Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia is renowned for his dedication to fighting for environmental and community resilience in his district.
Gioia is inspired by Contra Costa’s storied history and continued dedication to activism and to building a just community, particularly around social justice issues that the community continues to grapple with. From water quality, health services, and transportation to the criminal justice system, whose impact is acutely felt in North Richmond, Gioia’s work spans intersecting social and environmental issues.
“I’m energized by my community’s activists and leaders,” Gioia says. “I love solving challenges in a way that creates more health and equity.”
Gioia’s connection to North Richmond is deeply personal, as he was born and raised in the city, which has rich cultural roots in the Black and Latinx community.
“I’ve cultivated relationships here over thirty years, and I appreciate the community’s belief in the positive role that local governance can play in improving our city,” Gioia says.
Having served on the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) since 1999, Gioia has been instrumental in developing policies to address sea level rise in the region.
As the major regional agency that addresses sea level rise in the Bay Area, BCDC, with people like Gioia, is helping to move policies to protect shorelines from rising seas while promoting community-based projects to restore the region’s watersheds back to health.
Gioia believes that local government plays a crucial role in this work by translating community voices into actionable plans. “With our equity concerns, North Richmond is well-positioned to benefit from resilience projects that offer multiple advantages of community stewardship and climate resilience,” he says.
However, the challenges of financing such projects in the expensive Bay Area persist. Gioia acknowledges the vital importance of continuing to educate and engage the community—and local officials—in taking steps toward climate resilience. According to him, communities like North Richmond’s need to act now.
“These aren’t ‘future’ problems,” he says. “We’re seeing the impacts now from sea level rise, flooding, and storms. We need to create a sense of urgency. The price of not acting is more than acting.”
Looking ahead, Gioia envisions a thriving and resilient North Richmond in 100 years, with a vibrant and accessible shoreline that is enjoyed by the greater East Bay community and improved trails that benefit people while curbing the impacts of climate change.