Climate Action is Local
By Ashantae Green, Run for Something alum and current Water and Soil Conservation District Supervisor of Duval County, Florida
Green is so much more than my name, being green is in my blood.
As a kid I loved climbing trees and being outside every chance I could. Even as an adult, I’ve spent a large portion of my time outside as an organic farmer and in sustainable urban design.
I’ll admit, when Run for Something approached me and encouraged me to run, I was a little nervous. Natural ecosystems made sense to me, political systems though? Not as much.
It was my first time running for elected office, and I didn’t quite know what to expect. What I did know was that my hometown in East Jacksonville has one of the worst histories of industrial contamination of pollutants in the country.
Rates of childhood asthma and diabetes are far higher in 32206, both of which are linked to industrial pollutants. Busy highways cut through neighborhoods spewing emissions, unregulated superfund sites dot the landscape, and lack of trees and vegetation make it nearly 10 degrees warmer in my neighborhood.
So, while I was nervous to run, there was something else that overpowered the fear — a fierce determination to make my home a healthier, more sustainable community for all.
Run for Something helped me channel my passion for the outdoors and desire to better my community into a winning campaign. They gave me the support and guidance to tackle the issues I care about head on.
And I’m not alone. There couldn’t be a more urgent time to run for local office. Despite dire warnings from the IPCC about the urgent threat of climate change, our fractured political system has prevented any meaningful action in Congress.
But just because Congress won’t act doesn’t mean it’s time to throw up our flags in surrender. We can actually do something about it at the state and local level.
As a water and soil conservation district supervisor, I facilitate decisions about how to make sustainable use of natural resources, implement climate-resilient urban landscapes, fund programs that promote curiosity and stewardship of our natural world, just to name a few.
Not only do these programs invest in our local communities, they give folks the opportunity to see that things can change, that government can work, and that they too have a voice in the process.
There are a TON of local races like mine across the country. Whether they’re water quality boards, public service commissions, or city council races — they all can have a seriously profound impact on everything from local air quality to climate resilience. And too many of these races go unchallenged, left to the same old folks committed to the status quo.
We’re going to change that. Now is the time for progressives leaders to rise up and run for positions like utility board, public service commissioner, and yes, Water and Soil Conservation District Supervisor. You have the power to address the climate crisis one local race at a time.