Greening the Government Webinar (11/09/2017)

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On November 9, 2017, NWF EcoLeaders presented "Greening the Government: Getting Elected or Hired to Help Your Community and Planet," the third webinar of the 2017-18 leadership and career skills webinar series.
Participants learned about:
  • The variety of career options with major employers in the Governance and Policy sector and they will have gained knowledge about the various career pathways that could lead to employment within the sector.
  • How they can change their passion into a profession
  • The benefits of registering and participating in the NWF EcoLeaders community.

One question was answered after the webinar, due to time constraints during the webinar. Here is the response provided by Jessian and Eddie:

Q: We tend to think of running for mayor or president, what other local offices could we consider that might not be commonly thought of as opportunities to influence for sustainability?

 I've thought about this a lot. Given what I know of colleagues that got hired or elected to local government jobs, I'd suggest that anyone who wants to run for office to know that elected officials like SF city council members write and vote on legislation, but hired staff (like me and my team) often write laws and regulations (which spell out how laws will be enforced) and enforce them. If someone still wants to run for office, I suggest that they try this in this order:
  1. Intern or apply to work in a local elected office to see if they even like it. Legislative aides often do all the work their boss (the elected official) does. Sometimes our Mayor appoints legislative aides to be city council members. And I've seen city councils create legislation that they couldn't politically create as Mayor.    
  2. Before running, try to implement campaign finance reform on the local level. If you run before there's reform, you open yourself to getting bought by people and corporations with deep pockets who don't write laws to benefit the average person (e.g., affordable housing which is a sustainability issue).  
Professors found that the rich, businesses, and lobbyists carry more influence on what becomes law than the average person.  There are 12,000 registered lobbyists in 2015 in Washington DC compared to 250 in 1960. To win a Senate seat, candidates had to raise $14,351 everyday in 2014. Only 0.05% of Americans donate more than $10,000 in any election. So politicians try to get money from big donors.
In the USA, political campaigns are run year-round, which means politicians have to fundraise more. Political campaigns spend a huge part of the money they raised to pay for TV ads. It’s not like that in other countries. In the UK, politicians are banned from TV and radio ads and the Canadian election campaign season is only three months.
History shows that when people passed laws in cities and five states, that law passed in Congress or the Supreme Court. Every time. So I follow MayDay.Us, which endorses campaign finance reform candidates and laws. For example, legal bribery can be outlawed without a constitutional amendment if people:
  1. Require all candidates to have mandatory public financing.  It allowed young, marginalized people to win elections in NYC. It’s currently voluntary in 20 states. In NYC, the government matched a $50 donor with $300.  So that donor’s contribution became $350.  So politicians spent less time fundraising. 
  2. Ban industry political action committees (PACs) from paying for politicians’ vacations.
  3. Ban donors from funding judges who can hear cases involving their major donors.  
  4. Ban lobbyists from donating to politicians and judges that they lobby (and coordinating fundraisers for them).
  5. Ban legislators and their staff from taking lucrative lobbying jobs as soon as they leave government.
Eddie: Off the top of my head and based on positions that Frontlines to Power mentors have run for or are currently in:
  • Associated Neighborhood Commission/Council positions
  • Soil and Water Board
  • School Board
  • City Clerk
  • Rural Electric Co-op Board
  • Water and Power Board
Many municipalities have their own local elected positions and some of the boards mentioned above are sometimes appointed positions vs elected positions. Depending on what type of policy change you want to accomplish I think sustainability can be addressed in any one of these local positions.
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Governance and Policy

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Date Added: Nov 14, 2017
Date Last Modified: Nov 14, 2017