July 26, 2011

Al Gore told us to run for office

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A defining moment in my life was watching the credits for An Inconvenient Truth.  I was the event moderator for a showing at our community center.  The room was full. As Al Gore’s message sunk in, Melissa Etheridge’s song “I Need to Wake Up” played and words danced on the screen:

Vote for leaders who pledge to solve the climate crisis.

Write to congress…

if they don't listen, run for congress.

Those words hit me deep. When the credits ended, I could barely hold back tears as I turned to the audience.  I was the youngest person in the room, the person with the most at stake, and had just been elected to town council with a desire to make a difference in my community. Within me welled up an inexpressible emotion; a deep knowing that making a difference just got a whole lot bigger. I had just glimpsed my generation’s purpose on this planet.

A few weeks ago, on a trip to the White House, I had the opportunity to question President Obama’s deputy assistant on energy and climate, Heather Zichal. In front of 200 fellow young elected officials from across the nation, I rose to speak. I shared that an unprecedented citizen movement is happening in my rural Town of Caroline, New York. In our rural independent town, nearly one-half of all voters have petitioned our town to ban hydrofracking.

I challenged her: “The Administration says gas is a clean transition fuel, yet the latest research shows hydrofracking is dirtier than coal.”  Her response was less than reassuring, but she got the message: rural America doesn’t want you to frack with our future.

I walked away from the White House realizing that our generation is only beginning to wake up to our potential power. 

The event was organized by the Young Elected Officials Network, which supports progressive young people at every level of elected office under age 35, which since I was elected has grown from 100 to 600 members.  

As young leaders on climate change, we know the importance of investing in our movement’s leadership capacity and political power. 

People ask me, “When are you running for higher office?”  I used to respond that I’d rather have 100 other young people run for office in my place.  As the crises unfold, in this moment of urgency, we need 10,000 young people to run for office.

Imagine the power our movement will create as youth climate leaders are elected to public offices across the nation, championing clean energy, environmental justice, energy efficiency, green jobs, walkable communities, local food, and clean transportation. 

Let’s build that future today.

Looking for your next step?  Want to empower our movement?

RUN FOR OFFICE

On Wednesday July 27, join 350.org, Energy Action Coalition, Young People For, the Front Line Leaders Academy, and the Young Elected Officials Network for a national conference call for young climate organizers interested in learning about running for office and working with elected officials on climate issues.

Why should climate activists run for office?  Elected office provides an opportunity for climate activists to champion policy, shape public opinion, leverage media attention, convene collations, and empower citizens.

Working from the Inside: Climate Organizers to Elected Officials 
National Conference Call
July 27 at 4:30pm EDT / 1:30pm PDT
RSVP for call details

Engage with young elected leaders on how they chose to run for office, what impact they’ve made, and the opportunities, challenges, and lessons for youth climate organizers to further engage in the political process.

Featured participants:

  • Maine State Representative Alex Cornell du Houx (Brunswick, ME)
  • Georgia State Representative Alisha Thomas Morgan (Austell, GA)
  • East Bay Municipal Utility District Director Andy Katz (Berkeley, CA)
  • Caroline Town Councilmember Dominic Frongillo (Caroline, NY)

Learn about what support is available for young people running for office, including the Front Line Leaders Academy, a premier campaign leadership development program.

Be part of the conversation: RSVP for call details
Can’t make it Wednesday? Please RSVP and we’ll follow up.

Share a question on our facebook event page.

Dominic Frongillo is the youngest elected Councilmember in the Town of Caroline, New York, elected at age 22.  He also serves as his county's youngest Deputy Town Supervisor and a national trainer on energy and climate for the Young Elected Officials Network.

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