Creating Successful Communities Through Positive and Determined Leadership
In This Episode:
[02:36] Guest Mayor Rey Leon is introduced.
[02:56] Mayor Leon describes his community.
[05:54] Mayor Leon tells how long he’s been mayor.
[07:16] Mayor Leon conveys what he would like to accomplish during his time as mayor.
[19:20] Mayor Leon gives the status of three projects.
[21:38] Mayor Leon identifies some of the challenges he faces as a mayor in a small community.
Guest and Organization:
Rey Leon is the Mayor of Huron, California. He was born in Fresno and raised in the Huron area. Mr. León is a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley where he obtained a BA in Chicano Studies with an emphasis in public health. He is the founder and Executive Director of the San Joaquin Valley Latino Environmental Advancement & Policy Project (Valley LEAP), a Latino Valley based environmental non-profit organization. Mr. León is based in Fresno for the Valley and focuses on environmental and transportation justice, air quality, climate change, energy, green jobs and community development. Mr. Leon has been working to ensure that environmental justice principles are advanced in the regions institutions and culture. Rey is founder of the San Joaquin Valley Regional Green Jobs Coalition which counts on 300+ members and co-founder of the Central Valley Air Quality Coalition. As Co-chair of CVAQ, Leon helped advance some of the greatest victories for air quality in the Valley including the ending of agriculture industry’s exemption from the clean air act and the placement of two public members, a doctor and a scientist, onto the region’s air pollution control district. Mr. León sits on various boards and committees including the Center on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies (CEERT) and member of the California Air Resources Board Environmental Justice AB 32 Advisory Committee. Mr. León has been organizing in the Valley for the past twenty years and for the past eleven years has been advocating and successfully building coalitions, community capacity, advancing public policy; placement of the first PM 2.5 air quality monitor on the West Side of the Valley, systems change; developing the first ever environmental justice strategy and committees for both the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the Fresno County Council of Governments. Most recently, Valley LEAP has completed an Environmental Justice Planning Project and Report for the farmworker community of Huron where over 30 projects to improve mobility, access and safety were identified. Through Valley LEAP, Rey continues to organize with the grassroots, grasstops, agencies and other partners to promote sustainable development, clean energy alternatives, green jobs and reduction of pollution & GHG’s in concentrated clusters of poverty in the central San Joaquin Valley. Mr. Leon successfully works with Valley communities to achieve environmental and climate justice.
Take Away Quotes:
“Huron is a farm-worker city. It’s got the highest rate of Latinos for an incorporated city in the nation…And, of course, it’s a small community, around 7,000 on paper. I venture to say that there’s at least 10,000 residents. We, having an agricultural base and being a farm-worker community, we have a population that good amount of folks that are, I would say, economic refugees… It’s a community that speaks a good nine languages at least, which, to me, is amazing.”
“[A plaza is] just a magical space where you’re able to bond with the rest of the folks in your community, some way, somehow. It’s where young men, young women meet their mates; it’s where entertainment is shared; it’s where farmers’ markets happen; it’s where you do some exercise out there; it’s just ’the’ place.”
“The vision, the goal, my dream…is making Huron the greenest farm-worker city in the country.”