water conservation solutions,” said Helen Chavez, assistant chief of staff for Barger. “I think to be an effective supervisor, Supervisor Barger really believes in the power of collaboration.”
However, Hertzberg has faced criticism for his environmental record because he has voted against pro-environmental bills in the past, such as 2019’s AB 345, which was to establish barrier zones for oil wells in neighborhoods.
“If Bob was so successful on these issues, why am I the candidate who’s endorsed by the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters locally, and even the state level got involved because they know that he’s the chair of what they call the polluters caucus in Sacramento,” Horvath said in a UCLA debate. “Big Oil Bob has over a quarter of a million dollars invested in his campaigns from corporate polluters.”
The Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters are two of the most prominent environmental organizations in the nation. The Sierra Club aims to engage local participation in environmental protection activities, and the League of Conservation Voters is the county’s only environmental Political Action Committee (PAC).
“We looked at their records, especially Bob Hertzberg’s record in the state legislature, and he had a fairly poor record. I think he was rated by the League of Conservation Voters as sort of in the polluter’s corner,” says Sierra Club political chair Howard Strauss. “He really single-handedly seemed to do a lot to stop some very good environmental bills from coming forward, so I think it was very important that he be stopped from being elected supervisor.”
Throughout his career, Hertzberg has been exposed by prominent environmental organizations, such as Greenpeace, for receiving funds from fossil fuel industries. He has accepted nearly $83,000 in contributions from oil and gas. More specifically, Sempra Energy, the owner of SoCalGas, has given numerous contributions to Hertzberg throughout the years.
“From the ads I see of him on TV, to the countless emails I get sent from his team, he definitely is very passionate about environmental issues,” says University of California, Irvine student and Sylmar resident Christina Chiranian. “But recent reports and tweets have been calling him Big Oil Bob and stating how he may be getting donations from oil companies. It leaves me and many voters in my district very confused; It seems like he’s playing both sides.”