ClimateDemocracyNews & Opinion
by Mia DiFelice
Update (May 17, 2023): In yesterday’s six-way primary, Sara Innamorato won the Democratic nomination for Allegheny County Executive. She will face her Republican opponent in November but is likely to become the next County Executive, thanks to the region’s strong Democratic base.
Sara’s victory shows that bold progressive candidates who serve the people, not profit, will win — even in places like Allegheny County where, historically, corporate polluters have dominated the political landscape.
Moreover, Sara’s win shows the strength of people-powered, grassroots efforts. To that end, Food & Water Action knocked on more than 40,000 doors in support of her campaign. We look forward to Sara’s term as County Executive, as she fights against corporate polluters and for a brighter, greener future for all County residents.
In our efforts to slow down climate change and stop the greedy corporations behind it, local fights matter. We’ve seen how city and county elections can move the needle, especially in key regions.
Take Western Pennsylvania. The region had a huge influence in the 2022 midterms. It helped elect a Democrat as governor and keep the U.S. Senate blue. It also voted two new progressives, Summer Lee and Chris Deluzio, into the House to represent districts in Allegheny County.
Now, in the lead-up to 2024, Allegheny County’s local elections are the most important of this year.
Home to the city of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County has faced a long history of extractive, polluting industries. But in this year’s elections, it has a huge opportunity to forge a new future. Our longtime ally, State Rep. Sara Innamorato, is running for County Executive, the most powerful position in the county.
The impact of this election extends far beyond Western Pennsylvania. If Rep. Innamorato wins this election, she will enact game-changing voting rights policy. In such an influential county, getting more voters to the polls could be decisive in next year’s national elections. The turnout here may even decide our next president.
That’s why Food & Water Action is throwing our support into Allegheny County’s elections.
The Race Is On in Allegheny County
Since the birth of the steel industry, Allegheny County has been subject to the whims of big corporations. Now, the steel industry has abandoned its workers and left behind a legacy of poor air quality and pollution.
In more recent years, fracking companies have set up shop. They’ve brought even more pollution, while pumping climate-wrecking gas out of the ground. The fossil fuel industry has further targeted the region for petrochemical and hydrogen hubs.
But the residents of Allegheny County are starting to fight for a different path. They’re showing up for progressive candidates that hold polluters accountable. That includes County Executive candidate Rep. Innamorato.
The office of County Executive enforces pollution regulations and can leverage the county’s multi-billion-dollar budget toward climate action. It makes decisions on policies, protections, and investments that have huge impacts in Western PA and beyond.
We Need Bold Leaders Who Will Fight for Us, Not Corporations
Past leaders have allowed a host of bad actors to act with impunity in this region. Those include major polluters and huge corporations that put profit over people. For too long, Allegheny County’s elected officials have failed to hold these bad actors accountable. In fact, they’ve often worked with them.
But in this May’s primaries, Food & Water Action is supporting a challenger with a track record of standing up for families — and against powerful special interests.
Sara Innamorato has represented Allegheny County in the Pennsylvania House since 2018. She’s helped pass legislation that protects families from rising costs, creates good jobs, and tackles the climate crisis head-on.
As Allegheny County Executive, Innamorato will continue that work: from protecting us from criminal polluters, to helping families save money on energy costs, to improving labor standards and creating new jobs in growing industries.
Expanding Democracy in Allegheny County Could Make or Break 2024
Electing Rep. Innamorato isn’t just essential for Allegheny County’s future — it will influence the results of next year’s national elections. That’s because Allegheny County is the second-largest source of Democratic votes in Pennsylvania, a critical swing state. We’ll need a strong turnout here if we’re to keep the White House blue.
Unfortunately, the County has failed to prioritize voter turnout in recent years. The current County Executive has refused to authorize programs that would expand democracy.
For example, elsewhere in Pennsylvania, early voting sites open on the weekends before Election Day. That makes voting easier for working-class residents who work during the week. But Allegheny County hasn’t approved early voting stations. It’s also voted against policies that would make it easier for residents to vote by mail.
As County Executive, Rep. Innamorato would change this. With her deciding vote on the Board of Elections, Allegheny County would finally enact programs to make voting more accessible for more residents.
A victory for Rep. Innamorato would majorly boost Democrats’ chances in 2024, including in the race for President. These victories are essential to make way for the food, water, and climate policy we need.
How We’re Electing a Climate Champion in Allegheny County
For the past five years, Food & Water Action organizers have worked on the ground in Allegheny County. We’ve gone town-by-town, passing municipal ordinances to protect communities from fracking. We’ve knocked on doors and supported progressive candidates in key races.
Now, we’re pouring our efforts into this race. We’re mobilizing our national volunteer network and the grassroots power we’ve already built in the region. We’ll be writing thousands of letters and knocking on tens of thousands of doors to ensure a strong turnout.
The fight for Allegheny County will be a big one. Fossil fuel interests have had the region in their grip for years, and they’ll fight hard to keep it that way.
With new threats like petrochemicals and hydrogen on the horizon, we need a champion in office who will defend County residents. That champion will also defend surrounding communities that are threatened by dirty industries, too.
Allegheny County can move boldly into a brighter, greener future; one that prioritizes working families, public health, and the existential threat of climate change. But getting there requires progressive leaders like Sara Innamorato, who won’t back down from the action we need.
With your help, we’ll elect bold, progressive leaders in Allegheny County and beyond!