This weekend we celebrate Earth Day. As many of you know, the largest secular holiday on the planet has its roots in Santa Barbara and is celebrated in almost 200 countries, bringing attention to the importance of good environmental stewardship. As a third-generation California rancher, I understand and appreciate the importance of taking care of the land entrusted to us, to ensure the resources provided are preserved for future generations. I’d like to share with you my beliefs on the importance of husbandry in marking the occasion of Earth Day, and some issues I find concerning about our current representative in Congress.

Generations ago, our forefathers settled the land along the Central Coast that we now call home. They learned many things from the Spanish and Native Americans, but one of the most important was proper land management. “Land” management doesn’t have to be a four-letter word and for centuries it wasn’t. Only recently, have radicals taken the principles of range management and attached a negative connotation to the practice. I believe that we can and must provide a buffer between wild lands and civilization. I believe there is nothing wrong with preserving a habitat for endangered species. I do, however, know that our ancestors, as a matter of public safety, understood that we must ensure a well-maintained separation between the two. This offers protection from the threats of wildfire. Given the opportunity, in Washington, I would support measures to protect both the environment in which we live and the environment around us by reintroducing these practices — practices that Salud Carbajal voted against, more than once, during his short time in Congress.

Responsible environmentalism, to me, means that we must be careful not to squander the resources we have, and that we must find alternatives to carbon-based fuels. I’m in support of investing in approaches that lead us to that future, even though we are years from being able to free ourselves from the need for the use of these fuels. What has boggled my mind, is the political charade presented by my opponent that center around Oil & Gas.

The offshore rigs seen in the waters between Santa Barbara and the Channel Islands are a constant reminder of the unfortunate events of 1969. Expanding offshore drilling here in California is a moot point, because state and local jurisdictions won’t allow it. However, if you listen to Mr. Carbajal, you would be led to believe that there is an imminent threat to our coastline posed by the Feds, Exxon Mobil and BP. It was a different tune sung from his lips just a few years ago when, in 2008, County Supervisor Carbajal lobbied for and voted for new offshore drilling in Santa Barbara County. Now, he masquerades across the district, pretending to champion an end to this industry. Since entering his first bid Congress, Salud Carbajal has taken more than $50,000 in contributions to his campaign coffers from Oil & Gas interests — making you wonder where his loyalties truly lie.

If we are to have hope of a future where we are not dependent on fossil fuels, we certainly can’t place our trust in politicians who glad-hand and pander on issues so important to our future and public safety. We need honesty from our public servants, not hypocrisy. We need solutions, not empty rhetoric. As your Congressman, I’ll fight to bring common-sense solutions to the table. I’ll be a fresh voice in the dialogue, and for once, you’ll have someone who echoes your concerns — putting Central Coast values and families first. Let’s remember the importance of what Earth Day represents and let’s advocate for responsible land management, good stewardship of our natural resources and honesty in the process.