Billionaire 2020 Democratic candidate Tom Steyer campaigned in Compton today at the non-profit Center for Sustainable Communities, speaking with local leaders ahead of a discussion with Compton Mayor Aja Brown on Wednesday night.
Following a tour of the facility, Steyer ceremoniously planted two trees in the community garden at the center, one apple and one avocado. He has made climate change a centerpiece of his campaign and plans to plant a tree for every person who volunteers on his campaign.
“I understand we’re just starting with a few trees. We can’t substantively make a difference. But we’re making a point in terms of what we value,” Steyer said, before getting down on one knee and personally planting the first tree in the ground.
A hedge fund manager and philanthropist, Steyer began his presidential campaign in July and qualified for both the October and November Presidential debates. The visit to Compton began the campaign’s efforts to plant trees across America.
“We’re starting in Compton because we want to be an environmental justice-based response to the climate crisis,” he said. “We wanted it to be in a place that symbolized our commitment to the communities where this society has chosen to focus its air and water pollution.”
“I’m making climate the number one priority of my administration, but in doing so it’s also critical that we put environmental justice at the very center of all of those plans,” Steyer said.
In 2012, Steyer retired from the hedge fund he founded and divested of his carbon-polluting investments, founding the progressive advocacy group NextGenAmerica. “I’m the candidate who has by far the greatest history of fighting climate change over the last ten years,” he said.
The Center for Sustainable Communities, which opened in 2017, provides a wide variety of housing, education, and business services to local residents that help those in the community build a successful future.
“If a kid from Compton gets a good education and becomes productive, that is good for the people of Maine, and South Carolina, and Iowa, and Texas and everyplace else.” said Steyer outside the facility.
George Woods, a Compton resident, appreciated Steyer coming to town. “I feel damn good! Donald Trump ain’t coming to Compton!” he said.
When asked if the visit might influence his vote, Woods replied, “Yeah! 90 percent! I can tell all my friends. Somebody touched down here to talk. Not somewhere else. Here.”
Steyer made an impassioned call to those voters most concerned with combating the climate crisis.
“I’m the only candidate who’ll say it’s the number one priority. If this is what you care about, then I am the person with the history to show I care.”
Following the event, Steyer met with Mayor Aja Brown at Compton College on Wednesday evening to discuss the city’s priorities and speak with residents about their hopes for national leadership.