The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
Tucson is a bastion of collective environmental awareness and a literal hot spot for addressing climate change. However, many underrepresented communities who are most exposed to climate impacts still struggle to have their voices heard. This coming election, we can help close this gap in leadership by electing Lucy LiBosha for City Council in Ward 3.
Lucy is a math teacher, military veteran, transportation advocate, Realtor and active member of the community. She has the enthusiasm, credentials and life experience to be an intersectional decision-maker. When elected, Lucy will be the first Black woman ever elected to the Tucson City Council, which only underscores the need for more diverse leadership.
Recently the Environmental Protection Agency released an analysis showing that the most severe harms from climate change fall disproportionately upon underserved communities who are least able to prepare for, and recover from, heat waves, poor air quality, flooding and other climate impacts.
The EPA’s analysis shows “racial and ethnic minority communities are particularly vulnerable to the greatest impacts of climate change.” It states that “Hispanic and Latino individuals are 43% more likely to currently live in areas with the highest projected reductions in labor hours due to extreme temperatures” and “Black and African Americans are projected to face higher impacts of climate change compared to all other demographic groups.”
One thing is for sure: a lot of people are disenfranchised. Specifically communities of color who care for their environment, their sources of food and water, but who do not see their unique perspectives represented in the environmental movement. Representation matters. We need people representing us in positions of power who understand and advocate for our perspective.
A few examples already exist. The first Latina Mayor of Tucson has intentionally addressed climate change with the climate emergency declaration and action plan. Women of color in city, county, and Tucson Unified School District leadership — and in volunteer positions like the city’s Commission on Climate, Energy and Sustainability — are giving visibility to underrepresented communities.
They’re connecting social and environmental issues, ensuring disenfranchised populations have equitable access to the ballot, addressing public transportation needs, and more.
At the national level, the Department of Interior is led by an Indigenous woman (Secretary Deb Haaland, Laguna Pueblo). Even the largest and oldest green organization in the country, the Sierra Club, is now led by people of color in its national staff and board of directors, and is addressing social justice as a fundamental value of the organization to protect the planet.
Tucson has the expertise and institutions needed to tackle climate change. A far greater need is more diverse leadership that better understands the inequities of underserved, marginalized communities.
It’s critical that we empower and trust people who represent those communities. This is why I support Lucy LiBosha for Tucson City Council.
Sergio Avila is an immigrant from Mexico, a conservation scientist, and trail runner living in Tohono O’odham and Pascua Yaqui lands since 2004. He is the past chair of the Sugar Hill Neighborhood Association and member of the city of Tucson Commission on Climate, Energy and Sustainability.