This UN Climate Advisor Worked on Global Policy. Now She Wants to Help Phoenix.


Photo courtesy of Yassamin Ansari campaign.

By Alicia Barrón

November 12, 2020

“Our work now will ensure that future generations can still live here in safety and in good health.”

Phoenix City Council candidate Yassamin Ansari is ready.

While the general election is wrapping up, the countdown to the March runoff race between Ansari and opponent Cinthia Estela for the seat representing District 7 is just heating up. 

But Ansari is embracing the competition. To her, it’s a sign that the residents of the district covering downtown, central and south Phoenix in addition to Laveen are ready for change. The seat was held by outgoing Councilmember Michael Nowakowski for 12 years. 

“I’ve had so many residents tell me — when I’m knocking on doors — that this is the first time a candidate has ever knocked on their door before,” she said. 

The competitive nature of the race and historic voter turnout were both signs to Ansari that residents were ready to engage like never before.

Photo courtesy of Yassamin Ansari campaign.

“I am more than ready to take on all the responsibilities of a City Councilwoman, whether it’s fixing speed bumps and repaving our roads or tackling long-term issues like air pollution and criminal justice reform,” she wrote on her campaign website.

Committed to Climate Change

Ansari’s resume is impressive. An Arizona native and daughter of immigrants, she graduated from Stanford and Cambridge. She previously worked on the Global Climate Action Summit, and in the United Nations secretary-general’s office. To top it off, Ansari was named on Forbes’ “30 Under 30: Law and Policy” list for 2020.

Ansari considers climate change to be the most defining issue of our time.

She’s quick to point out that Phoenix residents experience some of the worst air pollution in the country, including deadly heatwaves, dangerous wildfires, and drought. 

“By breathing dirty air every day, we are putting our health and lives at risk as Phoenicians.”

Photo courtesy of Yassamin Ansari campaign.

That’s why Ansari said she’s committed to taking bold, local climate action to transform Phoenix into what she described as the world’s most sustainable desert city. 

“We must invest in renewable energy, prioritize sustainable transportation and infrastructure, plant thousands of trees and improve our shade structures, and ultimately, clean up our air and water for everyone,” Ansari explained. “Our work now will ensure that future generations can still live here in safety and in good health.”

Putting in the work

Ansari plans to spend the next four months leading up to the election meeting the people she hopes to represent. 

“The main priority is talking to residents,” Ansari said. “I’m actually really excited to get back on the field and start knocking on doors again. Meeting residents and talking about what’s most important to them truly is my favorite part of running for office.”

Ansari is proud of how robust her campaign field operation has been, despite the pandemic and a crowded election year.

When COVID hit, Ansari’s campaign pivoted all of their field resources to no-contact literature drops — commonly known as “lit drops” — and phone calls to residents, where they also checked on their health and safety. 

Photo courtesy of Yassamin Ansari campaign.

Once it was safe to start knocking on doors again, they did so while taking extreme health precautions like maintaining social distancing and wearing masks. The team ultimately made contact with over 100,000 District 7 residents before Election Day.

Ansari credits Arizona organizers for the state’s notable flip in the recent election.

“Arizona is turning blue, and it’s all thanks to the incredible organizers in Arizona for putting in the work this election cycle,” she said

She acknowledged that the city’s brown and Black communities helped turn Arizona blue, crediting organizations like Mi Familia Vota, Black Phoenix Organizing Collective, PODER in Action, LUCHA, and Puente. 

“They are at the heart of this blue wave, and I’m so proud of the results that we worked so so hard for.”

Photo courtesy of Yassamin Ansari campaign.


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