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2021 Wildfires in Northern California as of August 9, 2021 (Photo: CalFire)

Burning Support: The Effect of Wildfires on the Recall Election

More and more people in wildfire affected areas are siding with recalling Newsom

By Evan Symon, August 10, 2021 2:20 am

With the 2021 California Gubernatorial recall election now approaching the one-month-to-go mark at the end of this week, major Californian issues are becoming more and more front and center. Governor Gavin Newsom keeps defending his COVID-19 response as Governor, while recall candidates are now focusing on issues such as homelessness, taxes, and the minimum wage.

However, one of the largest issues still stands out: wildfires. Throughout Newsom’s term, he has both poured money into stopping wildfires and halted funds. For example, in April he signed off on a $536 million wildfire suppression package, but then in June severely rolled back wildfire fuel reduction treatments by over $500 million. Newsom has also taken to visiting areas destroyed by wildfires as publicity stops, such as visiting an area ravaged by the North Complex Fire last year to sign an inmate firefighter bill, as well as taking multiple interviews this weekend in the remains of Greenville, which was destroyed by the Dixie Fire earlier this month.

While recall candidates have not jumped on the issue, they have all generally at least shown some preference in increasing wildfire reduction funding. Many wildfire fighters, who have also joined in battling wildfires across the West and even in Australia, have begun to signal preference for recalling Newsom due to the lack of more funding. California had to ask other states and countries like Australia and Canada to return the favor and help them out with fires last year, showing significant gaps in funding. The size of the Dixie Fire in Northern California, now the second largest wildfire in California history, has brought the funding question up again this year as wildfire fighters are struggling to put out the blaze.

“No one has asked us that before,” said volunteer wildfire fighter Angelo Sorola to the Globe from Plumas County on Monday. “But, yeah, all of us from California are planning to vote to recall him. I don’t know who we are all thinking of picking to replace him, but the feeling is we want him out and someone who will actually support us go in. We don’t speak for all firefighters, obviously, but I’ve talked with groups around the state about this today and everyone who said that they are voting said they don’t want him in.”

Two other firefighters who did not wish to be named in Lassen County gave a similar story, with them only adding that most wildfire fighters right now were more concerned with extinguishing the fire rather than voting.

“We have people to save first,” said of of the anonymous fires. “That’s the priority.”

For residents who have fled wildfires in recent years across the state, a similar recall phenomenon is happening.

“I’m not asking all of these people in need of help how they are voting,” began Claire Harper, who has helped find temporary shelter for wildfire victims in the last several years, to the Globe. “But every single family has expressed disappointment that the state couldn’t do anymore. I did notice a shift last year though. They weren’t mad at the state anymore. They changed that to Newsom. They began calling him out by name.”

“Two major things are happening. Climate change is making these fires worse, and more people have put the blame from California to the Governor. I began to see it in 2019, but it really became apparent last year and I’m noticing it again this year. This didn’t happen when Brown was in office either. It just fell this way.”

Wildfires and the recall

Worsening wildfires have already begun to have an effect. While wildfire-affected North Country counties such as Plumas and Butte are strongly Republican and a shift in votes has not really been seen, wildfire ravaged counties on the North Coast, usually a Democratic stronghold, are now slightly leaning towards recalling Newsom. While many factors are at play here, such as the drought hitting the area hard and hurting many locals, the intensity of wildfires has also been a major factor in swinging votes. And, according to experts, they aren’t the only ones.

“Wildfires threaten Los Angeles, a lot of the Bay area, forested areas near Sacramento, and forested areas near San Diego,” explained former lobbyist Harry Schultz to the Globe on Monday. “Last year we had LA landmarks nearly being destroyed by fires and fires around San Francisco being so bad that the sky glowed orange. This is not just an issue that affects Northern Californian voters.”

“What we’re seeing are more and more people being affected by these fires and being hurt by policies under Newsom. Is Newsom responsible for the fires? No, of course not. Nor is he responsible for the response, taking them out, and more. What he can be accountable for is the more longer-term effects, such as helping funnel money into programs and approving wildfire plans. And although he has done that, many feel that it hasn’t been enough or that he has been targeting the wrong things.”

“Recall candidates will probably talk more about this in coming weeks, especially if the Dixie fire grows more or a wildfire sparks outside a major city. And for every fire, you’re going to have more and more people against Newsom. They’re blaming him personally now for some of these failings. He’s been trying to get a lid on it through personal visits to areas burned up by these fires, but these visits don’t mean anything if you can’t put forward help. And that’s why more and more people in these wildfire-burned areas are trying to get him recalled. His policies either haven’t worked or haven’t done enough.”

The recall election will be held on September 14th. Mail-in ballots are due to go out soon.

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Evan Symon
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6 thoughts on “Burning Support: The Effect of Wildfires on the Recall Election

  1. The problem is that Newsom is in the back-pocket of the enviro-whackjobs that don’t believe in controlled burns, or forest management of any kind… they just want it all left “natural” and we get these intense fires that generate their own weather micro-systems, the heat is so intense…>
    Plus, they ignore the TONS of carbon & particulate matter that these massive wildfires generate in their blind adherence to worshiping Gaia…

    (I imagine most of them live in San Franfreakshow and wear Birkenstocks year round… #Clownshow)

    1. True, but some of the Eco-Nazis support controlled burns, hoping they get out of hand and burn homes in rural areas. Then they fight like hell to prevent reconstruction. The objective is to force the dislocated into urban high rise projects, making the dislocated completely dependent on government for survival. Let’s call it Incendiary Progressiveness.

  2. funny, i thought the big issue was hospital beds. for instance. 10 icu beds are available in your hospital. 20 people are sick with covid and need icu beds. 10 people are taxpaying citizens. 10 people are non citizen immigrants and came to this country with covid. who gets the beds? do you give all 10 to the citizens who have supported the system financially their entire lives. do you split it between citizens and non citizens. is it first come first serve. do you give all 10 beds to non citizens. i guess it doesnt matter unless you need the bed. good riddance der kommisar.

  3. Climate Change has NOTHING to do with Fuel Accumulation. I personally criss-crossed the Sierra Nevada around 2013 and every rest stop we took a break in I was astounded at the amount of fuel and commented if that ignites it won’t go out easy. In this case I’d rather not be correct. We crossed at Kennedy Meadows to Kernville then back over Tiago pass up to Sonora Pass then west to Reading nothing but Fuel on the floor deep and thick, Climate Change didn’t do that, complete dereliction of Management.

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