Finally, Gavin Newsom, the handsome governor of California, decided to visit the Imperial Valley on March 20 to discuss the future of lithium and the opportunities that lie ahead. Sadly, it only took him five years to visit the Imperial Valley for the first time and he didn’t even address the laundry list of problems we have that need to be solved. California ignores Imperial County and has never been equitable to us.
The following are fragments of an open letter sent to Newsom written by Gil Rebollar, Andrew Arevalo, and Marco L. Perrone that share the sentiment of many of us:
In a rural, binational community located in the desert along the U.S. border, between the coast of San Diego and the state of Arizona, lies our Imperial Valley. In a region serving 179,000 residents − plus visitors from the neighboring capital city of Mexicali, off-road enthusiasts who visit the Imperial Sand Dunes each year, annual “snowbirds,” and our local prison population — there’s no way that one of the two remaining hospitals within County lines could close, right?
Whether being home to one of the most polluted rivers in America that course through the county and dumps into the drying and toxic Salton Sea, to our air quality that fails to meet federal standards, to our water being under attack and putting an entire industry at risk, or you can simply pick any of the following that one would assume would get the governor’s immediate attention:
- Nearly 1 in 4 residents live in poverty
- 85% of adults have no college degree
- The highest rate of food insecurity among children in California
- The unemployment rate is four times higher than the state average
- Lowest per capita income in the state
- 1 in 3 local senior citizens is categorized as “Hidden Poor”
- 50% of adults lacking basic literacy skills
- 1 in 5 children diagnosed with uncontrollable asthma
The blatant disregard from our esteemed governor, and potential president, has gone on far too long.
Governor Newsom, where are you?
Although we appreciate your efforts in providing aid and assistance to the hundreds of asylum seekers and families being left on our streets in the middle of the night to fend for themselves, you are still nowhere to be seen as we battle crisis after crisis.
Governor, we are not asking you to save us. At this point, not even asking for help, but to simply acknowledge us. See us. Be with us. The very least you can do is provide our community with some dignity as we fall apart in our hot and barren desert, ignored and seemingly forgotten by our very own leader whom a majority of Imperial Valley voters supported.