Name: Merav Ben-David
Party Affiliation: Democrat
Profession: University Professor
Education: Ph.D. in Wildlife Management
M.Sc. in Wildlife Ecology
B.Sc. in Wildlife Biology
Experience: I have been a climate scientist and professor of Wildlife Ecology at the University of Wyoming for more than 20 years. During this time, I’ve trained and mentored over 1,300 biology and wildlife students from across the state. My students and their families live all around the state, and I have built relationships with their communities.
My leadership experience comes from being the principal investigator on over 70 research projects, as well as from serving as the Chief Scientist on an Icebreaker expedition to the Arctic Ocean that did groundbreaking climate change research. I have also served as the scientific advisor for several federal and non-governmental organizations.
I have won several awards, including the UWYO tenured faculty OWN IT! award, the Excellence in Wildlife Education from the Wildlife Society, the Educator of the Year Award from the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation, and the T. S. Harris faculty award (twice). Finally, I have been named as the most influential mentor by several of my military veteran students.
What motivated you to run for this position?
I’m running for the US Senate because I see our young people forced to leave the state to find good work. I see layoffs in the oil fields, the coal mines, and across all other industries, without alternative opportunities for workers.
When I think about how we got here, what I see are politicians who put ideology over evidence. I’m not a career politician - I’m a scientist. We solve problems by asking the relevant questions, looking at all the facts and data, and drawing evidence-based conclusions. The need for such a perspective is clearer than ever as we struggle to reduce the loss of life and economic downturn from COVID19.
Growing up on a farm, serving in the military, being an educator and trained as a scientist have provided me with the tools to develop legislation that supports a holistic vision for Wyoming, our economy, and our future.
What do you consider to be the top three problems facing people running for this office, and how, specifically, would you solve them?
COVID19 and the resulting economic recession have left millions of Americans unemployed and uninsured. Medical costs are the main cause of bankruptcies, homelessness and hunger in the US. Leaving Americans without the ability to feed their families, keep their homes, and access healthcare in the middle of a pandemic is unconscionable.
Even before COVID19 hit, however, the long-term decline in the demand for coal and oil left thousands of Wyomingites jobless. As the global demand for fossil fuels declines, so could more than 50 percent of Wyoming’s economy. We’ve already lost significant portions of our revenue, triggering additional budget cuts that will cost more jobs across industries and the state.
My platform for Wyoming is based on three main pillars: rescue, reimagine, and rebuild.
Rescue: As long as the pandemic still rages, we must ensure that every Wyomingite and every American can keep a roof over their head and can feed their family. That means we must pass the HEROES Act and make sure Americans get another stimulus.
Reimagine: We need to think of Wyoming as more than just an energy producing state. We have so much more to offer! We can attract new innovative industries (think of biotechnology, artificial intelligence, robotics, and renewable energy) that provide high paying, stable jobs with good benefits. But we can’t be good for business if we aren’t good for workers too. Companies won’t want to come to Wyoming if they don’t think they’ll be able to bring talent with them. And people won’t want to move to Wyoming if they’re worried about their spouse’s job prospects, or their child’s schooling, or access to a good doctor.
Rebuild: We can use FDR’s New Deal as a blueprint to rebuild our state and our country by investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure and job retraining programs, all while protecting our environment and our shared values.
To do this, we will need strong leadership at the national level, and that’s why I’m running for the US Senate.
What three policy issues set you apart from your opponents?
1. I support a federal jobs guarantee. Let's hire people to install solar panels, plug up abandoned wells, repair roads, clean our parks, and lay broadband cables - and pay them well for it. We’ll reduce unemployment and modernize our infrastructure all at once.
2. People of color, LGBTQ+ folks, and other minorities are faced with discrimination in housing, employment, and health care. It’s time to end this systemic racism, which is why I wholeheartedly support the Equal Rights Amendment.
3. Wyoming public lands provide Wyomingites with clean air and water, access to recreation, hunting and fishing, grazing, and other non-disruptive uses, but the current administration is expediting the auction of public land leases to fossil fuel conglomerates. I am a staunch defender of our Public Lands, and will make sure they are kept in public hands.