It’s never too early in the political game to get a head start on a primary contest, and that’s exactly what Jill Miller Zimon is doing. Back in the August, Zimon announced that she was throwing her hat into the ring for the Ohio Statehouse race to represent the newly redrawn 12th District. I first crossed paths with Zimon when we met at an event devoted to the feminist blogging community. She was later a colleague at Moms Clean Air Force, which is devoted to mobilizing women around the impact of air pollution on children’s health.
In a Moms Clean Air Force exclusive interview, Zimon discusses her activism, her concerns for her state, and energy independence.
You have been involved in on the ground activism for many years, coming from a background in law, social work, and journalism. Part of that focus has been in fighting for clean air in Ohio, bringing recognition to the threat of coal ash, and amplifying those issues by writing for Moms Clean Air Force. After four years serving on the Pepper Pike City Council, what has motivated you to run for the Ohio House in District 12?
Taking action at the state level is a must for affecting change when it comes to policy that will preserve and enhance our environment. In Ohio, there is a concept called “home rule” that normally would allow for local control and community standards to govern many environmental matters. But home rule has been, and is continuing to be eroded, by numerous efforts coming out of the Statehouse. I want to be a part of the effort that will not only restore local control but will battle the bills being proposed that will further negatively affect the environment. Currently, concerns over fracking and our water assets—especially the Great Lakes—are uppermost in many Ohioans’ minds.
What do you see as the primary challenges to your district and the state of Ohio in respect to the environment?
We need to be sure that Ohioans’ voices are being heard and that our elected officials are aware of our extreme dissatisfaction with their often reckless disregard that pits economic development and business over and above the environment. This is a seminal challenge to many communities. We cannot fail to take care of our natural resources and our living environments. We must also invest in growing the economy in ways that help us achieve energy independence and efficiency. The alternative path will cost us our health, our families and our future. The Moms Clean Air Force collaboration with Clean Energy Ohio is a great model of how we can amplify our concerns and affect change. A perfect example is how a group of moms in central Ohio expressed concerns about the use of toxic cleaning chemicals in schools. They have mobilized and are now actively promoting the Safe Chemical Act (TSCA) reform.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz has written a new book, For the Next Generation. She emphasizes the importance of protecting the future of American’s children, while referencing her role as a mother. How does being a parent inform your point of view?
There is no question that being a parent means that, whether you wish to be or not, you are a role model. You are a role model to your kids, to other parents, and to the community that helps raise your children or otherwise interacts with you as part of a family unit. So, the choices we make as parents deeply affects not only them—but also the world around us. I don’t think I’ve had any more satisfying experience in terms of being a public servant than in observing my kids, and other children and adults, as they express concern for what affects or interests them. Issues like recycling and clean water are just two examples. My children, who are 19, 16 and 13, have shown incredible knowledge and awareness, often beyond what I knew! It is those moments that make me smile and know that I’m doing something of immeasurable value by being in public service.
Thank you, Jill!