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Tuesday June 5, 2018 — California Primary Election
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United States

U.S. House of RepresentativesCandidate for District 5

Photo of Nils Palsson

Nils Palsson

Teacher/Nonprofit Director
12,153 votes (8.1%)
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My Top 3 Priorities

  • Getting money out of politics, fighting for electoral reform, and reclaiming our democracy.
  • Ensuring top-quality education, universal health care and affordable housing for all.
  • Bold leadership on the crises of climate change, wealth inequality and racial injustice. Achieving social, environmental and economic justice for ALL.



Profession:Father, Teacher, Nonprofit Director
Communications Director, Transition US (2015–current)
Teacher of Anatomy and Physiology, The World School (2016–current)
Elected Delegate for Bernie Sanders, California Congressional District 5 Democratic Caucus — Elected position (2016–2016)
Grassroots Community Organizer, Transition Lake County — Elected position (2010–2016)
Teacher of History, Kelseyville High School (2014–2015)
Delegate to United States Social Forum in 2007, 2010 and 2015, Local community members — Appointed position (2007–2015)
Public School Teacher, Lake County, CA (2010–2014)
Solar Energy Consultant, Bay Solar (2006–2007)


California Institute of Integral Studies Master of Fine Arts, Writing and Consciousness (2017)
Dominican University of California's School of Education and Counseling Psychology Certificate, Single Subject Teaching: History (2014)
New York University Bachelor of Arts, History (2006)
New York University Bachelor of Arts, English (2006)
New York University Certificate, Nongovernmental Organizations (2006)


Nils Palsson is a father, author, teacher, community organizer, and candidate for US Congress in CA's 5th District. Nils serves as Communications Director for Transition US, the nonprofit national hub of the global “transition towns” movement to build local resilience. He also teaches Anatomy, Kinesiology and other life sciences at the World School in San Francisco, and recently earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing & Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

Born in San Francisco in 1985 and raised in the coastal town of Pacifica, Nils moved to Manhattan at the age of 18, where he completed his Bachelor of Arts degrees in History and English, with honors, at New York University in 2006. Having edited and published an underground newspaper after being censored in high school, Nils later became an award-winning editor at NYU’s daily Washington Square News. Working at night, Nils also earned a Certificate in Nongovernmental Organizations from NYU’s School of Continuing and Professional Studies. He has travelled extensively throughout the U.S., Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and South America.

After losing his father in 2008, Nils moved to the mountains in Northern California’s rural Lake County, initially serving as a holistic healer and substitute teacher, and later emerging as a grassroots community organizer. Nils co-founded Transition Lake County to vessel the movement toward community resilience and local empowerment. He also served as the host of the weekly Wake Up & Thrive program on KPFZ Lake County Community Radio and started the annual Hands Around Clear Lake gathering alongside Pomo first nation elders. His previous work experience includes serving as a solar energy consultant, substitute teacher, and carpenter's union employee.

After the birth of his daughter in 2012, Nils began to work toward a secondary teaching credential at Dominican University of California in Ukiah and became a teacher of people’s history at the rural Kelseyville High School. In 2015, Nils paused an emerging teaching career to pursue a graduate degree in writing, begin his memoirs, and run for United States House of Representatives.

A passionate advocate for social, racial, environmental and economic justice, Nils was elected as a Delegate for Bernie Sanders in the 2016 election, while also challenging a nine-term corporate incumbent for the congressional seat in California’s 5th District. In the June 2016 CA Primary, Nils came in third place, earning 12.5 percent of the vote, with over 23,000 citizens voting for this political outsider. Nils was also a delegate to the US Social Forum in Atlanta in 2007, Detroit in 2010, and San Jose in 2015. He has worked intensively on a number of campaigns and local, grassroots causes. Since his 2016 campaign, Nils has been working in community to build toward an epic victory for planet and people in the 2018 Midterm Election.

During the 2016 campaign, Nils was displaced from his home by the historic 2015 Valley Fire. He was recognized internationally for his role in supporting his community through the challenges of this natural disaster, and has subsequently become a certified first responder and led workshops on community resilience and emergency preparedness. He relocated to Santa Rosa one year before the legendary 2017 wildfires and was temporarily evacuated from his home during that episode as well.

In addition to spending lots of time with his family, working two jobs and running for office, Nils is weaving his narrative together into an intimate autobiographical exploration. The book, Go Back and Fetch It, will be published serially beginning in 2019.

Nils lives in Sonoma County, CA, with his daughter, Satya Rose.

Questions & Answers

Questions from League of Women Voters of California Education Fund (5)

What financing method(s) would you support to repair or improve roads, rails, ports, airports, the electrical grid and other infrastructure in the U.S.?
Answer from Nils Palsson:

As a US Representative, I will support infrastructure-building and job-creating legislation like the Rebuild America Act proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders. Our country currently spends a woefully inadequate 2% of our GDP on infrastructure, while most other leading nations spend four times that. Bridges are collapsing, roads are falling apart, transit systems have fallen behind global standards, many of our nation’s seaports and dams are deficient, our drinking water is compromised and our electrical grid is outdated. It’s clear that we need to make some broad infrastructural improvements, and the great opportunity here is that, while rebuilding and improving our country, we can put over 13 million Americans to work in the process.


In line with the comprehensive Rebuild America Act, I would propose doubling current funding for our highways and establishing a ‘National Infrastructure Bank’ to bring in over $125b in private capital to fund new projects. The Rebuild America Act, which I support wholeheartedly and will champion vocally on the House floor, calls for investing $75b in upgrading passenger and freight rail lines, over $12b to improve airports nationwide and over $17b to upgrade air traffic control technology, all of which will bring American transit in the 21st century and create countless jobs.


Meanwhile, the infrastructure plan I support will invest $15b over five years to improve inland waterways, shipping channels and coastal harbors, and $12b a year to improve the over 4,000 dams in America that have been deemed “likely to fail” during a major flood. Additionally, the Act allocates $12b annually toward protecting water quality by improving drinking water systems, wastewater plants and stormwater infrastructure. To improve the sustainability and resiliency of our electrical grid, I propose investing $10b a year to modernize power generation, transmission and distribution in a way that favors locally generated and renewable energy like wind and solar, and another $5b a year to improve broadband network access to all Americans.


Since our failing infrastructure already costs us over $200b a year, this $1 trillion investment is completely sound. It is about more than rebuilding a crumbling system and bringing America into the modern age; it is about jobs with justice. Under this plan, over 12 million Americans will be employed locally in stable jobs with dignity, and the rebuilding projects will require materials and equipment whose creation will spur further job growth. The plan of investing massively in infrastructure is supported by labor organizations, the US Chamber of Commerce, and even acknowledged by the International Monetary Fund as likely to result in almost $3 of economic output for every dollar spent. Investing in our infrastructure — and getting Americans back to work — is a huge priority, and must be treated that way. 


We can pay for this all by requiring corporations to pay their fair share of taxes on the money they have shifted to the Cayman Islands and other offshore tax havens, estimated by the Congressional Research Services to create losses of nearly $100 billion a year.


What programs or legislation, if any, would you support to help Americans of all ages secure affordable health care?
Answer from Nils Palsson:
I passionately and enthusiastically support investing in a comprehensive “Medicare for All” plan, very much in line with that proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders — a plan that ensures that all American receive the top-quality health care they need, regardless of their income. When I lost my father to cancer, and our family home to his medical debt incurred in this for-profit medical system, it became abundantly clear to me that we need to transform our health care system to catch up with the rest of the developed world in offering excellent acre to everyone, not just the wealthy. We must build on the Affordable Care Act to create a system that doesn’t simply mandate insurance, but that actually provides a single-payer system that meets the needs of our families and communities. The ‘Medicare for All’ bill that I support and will be a leading proponent of in Congress moves to an integrated, universal, single-payer system that includes all Americans and leaves no one out in the cold. This plan, which emphasizes preventative care and creating a healthier culture overall, will cost over $6 trillion *less* than the current health care system over the next ten years, and will result in savings of over $5,000 a year for the average family and nearly $10,000 a year in healthcare care costs for the average employee. The plan is fully funded by a couple of simple measures, including a 6.2% income-based healthcare premium paid by employers, a 2.2% income-based premium paid by households, and (most importantly) progressive income tax rates that require wealthier individuals to pick up a fairer proportion of the national tax burden, freeing up working-class families to invest in education, health care and other basic needs. Additionally, taxing capital gains the same as income from work will raise $92 billion in annual revenue, maintaining the Estate Tax as a responsible and fair measure for all people will raise over $21 billion a year, and limiting tax deductions for the rich will raise over $15 billion a year. Furthermore, the savings from health care expenditures in the current for-profit system will raise a total of $310 billion annually. This is more than enough to create a Medicare for All system in which top-quality health care is a right for all Americans.
Describe an immigration policy that you would support if presented to the House.
Answer from Nils Palsson:

I support a just and comprehensive immigration plan that honors immigrant rights, keeps families together, and creates a path to citizenship for undocumented immigrants living in the United States, while continuing to maintain a secure country for all. This is a complex issue, and solutions abound. Over 85% of the nation’s undocumented immigrants have resided in the US for over five years. I support the protection of DREAMers and the expansion of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and DAPA (Deferred Action for Parents of Americans), as well as Temporary Protected Status for refugees and asylum-seekers. I support legislation that protects immigrant workers who are exercising their rights in the workplace. I support permanent immigration relief to immigrant families, including “parole-in-place” procedures and paths to permanent residency and citizenship. I support a separation between law enforcement and immigration enforcement, to ensure that no residents have reason to fear police officers. I support properly funding our nation’s immigration courts and expanding access to legal counsel for immigrants, closing loopholes that allow racial profiling by federal authorities, and ending for-profit detention of immigrants (especially the cruel and unjust practice of detaining families and children). 


With a just and comprehensive immigration plan, we can gradually and securely welcome over 11 million new Americans with a reasonable fair wait for citizenship that keeps families together and provides a road-map for nonviolent individuals to become citizens. I support a demilitarized border, and a broad accountability review of Border Patrol checkpoints to ensure that our border agents are treating immigrants and asylum-seekers with respect and dignity. We can create a future America that we can be proud of by remembering that this country was built by immigrants and that everyone here (except for Native Americans) is descended from immigrants. We must strengthen our support for refugees, end economic exploitation of immigrant workers, keep families together create a just system that honors the worth of every human. 



All of our national immigration issues are also intimately related to our foreign policy, including economic and trade policy — so a holistic approach to addressing immigration reform must include an assessment of these policies as well. We must support and uphold the sovereignty and self-determination of all people and end the practice of regime change in foreign nations, including in Latin American countries where brutal dictatorships have emerged as a result of US meddling. We must work in the international community to create a just world for all, in which other countries are not exploited for natural resources or cheap labor, and in which all countries are encouraged to grow and flourish. This means we must embrace fair trade policies and reverse unjust neoliberal “free trade” policies like NAFTA, which have devastated local economies and forced countless millions to migrate. Simply put, there will be fewer refugees and immigrants from poverty-stricken and war-torn nations when we aren’t exporting war and poverty. We must model for the world a true example of leadership, with liberty, justice, and respect for all.

What programs or legislation would you support to meet the water needs of Californians and the federal water project infrastructure in California?
Answer from Nils Palsson:

Water is life. More and more, we are recognizing this fact, and coming to understand our place in a delicate web of life that relies at every intersection on our relationship with this precious resource that makes up over 70% of the earth’s surface and over 60% of the human body. We are water, we need water — and particularly in California, we’re engaged in the process of learning to manage our relationship to water. 


I support investing strongly in water infrastructure and sustainable programs to protect and expand our water supply and ensure fair end equitable access to this precious resource. I support legislation investing in technological solutions to drought, including desalination (since oceans hold over 96% of all water), fog-catchers and atmospheric water generation (which requires research to become more cost-effective). It also must be made clear that California does not have a water shortage; we have a water *storage* shortage. We must be prepared for rain when it comes, and crate systems to harvest rainwater (including rooftop catchment, laundry-to-landscape grey-water systems, and other low-tech strategies that harness natural abundance and keep water accessible). We also need to invest in cutting-edge wastewater recycling, since the billion gallons of recycled wastewater California currently sends out to the Pacific Ocean each year could instead be treated and used for irrigation and groundwater replenishment. 



At core, our relationship with water highlights the larger ways in which we are out of integrity with nature itself. To truly address the water crisis will require us to reexamine what we eat, what we grow, and where we choose to focus our energy. Almonds account for roughly 10% of the water used in California, and it requires an estimated 1.1 gallons of water to grow a single almond. It doesn’t take an economy genius to see that this practice is unsustainable. In contrast, drinking water accounts for less that one-tenth of 1% of consumption. We need to engage in a thoughtful conversation about our priorities, and truly honor water for the vital resource that it is. We must protect our watersheds from being exploited for profit by big corporations like Nestle, which are sucking the land dry. We must protect water from contamination by toxic industrial and agricultural runoff by transparently assessing the chemicals emitted by these corporations, and we must address our the broader context of the global climate crisis to address the root cause of warming temperatures and drought. It is an epic task, and no one person has all the answers. But we cannot shirk this duty. Future generations will thank us for having the courage to do the right thing at this turning point in our history. Hopefully we will have the courage and foresight to make the necessary changes and elect representatives who stand with our people and planet, not big polluters and water-guzzling corporations posing this threat to future generations. We deserve so much better. 

According to a "Civility In America” survey, 75% of Americans believe that the U.S. has a major civility problem. If you are elected what will do to address this?
Answer from Nils Palsson:

We live in a culture that is, unfortunately, rooted in expressions of violence and various forms of exploitation, oppression and incivility. As most of us are aware, this country has long suffered from the legacy of genocide of indigenous people, black slavery, white supremacy, patriarchy, foreign wars of empire, and the mistreatment of minority communities, including immigrants, Muslims and religious communities, LGBTQ people, and those deemed by mainstream culture to be “other.” The great task before is to realize that there is no “other,” the we are all part of the same human family, the same community of life — and that if we want to thrive, we need to share this planet and treat each other with respect and dignity. As Dr. King observed repeatedly, “It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated.”


We citizens take our cues, in many ways, from the government that we elect and the laws that govern our nation. And if we desire our *people* to behave with a greater sense of love, respect and civility, we as a *country* need to embody these values in our domestic policy, our foreign policy, our economic policy, our laws and law-enforcement practices. America must step up and become a true nonviolent leader on the world stage, which means no longer pursuing an agenda of economic imperialism. We must treat all people, including foreign nations and immigrants, with respect. We must heal the wounds of indigenous genocide by honoring treaties with Native Americans and listening to the wise counsel of native elders in considering the challenges we face today, learning to protect the water, share the land, and live harmoniously. We must heal the wounds of slavery and end white supremacy by addressing the crisis of police brutality, abolishing private and for-profit prisons, and creating true social and economic justice for all. We must ensure gender equality by passing the Equal Rights Amendment that has yet to be enacted. We must uphold the rights of the LGBTQ community. We must respect all ethnicities, all languages, and all faiths. And we must end the cruel and unjust death penalty, which sets a tone of violence and punishment that resonates in all public spheres.



It is only by creating a system of civility and nonviolence that we can ever expect our culture to reflect those values of civility and nonviolence. We must be the change we wish to see in this world. 

Who gave money to this candidate?


More information about contributions

Source: MapLight analysis of data from the Federal Election Commission.

Videos (5)

— May 24, 2018 Nils Palsson for Congress 2018

My top legislative priority is getting money out of politics. On most issues - student debt and high-cost education, unaffordable healthcare, income inequality, climate chaos, racial injustice and mass incarceration, endless war, and many more - the reason our needs are not being met is that Big Money has taken over politics.

Corporate lobbyists are calling the shots in Washington. They've bought our Democratic and Republican lawmakers alike, and they've put the brakes on progress. And the time has come for us to stand up and say, "No More." My name is Nils Palsson, I am an independent candidate for US Congress in CA's 5th District, and getting money out of politics is my top issue. You can learn more about my campaign and platform at I am calling on thinking people, working people, and concerned citizens of all political backgrounds to get involved and support this campaign for us all. It's way bigger than party. If we want to survive in the coming era -- let alone thrive -- we need to make some big changes, starting with reclaiming our democracy, getting money out of politics, and electing people who stand with our families and communities.

— May 24, 2018 Nils Palsson for Congress 2018

I'm running for U.S. Congress in CA's 5th district because I believe we need principled action and visionary leadership at this crucial moment in our history. This is a campaign for social, racial, environmental and economic justice for ALL. Join me in the movement to take back Congress for our people and planet! A system of Medicare For All is necessary and something I’m committed to fighting for! People ask me why I'm doing this - why I'm giving my time and energy to the mission of running for office on a playing field that we all know is far from level. The answer is simple. It is my duty. As a father, I must do all in my power to give my daughter - all our children and grandchildren - a better world. Going through chemo with my dad and being by his side before he died hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical debt helped to ignite within me a passion for a health care system that treats people with dignity. Now, being a father to Satya inspires me to take massive action every day to fight for a safer, healthier world for all.

A few words on the path that led me to run for office. Recorded at the Middletown Art Center Open Mic on May 4, 2018.

Candidate Nils Palsson interviewed on #WeThePeople, a political program produced by Uphill Media. This video intorduces the candidate, explored his policy positions and legislative priorities, and gives a good sense of what this campaign is all about: Social, racial, environmental and economic justice for ALL!

Interview with Nils Palsson in the Environmental Coffee House program, May 2018. It explores the candidate's background and several key policy positions and priorities.

Nils Palsson, US Congress candidate in California’s District 5, is a father, author, teacher, community organizer, and candidate for US Congress, based in Northern California. Nils serves as Communications Director for Transition US, the nonprofit national hub of the global “transition towns” movement to build local resilience. He also teaches Anatomy, Kinesiology and other life sciences at the World School in San Francisco, and recently earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing & Consciousness at the California Institute of Integral Studies.

“This is my second time running for US House of Representatives to get money out of politics and build a system that works for us all. “ "Climate Leadership. Global warming requires more than words. We must lead the charge to protect our home planet and the future of our grandchildren. Getting free from fossil fuels requires visionary leadership and bold action. We also all need healthy food and clean watersheds to thrive. To accomplish any of this, we need to elect a New Congress."

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