A year after the country passed its largest climate bill ever, and we’ve got a lot to celebrate and much to do.
As cities and states draft plans to make the most of the benefits the Inflation Reduction Act provides in transitioning to a clean energy future, we are still reminded of all that’s left to be done to achieve real climate and environmental justice.
The East Palestine train derailment affected thousands of Ohio resident’s health and livelihoods and reminded us of the urgent need for state and local regulations on the nation’s dirtiest polluters. The latest UN climate report acknowledges progress – but leads with a warning that we must keep acting at every level of government to avoid the worst scenarios for future generations.
So fight we will! Don’t let the odd year fool you – elections across the country for critical city, county, and state seats are in full swing. Climate organizers are running or organizing to win seats that could ensure major investments in clean energy, pass safeguards against environmental injustice, and fight back against the influence of the fracking industry.
We need bold state and city climate progressives in office all across the country – and we’ve pulled together a slate of some of the most important races for climate wins down ballot this spring. Please donate today!
Here’s who we’re backing this spring:
Allegheny County: Climate organizers have fought for years to successfully pass a ban on fracking in one of PA’s most populous counties by organizing and electing climate champs to the County Commission across several cycles. As the incumbent County Executive steps down, progressives now have a chance to win governing power by electing State House progressive champ Sara Innamorato. Her election not only would protect the fracking ban but also allow a progressive majority on the County Commission to crack down on polluters, invest in green energy jobs, and install stormwater runoff infrastructure. And in order to protect that majority, incumbent Bethany Hallam is running to continue serving as a voice for the climate movement. Darwin Leuba – her former campaign manager, the Auditor of O’Hara Township, and a longterm local progressive organizer – is running for County Comptroller to audit the Clean Air fund and ensure local polluters are actually being fined.
Philadelphia: Councilmember Helen Gym is running as the progressive candidate in a wide field to be the city’s next Mayor. She’s been a champion for environmental justice in office having introduced landmark legislation requiring industries to consult with frontline communities. As the country’s largest municipal utility Philadelphia Gas Works has advocated to expand natural gas use to power the city, Gym has been a consistent critic demanding urgency in the fight to transition the utility to renewable energy. In office, she’d be one of the country’s top climate mayors and a strong advocate for building electrification, tackling urban pollution, energy transition, and more.
Maine’s private utilities, CMP and Versant, not only cost residents 49% more than their public counterparts, but have blocked work to transition the state’s energy off fossil fuels and made the state the most frequent for power outages. Climate activists have put on the ballot a measure to make the Pine Tree Power Company, a local consumer-owned utility that would buy out both private utilities and deliver lower cost, cleaner, and more reliable power. The concept is not only popular with voters, it’s already passed the state legislature through a bipartisan bill that was vetoed by the Governor. As the campaign builds people power on the ground, they’ll need support to win against well-financed utility opposition.
Eugene, Oregon: As the country learns more and more about the harm gas stoves cause to public health, it’s critical that cities continue to electrify new construction – reducing building emissions that contribute to climate change as well as health disparities. After Eugene passed the state’s first ordinance banning the use of natural gas in new residential construction, its regional utility NW Gas spent millions to put the issue to a ballot to overturn the new building rule. They plan to douse the race in millions of dollars of ads attacking the bill with false claims downplaying public health and climate science. We’re also endorsing Lyndsie Leech, a climate champ city councilor who championed the bill to passage. Organizers on the ground with Fossil Free Eugene need support to both keep Leech in office AND ensure the city votes NO on the new ballot overturning the natural gas ban.
El Paso: Youth organizers with Sunrise El Paso as well as Ground Game TX have gathered enough signatures this year to get a historic initiative on the ballot this year – the El Paso Climate Charter. The measure would reduce the city’s emissions by building solar on city buildings, investing in clean energy jobs, tackling pollution and much more. We’re so excited to support this true grassroots effort in a state that’s historically blocked its cities from taking climate action.
San Antonio: In 2021, we helped elect 2 progressive climate champions – Jalen McKee-Rodriguez and Teri Castillo – who’ve helped to retire the city’s coal plant and pass historic investments in affordable housing. As the city makes decisions on its future energy use, we’re working to keep them in office as they face off against industry-backed opposition so they can continue to fight to move off fossil fuels and represent the progressive movement in their city.
Arlington: As a city Councilmember, Marvin Sutton fought the fracking industry by passing 300 foot setbacks for drilling sites from schools, blocking several new projects in the process. After running for Mayor, he’s fighting to win back his seat so he can continue to advocate for the health of the most vulnerable in a city at the heart of fracking in Texas.
Ohio has been in the news this year for the horrific train derailment in East Palestine that caused a massive release of chemicals into the environment and the evacuation of thousands of residents. The incident is a reminder of the environmental injustices Ohio communities have long endured as a hub for polluting industries like fracking and chemical production. Climate champs are running in municipal races this year who are pushing to move the state off fossil fuels faster and enact measures that would stop events like East Palestine from happening again. After years of scandals from the state’s utility, First Energy, the state needs new leadership who’ll clean up the grid and the influence of industry money on its politics:
Akron: City councilmember Shammas Malik is running to be Akron’s Mayor as a champion for climate action and a strong critic of the state utility First Energy. When elected, he’ll fight to electrify the city’s vehicle fleet, reverse its loss of tree canopy, create green building standards for new development, and update the city’s emissions plan for the first time in a decade. Fran Wilson’s history in the city goes four generations back when his family worked in its famed rubber industry. Fran has fought for racial justice and police accountability for years as a neighborhood organizer and former Civil Rights Commissioner. He’ll fight to establish the city’s climate commission, divest from fossil fuels, and expand solar panel use.
Columbus: Melissa Green is running to be the first social worker on the Columbus City Council and an advocate for clean energy as the city heads to renegotiations on its energy plan.
Cincinnati: Jamie Castle has been a teacher for years and is running to join the climate majority on the City Council which has been able to enact a city climate commission and enact new clean energy provisions.
- India Walton – the nurse and famed political organizer who nearly beat the city’s political establishment for mayor in 2021 – is running for Buffalo’s Common Council Masten District, a ward she won in that race. Her campaign is running again on an inspiring platform for renewable energy, police accountability, and expanded urban infrastructure for working families.
- Eve Shippens is a environmental science teacher who organized not only for the teacher’s union in her region, but also for India Walton’s former mayoral campaign! She’s running alongside Walton to represent Buffalo’s North District to push for green infrastructure in the city, mental health and drug addiction services, and affordable housing.
Onondaga County: A veteran and advisor for students at Onondaga Community College, Maurice Brown first got involved in politics through the Bernie Sander’s 2016 presidential campaign and has since organized for Working Families Party to elect several progressive assembly members and pass statewide the Fair Elections Act which started public financing for NY candidates. He’s running as a progressive climate champ to massively expand public transit in Syracuse and ensure it runs off clean energy, expedite the county’s energy transition to 2030, and ban natural gas hookups in new construction.
State Legislative Primaries: In his first term as Virginia’s governor, Republican Glenn Youngkin has made clear his opposition to climate action, reproductive rights, and voting access. This year’s state legislative elections set the stage for the possibilities for action on climate and many other issues in cycles to come – and the state’s primary holds opportunities to elect progressive champions this spring. These leaders could lead the charge to expedite the state’s renewable energy transition, regulate the state’s corrupt utility Dominion, and keep Virginia in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative as the Governor fights to take it out. Here is who we’re backing for this June’s primary:
- Adele McClure for House District 2: As the Executive Director of the Dem Black Caucus, McClure would be the first Asian or Black delegate for Arlington and a champion for climate action and utility regulation.
- Paul Berry for House District 7: Running in an open district, Berry helped pass an expansion of the region’s Capital Trail Network – a job-creating conservation project that reduced car emissions by expanding access to bike and hiking trails for many residents.
- Kathy Tran for House District 18: – A daughter of Vietnamese refugees, Tran has spent her career fighting for those who need representation most. She has been a tireless progressive advocate for bills to expand health insurance and voter access, improving worker’s rights, and regulating Dominion.
- Rozia Henson for House District 19: Henson is an organizer and public servant for his community in Woodbridge with a strong climate platform who’d be the legislature’s first out gay black man elected to serve!
- Joshua Cole for House District 65: – A former state rep, Cole was a champion in office for the VA Green New Deal, the fight against the MVP Pipeline, and the struggle to regulate the state’s corrupt utility. We’re working to help him get back to the state assembly where he’ll fight for climate justice & progressive change!
- Mike Jones for House District 77: Richmond’s progressive city councilor is running for Assembly to ensure VA’s cities get the resources for public education & urban infrastructure they are owed – and to ensure the state is a climate leader!
- Rae Cousins for House District 79: – A local lawyer & organizer for voter registration, Rae Cousins will fight for the decarbonization of VA’s energy system and push for the state to tackle environmental racism in food affordability, lead exposure, and more.
- Terrence Walker for House District 81: Walker has served his community throughout his career as a mental health service provider, school board member, and local organizer. After years lobbying the Assembly for paid family leave and the clean up of landfill sites in his community, he is running to represent it himself.
- Lashrecse Aird for Senate District 13: Aird has made history as an Assemblymember by leading the fight to pass Breonna’s Law which prohibits the use of no-knock search warrants and a ban on the use of facial recognition technology. She’s running for Senate to continue her work to fight for climate action and racial justice.
- Jennifer Carrol Foy for Senate District 33: A former public defender and state house delegate, Foy has been a consistent fighter for climate action in Virginia as an elected representative and in her run for the Governor’s office. She co-introduced the Virginia Clean Economy Act which sought to transition the state fully to renewable energy and has consistently criticized Dominion. She’s running this coming spring to win back a seat in the Assembly!
- Nadarius Clark for House District 84: Clark began his activism after a KKK march in 2016 disrupted his college’s classes at an HBCU campus. He’s been organizing on his campus and in his community for racial justice – and went to be elected as the youngest Democrat in the Assembly’s history last cycle as part of our slate! He has been a critical voice for climate action, debt relief for working families, and addressing the black maternal mortality crisis – and needs to be defended to stay in office this election!
- Kim Yvette Sudderth for House District 92: A Planning Commissioner and longtime organizer in Norfolk, Sudderth has fought developers for more affordable development and campaigned against examples of environmental racism like the ongoing health impacts of coal dust and a dangerous natural gas pipeline. She has also advocated that the growing clean energy movement serve working families equally – by helping get approval for community-owned solar in her community and advocating for school bus electrification. She is running to continue her work as an environmental justice fighter in the state legislature!
- Saddam Azlan Salim for Senate District 37: A first generation immigrant from Bangladesh, Salim has seen the benefits of strong affordable housing, healthcare, and public education and has organized tirelessly with the local Democratic Party. He’s running against the most conservative Dem State Senator for more progressive representation on clean energy, gun control, and workers rights!
Fairfax County: As a leader in the national climate movement, Andres Jimenez has organized at several organizations and most recently ran Green 2.0 which fights to increase pay equity for people of color—particularly women of color—in environmental organizations. He’s running in the Mason District of Fairfax County, a county with a higher population than many states, to build stormwater management, protect green spaces and tree canopy, and reduce the county’s carbon footprint.
As one of the fastest growing cities in the country, Denver’s work to move its grid and buildings off fossil fuels will have major ramifications for its ability to be a climate leader down the road. As Colorado deals with increasing wildfires, the city has a role in reducing its contribution to climate disasters and improving air quality for residents. In the next term, a progressive City Council could introduce bills around building electrification, expanding public transit, air pollution, and much more. That’s why we’re so excited to endorse for the runoffs:
- Candi CdeBaca for District 9: Living in a neighborhood where a Superfund site makes the zip code one of the most polluted in the country, CdeBaca got her start in organizing rallying her community against a highway expansion that would force her out of her home through eminent domain and increased air pollution. Since winning a seat on the Council and becoming the first queer Latina on Council, she has supported efforts to combat the environmental racism that got her involved in politics and supported community efforts for a carbon tax, a ban on fracking, and more.
- Shontel Lewis for District 8: Since being elected to serve on the Board of the Regional Transportation District in 2018, Lewis has fought hard advocating for Denver’s public transit’s expansion and inclusion of communities that need access to it the most. She not only would be a climate champ on Council, but one of the most experienced in how to equitably upgrade the city’s transit infrastructure to service the most residents.
- Shannon Hoffman for District 10: Hoffman has been active in Denver as an educator managing city afterschool and scholarship programs and as an organizer for racial justice, services for Denver’s unhoused population, and much more. She’s running to tackle Denver’s air pollution and fight for affordable housing, police accountability, and more.
Alaska: The country’s largest state has a high percent of rural residents – and electric cooperatives play a critical role in providing power that ensures they have reliable service. These cooperatives’ boards hold elections this year where ratepayers will have the choice to elect champions for clean energy to represent them. All these candidates are running to push for their coop’s expansion into clean energy and to wean the state off natural gas from Cook Inlet.
- Matanuska Electric Association Board: With the backing of the Alaska Rural Electric Coalition, local Alaska Native activist Ana Buretta and energy advisor Connie Fredenberg are both running as a clean energy slate.
- Chugach Electric Association: Shaina Kilcoyne helped to organize for and write Anchorage’s first climate plan and Susanne Fleek-Green has organized and advised state and city candidates in the region on climate policy for years.
- Homer Electric Association: Rob Ernst is a lifelong commercial fisherman from Nikiski who used to sit on the board of Cook Inletkeeper working to protect clean water and healthy salmon in the watershed.
Jacksonville, Florida: One of the dirtiest utilities in the country, Jacksonville still gets much of its energy from coal. Donna Deegan is running for Mayor to repair the city’s underinvested infrastructure and move its utility off coal and towards clean energy.