The 2022 midterms are upon us, and if this year has proven anything thus far, it’s that we need to elect climate champions to office – immediately.
Between the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the harrowing new IPCC report, and the increase in severity and frequency of natural disasters, we’re witnessing all of the ways our reliance on fossil fuels keeps us enmeshed in war, environmental crisis, and social inequity. And as coal barons in Congress stall critical federal action on climate, we know the world doesn’t have this kind of time to wait for solutions.
The good news is local leaders are standing up for climate solutions all across the country, and with the backing of a growing climate and progressive movement, they can win. Here are just a few things we’re excited about:
- In New York, a slate of progressive state legislators are running to pass one of the boldest climate bills in the country – the Build Public Renewables Act – and are primarying the incumbents holding back bold climate action in committee.
- Across California, leaders in cities like Richmond, Glendale, and Imperial Beach are running to block new gas plants and working to transition old dirty infrastructure to clean energy.
- Climate activists are running statewide for public utility and land commissions in Arizona and New Mexico, where they’ll be able to transition entire states to renewables and block new fracking.
Through research and consultation with progressive climate partners across the country, Lead Locally and Data for Progress have put together a diverse slate of city and state level candidates who will pave the way toward a thriving clean energy economy. These candidates are running in spring municipal elections, competitive primaries, and open seats, often against establishment-backed incumbents or fossil-fuel backed Republicans. But they need our backing if they’re going to win.
Whereas US Senate candidates spend millions on their races, the budget for a local electoral campaign is often just a couple thousand dollars. We can work collectively to equip these local candidates with the resources they need to run strong, competitive, grassroots campaigns. These elections are rapidly approaching in May and June, so there’s no time to waste. Please donate today:
Arizona: Sandra Kennedy and Lauren Kuby are running for the AZ Corporation Commission, the body that regulates Arizona’s utilities and has been corrupted and captured by Arizona’s largest and dirtiest utility. Sandra Kennedy is running for reelection, and Lauren Kulby is hoping to step onto the commission to fight for consumers and prioritize clean energy for Arizona. APS, the state’s biggest utility, has a history of spending millions to defeat clean energy policy, so it’s imperative we back these reformers to take power.
New York State Legislature: In New York, a slate of DSA and Working Families Party challengers are running against senior leaders of the State Assembly Energy Committee who have been undermining major climate and energy legislation. If the challengers win, it will position one of the largest states in the country to enact some of the boldest climate legislation in the country. Every candidate has pledged their support for the Build Public Renewables Act, a coalition-backed bill that would mandate the state utility to phase out fossil fuel energy, build out only renewable energy, and democratize the utility to make elected officials accountable to ratepayers instead of investors. Not only would this bill put the state on track to hit its ambitious emissions reduction targets, but it would also provide thousands of jobs and help end environmental racism in areas like “Asthma Alley” in the Bronx and Queens.
- David Alexis for SD-21 – Alexis is a former Uber driver and DSA climate organizer who co-founded the Drivers Cooperative to put economic power back in the hands of NYC rideshare drivers through cooperative ownership. He’s running against Kevin Parker, the chair of the Energy and Telecommunications Committee and the largest recipient of fossil fuel money in the NY state legislature. If Alexis is elected, he’ll be able to bring forward progressive climate bills that have previously been blocked.
- Sarahana Shrestha for AD-103 – As a community organizer and graphic designer in the Hudson Valley, Shrestha has helped grow the campaign for NY public power, block the Danskammer fracked gas plant, and elect progressive officials in her county. She’s primarying incumbent Kevin Cahill who has failed to support several of the state’s most pressing climate bills.
- Illapa Sairitupac for AD- 65 – Sairitupac is a social worker and DSA organizer who has helped lead the organizing for statewide Green New Deal bills and is running for an open seat.
- Samy Nemir-Olivares for AD- 54 – Nemir-Olivares broke into NYC politics in 2020 by winning election as a progressive upstart to become Buswick’s district leader and helping set up one of the city’s largest mutual aid networks. He’s now running to be the state’s first LGBTQ Assembly member of color on a platform that centers on climate justice, a tuition free university system, and affordable housing.
- Kristen Gonzalez for SD-17 – A tech worker and community organizer, Gonzalez has helped fight for broadband for all and is running to support statewide single-payer healthcare and a Green New Deal.
Pennsylvania State Legislature: Pennsylvania is at the heart of the campaign to end fracking, and there are strong environmental justice leaders running in recently redrawn districts that could position Democrats to win a majority in the state house. Along with groups leading the state’s climate fight, we’re backing the following candidates:
- Paul Prescod for SD-8 – Prescod, a teacher and labor organizer, is challenging a well-financed incumbent known for blocking progress. Backed by some of Philly’s largest unions and its DSA, Prescod is an exception to the rest of our state house slate, because we can’t miss the opportunity to help elect this strong, Green New Deal fighter in PA!
- Tara Zrinski for SD-14 – Zrinski has been a leader in state anti-fracking fights and is currently a county councilor in Northampton County. If Zrinski makes it into the Senate she would be a powerful voice to move Pennsylvania beyond fossil fuels.
- Izzy Smith-Wade-El for HD-96 – As the current City Council president in Lancaster, Smith-Wade-El has consistently championed progressive values in the city and got to office with the support of Lancaster Stands Up. Smith-Wade-El is committed to investing in good-paying union jobs to transform our energy system.
- Dana Hamp Gulick for HD-97 – Also in Lancaster with the backing of Lancaster Stands Up, Hamp Gulick is running against a moderate incumbent to fight for a PA Green New Deal and to raise the state minimum wage.
- Carol Kazeem for HD-159 – Kazeem has made environmental justice the core of her campaign; she’s fighting to end the expansion of polluting industries in her hometown of Chester, PA which have harmed the health and wellbeing of primarily black communities for decades.
- Richmond: Eduardo Martinez is running to be the mayor of a city that houses a major Chevron refinery. Eduardo is running as part of the Richmond Progressive Alliance, and if he wins, the alliance will be able to use both the mayor’s office and the Richmond City Council to start holding Chevron accountable and pursuing just transition solutions.
- Glendale: The last proposed fossil fuel power plant in California is sited inGlendale, but the city has been considering alternatives thanks to the leadership of Dan Brotman, a founder of the Glendale Environmental Coalition. In 2022, Brotman is up for re-election, and Elen Asatryan, a LA County committee member, is running to join him on city council.Together they could consolidate a progressive majority to stop the Grayson power plant and implement clean energy alternatives as a replacement.
- Imperial Beach: Paloma Aguirre is running for mayor of Imperial Beach to continue her work fighting for environmental justice and protecting the beaches of southern California. Imperial Beach is part of the Port of San Diego, which has lots of industrial and trucking pollution, and Paloma will support the effort to protect frontline communities. She also was recently appointed as an alternative to the California Coastal Commission where she hopes to continue to advocate to protect the coast for the public.
Portland, Oregon: Jo-Ann Hardesty, an incumbent environmental justice champion, is up for re-election, but she’s being challenged by conservative candidates backed by the city’s police union and business chamber. Jo-Ann was formerly the chair of the Portland NAACP and has been instrumental in creating the Portland Clean Energy Fund, an innovative effort to fund clean energy and create jobs in environmental justice communities.
Iowa: A longtime researcher of US corporate agriculture, Austin Frerick has advocated as a professor, journalist, and campaign advisor for agricultural policies that bring power back to rural communities, local farmers, and the environment. He’s running with the backing of Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement for SD-37 to stand up to Big Ag and their highly-polluting factory farms, and to support sustainable agriculture that is good for people and the planet.
New Mexico: In 2018, Stephanie Garcia Richards was the first Latina ever elected to New Mexico’s State Land Commission, a powerful body that oversees public lands, oil royalties, and the state’s education budget. Since getting elected, she’s been working to diversify the state’s revenue and decrease its reliance on oil, which she’s accomplished through measures like a moratorium on drilling in Chaco Canyon. In 2018, Chevron spent a whopping $2 million to try to defeat her, so we need to back her up so she can continue to invest in schools and clean energy.
Texas: Newly-redistricted SD-27 represents Corpus Christi and Brownsville, two cities emerging as a centerpoint in the fight to keep fossil fuels in the ground. Both cities rest along the Gulf Coast, the site of massive expansions of oil, gas and petrochemical development. In Brownsville, Sara Stapleton Barrera has not only advocated against new LNG export terminals but has also fought for state investments in wind and solar. As local residents suffer from increasing air and ocean pollution from LNG exports and associated oil spills, it’s imperative we help elect Barrera to the Texas State Senate.