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Vote for education, clean air, and a future for wildlife

Posted by Alejandro Grajal, PhD, President and CEO

One of the most cherished rights of humans is the ability to influence our destiny. Democracies enable the right to vote, which is missing in many parts of the world. While in the United States, voters this fall may wait in long lines this election season, here in Washington all you need to do is put your ballot in the mail. Easy!

A young visitor meets a fancy friend at Molbak's Butterfly garden. Photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ.
Ballots are arriving in your mailbox now for the November ballot, and at the zoo, we are urging all of our supporters to vote.  In addition to many very important races at the local level, there are two important initiatives on the ballot.

Blueberry meets with her fanclub. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.
For those of you in Seattle, there is Prop 1, the Families,Education, Preschool and Promise Plan.  Prop 1 replaces two levies about to expire – one that helps preschool and one that targets needs in K-12 (including helping students go to community college). These levies were the result of work by our City Council, and the Mayor has given her support to their renewal, as have the local chamber of commerce and labor groups.  Summer learning opportunities, after-school programs, and investments to modernize our schools are part of the levy.

At the zoo, we envision a world where all children can experience nature, learn and care about animals, and help save wildlife. The Families, Education, Preschool and Promise Plan is perfectly aligned with our mission. It will continue to create more access for educational opportunities and expand educational support to those who need it the most. 

I applaud our local elected officials in Seattle, both for creating the original levy and for working diligently on this renewal. Mayor Durkan has personally been very focused on this levy, which will make early learning a priority in Seattle, no matter where you live.

Youth volunteers engage young visitors in climate change solutions. Photo by Dennis Dow/WPZ.
Across Washington state, the zoo has been committed in its support of Initiative 1631. If passed, Initiative 1631 would be the first Carbon Fee enacted by popular vote in the world. Woodland Park Zoo fully endorses Initiative 1631 because the health of the Puget Sound region, its people, and wildlife are impacted by carbon pollution that leads to longer fire seasons, decreasing snowpack which impacts our clean drinking water and causes droughts, and ocean acidification.
Initiative 1631 will appear on your ballot as, “Initiative Measure No. 1631 concerns pollution.” The Initiative is composed of one of the broadest citizen coalitions of any ballot in the state’s memory, from farm groups to Tribes, to businesses and community organizations. The law will generate approximately $2 billion over 5 years, but the funds can only be spent on clean energy jobs and infrastructure, clean water, healthy forests, and investing in our local communities. Every investment will be overseen by a public board comprised of experts from science, business, health, and communities throughout the state. 

A river otter looks up in between diving for fish. Photo by John Loughlin/WPZ.
This past summer, Seattle witnessed firsthand the impacts of climate change from burning wildfires across the Pacific Northwest. Choking smoke and a haze that limited visibility created unhealthy breathing conditions for everyone. Fire has always been a natural part of our ecosystem and many species rely on the renewal created by wildfires. Unfortunately, this cycle of renewal that used to take place over generations has accelerated with hotter, drier weather that lasts longer during the summer months. Climate change in our region is stretching fire season from early spring through late fall, destroying critical habitat for animals and plaguing our summers with unbreathable air. 

Alejandro Grajal with Coba, a spectacled owl. Photo by Jeremy Dwyer-Lindgren/WPZ.
Climate change and early learning are two topics that matter deeply to younger people.  So we are calling on all people, especially those who are age 18 to 29 to really make a difference with your vote. Our educational system, our early learning and pre-school opportunities, our community colleges, the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the forests around us – much depends on your vote. Take the time to get informed and vote this November.  It could be the most important vote you will ever cast.

Mail-in ballots are due by November 6th.


Anonymous said…
The fires that choked us,these last 2 years, were from Canada!This bill will not stop the fires started by lightning! Please know that this law will hurt families with higher costs in our already clean electricity and natural gas heating bills! With the higher and higher gas taxes, families will be discouraged to drive into the city to see our lovely zoo!! There should be a bill to clean up our local waters in Seattle from all the human waste, garbage, and drug debris, too! Have you looked under the Ship Canal bridge, lately?