An opportunity to hear how local candidates feel about sea level rise and climate change is coming to Pensacola. The event is called Tidal Town Hall, and candidates for Pensacola Mayor, Escambia County Commission and the US House of Representatives will be there taking questions. ReThink Energy Florida, a group that was formed in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, is putting on the Tidal Town Halls across the state.
"At these events, we have a panel of candidates ranging from local to congressional," said Jenn Zipperer, communications director for Rethink Energy Florida. "And the moderator asks them questions developed by our questions panel. Then the audience can submit question cards that the moderator will then pass on to the candidates to answer. So it's a very interactive event. It's designed so voters can really figure out where these candidates stand on the topic of sea level rise."
The mission statement of Rethink Energy Florida is to engage, educate and empower citizens to take action and achieve energy independence in a healthier, more sustainable environment. They hope that these town halls can educate both the public and the candidates about the effects of sea level rise. "How it affects our infrastructure and our tourism-based economy," said Zipperer. "We really (want) the candidates to take this seriously and recognize that climate change-driven sea level rise is real and it's happening here in Florida and there are things we can do about it, but we have to do those things now."
The Tidal Town Halls will be held in 15 locations across the state from Pensacola to Miami and Naples. Zipperer says this is a new experience for Rethink Energy Florida.
"This is our first time ever doing something like this. It's one of the biggest projects that we've ever taken on. We were fortunate enough to be joined by First Street Foundation, and each local event has local organizers that have joined us in sponsoring the event and getting the word out."
The Pensacola town hall is co-sponsored by the Emerald Coastkeeper, Gulf Restoration Network, Citizen's Climate Lobby and Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge.
There have already been some Tidal Town Halls held around the state. And while not all candidates attend the events, Rethink Energy Florida says they have been successful. "We've had a great turnout at each event. We are seeing a very wide variety of involvement from all levels. And it's been really great to see the candidates come out and really talk about this and give voters some answers on this topic, which typically isn't as heavily addressed as other topics."
The Pensacola Tidal Town Hall will be held Tuesday, August 14 at the West Florida Regional Library on Spring Street in Pensacola. So far a total of 14 candidates are scheduled to appear. There is no charge and you can reserve your seat at tidaltownhalls.org.