Goodson stated, "We need her voice for our community." Goodson stated that while women make up 52 percent of the population of Escambia County, women are grossly underrepresented in government. Goodson noted that we need to be as concerned about women's rights as water rights.
The Reverend H.K. Matthews, who just celebrated his 88th birthday last week, was unable to attend and lend his prestige and status as the county's leading civil rights leader to her campaign.
Ms. Mitchell told her supporters and the community at large that she pledged to be their voice in government on water issues. Since November she has been walking door-to-door introducing herself and writing down residents' views on water issues affecting them and their neighborhood. She plans to hold more "listening" events at community centers. Ms. Mitchell stated that while a Flint situation is not possible in Escambia County because of the filter system in place, she wanted all residents to be assured that she will work to maintain the highest quality water standards.
Although Ms. Mitchell did not talk about specific issues and concerns, it is known that she is aware of the issue of the potential coal ash contamination of our underground aquifer. Last Sunday, Ms. Laurie Murphy, executive director of the Emerald Coastkeeper organization, wrote a powerful essay in the Pensacola News Journal explaining that "Florida law does not regulate coal ash ponds." Emerald Coastkeeper is actually conducting its own "groundwater monitoring." There are two coal ash storage ponds in Escambia County--at the Southern Company's Crist Plant located near the Escambia River and one at Gulf Power.
Another local water issue that has drawn opposition from concerned residents is ECUA's proposed construction of two 35-foot to 45-foot tall storage tanks holding a total of six million gallons of raw sewage on Palafox Street near a historic district and the business district of downtown Pensacola. Ms. Melanie Nichols, president of the North Hill Preservation Association pointed out that ECUA did not inform local residents of the planned sewage tanks in a timely manner. Undoubtedly, Ms. Mitchell will be addressing this pressing issue that threatens the welfare and lives of local residents, as well as their home property and business values. Another 750,000 gallon sewage tank and pumping station located on Pensacola Beach has also drawn the ire of local residents, according to a Pensacola News Journal article.
ThinkProgress, a progressive website, reported that on January 29, 2016, that "the Florida House approved a bill that would allow fracking to take place throughout the state as early as 2017, following an inquiry into the environmental and health impacts of the practice. The bill does not require fracking companies to disclose the chemicals or potential carcinogens used in the process, however, and includes a ban on local communities banning the practice entirely."
Whatever the Florida bill allows or does not allow, an environmental voice listening to residents of Escambia County, will be vital as northwest Florida confronts the reality that a fracking accident could contaminate our underground water supply.
Below are videos of the campaign event.
Water is vital to humans. Without water, we will not survive. Contaminated water, as Flint has shown, can have deadly and catastrophic effects on young children and adults. Escambia County has serious water issues that need to be addressed. We need an advocate who is willing to listen to the community and willing to stand up and fight for the community.
I think Ms. Mitchell can be that voice.