With Watsonville’s City Plaza as the backdrop, Democrat Adam Bolaños Scow announced Oct. 15 that he will challenge U.S. Rep. Jimmy Panetta in next year’s primary election.
A longtime advocate and strategist for environmental issues, Scow said he plans to focus his campaign on affordable housing and climate change, as well as providing free higher education and health care, and creating a path to citizenship for the numerous immigrants living in the district.
Panetta, D-Carmel, is seeking a third term representing California’s 20th District, which includes San Benito County and half of the city of Gilroy.
Scow is a senior strategist for Public Water Now, a community organization working to win public ownership of the water system on the Monterey Peninsula.
Last year he helped Public Water Now pass Measure J to begin the process of bringing public ownership to the water system. The measure was approved by a wide margin despite California-American Water’s $3 million campaign opposing it.
Scow also helped pass Measure Z, making Monterey County the first major oil-producing county in the nation to ban fracking and new oil wells. The campaign won despite more than $5 million spent by the oil industry in opposition.
Scow has also served as the California director of Food & Water Watch, where he helped pass legislation to establish a human right to clean water and a bill to win overtime pay for farmworkers.
“I think we can win because we’ve shown we can win as underdogs in some of the campaigns I’ve been a part of,” Scow said. “We’re going to run a grassroots campaign. We’re going to be in the field. We’re going to be talking to voters throughout this district. We’re going to be talking about the real issues.”
Scow said he was a supporter of a Green New Deal with a national plan to achieve 100 percent renewable energy by 2030.
Scow also said he will not take any corporate donations during his campaign.
“We have a campaign finance system that’s corrupt and built on bribery,” he said. “We’re not going to take any corporate money in this campaign because that’s wrong and that’s compromising. We want to set a model similar to what Sen. [Bernie] Sanders and Sen. [Elizabeth] Warren are doing at a national level.”
Scow said he is the son of public schoolteachers and the grandson of a bracero farmworker from Oaxaca, Mexico who worked in Watsonville and the Salinas Valley.
Because of that family history, he decided to announce the launch of his campaign in Watsonville’s historic plaza. He also said he wants to be the champion for farmworkers that he said have been left behind by current policy.
“Every day I drive by the strawberry fields and I see these people breaking their backs to feed us,” said Scow, who moved to Watsonville this summer. “It just puts a knot in my stomach that they’re living in fear—living in the shadows—and that our system has failed them.”
Tony Nunez is managing editor of The Pajaronian in Watsonville.