Elizabeth Betancourt is a new voice for the North State. She’s a small business owner and farmer. She’s spent her career as a rural advocate for our local communities.
Elizabeth Betancourt believes in transparency – in our leaders and in our state government. Agree or disagree, Elizabeth will always tell you where she stands. She doesn’t change who she is or what she says between one group and the next.
Elizabeth sees integrity and honesty as not only personal values, but also as a value that can be applied to organizations and governments; it might be thought of as “transparency” in government. Every Californian should be able to understand a policy decision or action as well as how to change it if needed. Whether it’s how a decision is made in Sacramento that impacts our lives in the North State, or how our tax dollars get spent – there are few problems that won’t be improved by some sunlight dispelling the shadows.
Elizabeth believes in our collective ability to address both the challenges at hand and those to come. With enough effort, we can find solutions that meet all our goals – not just one side over another. She practiced this approach throughout many years of helping local jurisdictions to negotiate watershed management through the state’s Integrated Regional Water Management effort. Through that process, she helped to bring millions of dollars to organizations throughout our communities, all based on the authentic collaboration of local groups and individuals. If we are authentic in our values – staying away from political posturing – we can be optimistic about finding a way forward.
“Running a small farm operation, I know that self-discipline and hard work can make all the difference between success and just getting by.” – Elizabeth Betancourt
We live in a world of instant gratification, which fosters a lack of control or dedication to a task. Too often, people become focused instead on talent or titles. If we are going to address the problems facing our state and our region, it is going to take hard work and discipline to the task – it’s going to take North State values – to get the job done.
Faith, Liberty, Equity
“My mother believed in the ‘light of Christ’ in every person on earth, and she passed that reverence for individual value on to me. As a person of faith, I am guided by the 25th Chapter of Matthew. How we treat those around us – regardless of their station in life – is the virtue by which we as individuals will be judged. I believe these are the standards by which our culture must be judged.” – Elizabeth Betancourt
Elizabeth’s faith guides her to believe that individuals have an inherent worth and dignity that is immutable no matter what they do, say, or believe. That principle includes the belief in a person’s unalienable rights to life, liberty, and personal security as well as equal protection under the law and protection against interference with personal privacy, family, and home.
In our country, this means equity under the law. Equity means that everyone has what they need to try to succeed. Equity isn’t a guarantor of success, but it is a guarantee of a fair opportunity to work for success. Elizabeth will always make decisions based on equity as it informs fairness, and that includes celebrating our commonalities as well as our differences.
Across the North State, we share a vision to see our communities and our way of life thrive. We want to see that future generations can continue our traditions and build on our success.Elizabeth Betancourt
Conservation and Stewardship
Our region includes California’s most important river, the Sacramento, and the state’s largest reservoir, Lake Shasta. We have natural beauty and wonder from Mount Shasta to the Sierra Nevada mountain range. We built the timber, fishing, ranching and agricultural industries for generations. A skyrocketing cost of living is a threat to the sustainability of our communities.
To address these issues, we must embrace conservation and stewardship. Conservation and stewardship mean that we preserve, protect, and grow the things we care about. Our resources of land, water, and air all need our protection so our communities and economy are sustainable and successful for today’s generation of North Staters and those to come. Climate change is the overriding challenge of our time, and to address this we must conserve and steward the resources that we care about.
We must also conserve our financial and human resources – and our entrepreneurial small businesses. Our leaders must be good stewards of creation and good stewards of the budget and the public trust we put in them.
One example of this is California’s state budget: while we have had budget surplus in recent years, the stewardship and conservation approach to that resource is to save it for times when we have a budget deficit. Our personal stewardship means we don’t over extend our family budgets. Good stewardship means spending less than we bring in every month. Those kitchen table values of balancing our checkbooks should be our approach to stewardship of the state budget.
Cutting Red Tape
As a small business owner in the rural North State, I appreciate the values of good stewardship and conservation. But I have also found that state regulatory requirements are applied without consideration of business size, practice, or number of people served, and they are hampering the development of small businesses. State and local jurisdictions are not only providing inadequate help, but also actually harming these entities’ progress and growth.
Quality of Life
Quality of life means space for achievement and fulfillment of each of our God-given potential. If we are going to address the challenges of California’s future, we are going to need everyone’s help. Access to affordable educational options must be close to home and in the areas of study required for our society to be future ready, including fire and forest management, water resources protection, early childhood and primary education, technology and development, and addressing many other challenges. Education must be accessible for our rural populations.
Meeting the needs of each and every one of the inhabitants of our community should include those most basic needs of food, warmth, and shelter. California’s growing homeless population challenges not only these individuals’ unalienable rights, but those of our homed population in terms of safety and sanitation. For the sake of all affected parties, we must solve our homelessness crisis, and do so in an equitable and respectful way.
Citizenship, Rights, and Responsibility
We enjoy our freedoms – freedoms to choose how to act, what to prioritize, and the goals we pursue. With that freedom comes responsibility. Each and every one of us has an individual responsibility to speak out for our families, for our communities, for equity, and for justice.
This responsibility is outlined in the first line of our U.S. Constitution:
“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”
Citizenship is about the rights and responsibilities that come with “owning” a part of this nation. Citizenship requires action; it is about creating a civil society wherein everyone has a right to the electoral process, has equal protection under the law, and enjoys an opportunity to work for the American Dream and success. It is also about the responsibilities of obeying the law, paying taxes, and upholding the rights of other individuals and groups. Those rights and responsibilities cannot be separated. These principles must guide our next steps in thinking through what inclusion looks like in our state, how to best welcome and integrate migrants – from other states as well as from other nations – and how increasing and changing population dynamics demand responsive and adaptive policies.