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Nancy Ward becomes first elected official in county to sign No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge

COURTESY PHOTO - Nancy Ward signs the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge at the Vernonia Salmon FestivalNancy Ward, one of the newest Port of Columbia County commissioners, has become the first elected official in Columbia County to sign the No Fossil Fuel Money Pledge created by the Sunrise Movement.

The Sunrise Movement is a youth-led nonprofit political action organization focused on stopping climate change, per the group's website.

Ward signed the pledge at the Vernonia Salmon Festival in early October after conversations with Michael Calhoun, a University of Oregon student from Vernonia.

"I am not saying every politician should be doing this, but I do think every politician should be thinking about who they align themselves with," Ward said.

By signing the pledge, elected officials and candidates agree to not take contributions exceeding $200 from lobbyists, political action committees or executives from oil, gas and coal industries.

The pledge has been signed by 1,882 elected officials and candidates nationwide. Thirty-seven of those are in Oregon.

"The message I'm trying to send is that this is not our future. We should not be looking to fossil fuels," Ward said.

Ward noted that signing the pledge doesn't mean she lives a zero-emissions life.

"I participate in this life as it is given to me, like everyone else does," Ward said.

"This isn't a matter of trying to win a popularity contest, it's really a matter of trying to establish in people's minds who I am and what I support."

Ward said she was first approached by Calhoun concerning the pledge. "I've known Michael for about four years now and come to realize what a mover and shaker this young man is," Ward said.

Calhoun, who plans to return to his hometown of Vernonia after he finishes his environmental studies program at the University of Oregon, said he was motivated to get involved in his own community.

Calhoun plans to encourage other elected officials to sign the pledge, which may be easier now that a local official has signed.

The pledge has a narrow focus, Calhoun said, "But it's part of a larger conversation of trying to get money out of politics."

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