On Tuesday, City Council Member and Sierra Club endorsed candidate Eric Garcetti surprised many political observers by pulling out a victory against an establishment favorite to be elected the next mayor of Los Angeles. Garcetti won a sizable 8 point victory against Wendy Greuel, his opponent who received so much outside support that this became the most expensive race in L.A. history.
This win is great news for Sierra Club members and supporters for two reasons. First, in the face of massive political spending, we have people all across the country who will spend their time working hard to get clean energy and climate action champions elected – and we know that speaking to our friends and neighbors about an election makes a huge difference. That’s why the Sierra Club went to work for Garcetti as soon as we endorsed him in March. Executive Director Michael Brune met with Garcetti and announced our support at a press conference, and the Sierra Club set up-phone banks and online get out the vote efforts to ensure every voter who cares about clean energy voted for the clean energy candidate. With only 19% voter turnout, this election showed how important it is to mobilize our members.
The second reason Garcetti’s victory should be celebrated is because it is important not just for the city of Los Angeles, but for the whole country. It means that one of our country’s biggest, most populated cities will continue to have a mayor who will build on the momentum for a transition off coal to clean energy. The benefits that will provide by protecting our air, our water, our climate, and the health of our families far exceed the L.A. city limits.
Outgoing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa did an exceptional job in creating the foundation for a clean energy future in Los Angeles, committing to get the city off coal for good. Sierra Club members fought hard for Garcetti because we know he is the person to build on that foundation and continue that clean energy legacy.
The reasons to be excited about Garcetti – a long-time Sierra Club member -- are numerous, as his record as a council member is unparalleled. He authored the nation’s most significant green building ordinance, one of the strongest local clean water initiatives, and a bill that would make L.A. the largest city in America investing in solar energy. He tripled the number of parks in his district, worked to ban plastic bags, and even drives an electric car.
That’s why the Sierra Club was fired up to get him in to office – and that’s why we are thrilled to work with Mayor-elect Garcetti in the years to come. Together, we have the opportunity to build on his strong record and guarantee Los Angeles is an integral part of a clean energy economy that will help create jobs while protecting our air, water, and climate.
--Melissa Williams, Sierra Club Political Director