Council resolutions rally support for carbon pricing

Council resolutions rally support for carbon pricing

By Davia Rivka

Before Suzanne Tveit (State Coordinator, AZ) went into high gear with her Phoenix city council, she wanted to make sure a resolution endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend would have an impact with her members of Congress. So she asked her senator. Guess what he said? “Definitely.” That was enough for her to get the ball rolling. And she’s not the only one.

To date, seventeen city councils have passed resolutions endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend — CCL’s national policy to address climate change. It makes sense, right? Think about it — city council after city council after city council passing resolutions that endorse CF&D. If I were a member of Congress, I’d sit up and take notice. Wouldn’t you?

They say somebody needs to hear something over and over and over again before it even begins to register. They say the messenger holds greater sway than the message. They say ‘all politics are local.’ (Tip O’Neill.)

I say, take a page from the play book.

Bill Barron

Because of the relationships he’d developed in Salt Lake City’s government, Bill Barron had an easy time getting a city council resolution for Carbon Fee and Dividend.

When the Salt Lake City Council passed the resolution endorsing Carbon Fee and Dividend, Bill Barron (CCL’s Wild West Regional Coordinator) told me, “but I didn’t even do anything. I had a good relationship with one of the city council members and she ran with it. When it was all signed she called me to tell me.”

I stopped him — “You say you didn’t do anything, but that council member endorsed you when you ran for office, you have long term relationships with most people on the city council, you’ve spent years being a reliable, credible resource — now it’s payoff time. You may not have had to make many phone calls, take many meetings — because you had already laid the groundwork.”

In Flagstaff, Claire Herrick and her co-leader, Shawn Newell, have been planting seeds for eighteen months. Last September, Claire introduced the idea of a resolution to one of the council members.

“How did you know her?” I asked.

“She’s in my yoga class.” Claire said.

That made me laugh — relationship, relationship, relationship.

Claire and Shawn knew they could count on three of the seven council members to vote in favor of the resolution. It was the remaining four that concerned them. So they set to work.

“It was really Shawn. She met with three of the members — the fourth had a health issue and we never got a chance to talk to her. Shawn epitomized the CCL way. One of the members was almost hostile. After Shawn met with him, he became much more friendly. This is exactly what CCL is about. I’d call that a win. After months and months of meetings and power points and face-to-face conversation and scheduling and rescheduling, they finally voted last week — three to four — it didn’t pass.

“Despite our fear and trepidation we kept moving forward. It really builds confidence and faith. It was an important process for us to go through. We’re not done!” Claire tells me.

There is an election in November, and they expect the composition of the council to change. They’ve been invited back after the election to reintroduce the resolution. They feel strong and ready.

Peter Jakra-Sellers is in the Philly chapter. He’s taking a gap year between high school and college to do some political work. When he walked into the council offices in city hall asking council members to sign the endorsement letter, he had a very different experience from that of Claire and Shawn. A number of offices suggested he would have an easier time getting a resolution passed than getting members to sign endorsement letters. When he approached councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown’s office, she took the resolution and ran with it. It passed unanimously.

Now it’s your turn. You might have an experience like the one Peter had, or one more like that of Claire and Shawn. No matter the outcome, it will be a success — you are always building the foundation for what comes next. As Bill will confirm.

Seventeen cities have resolutions. What if one hundred had resolutions? Or one thousand??? The ball is in your court. Run with it. For volunteers who are on CCL Community, you can watch a webinar how-to on council resolutions.

And remember what T.S. Eliot said, “If you’re not in over your head, how will you know how tall you are?”

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Davia Rivka is a Los Angeles-based climate change warrior who is hard at work on her second book: a collection of inspirational stories about the extraordinary work of Citizens’ Climate Lobby volunteers. Check out her blog at daviarivka.com.

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