Q&A: District 3 Candidate Iyamide House on the environment and development
Bowie City Council Candidate: Iyamide House
Occupation: Business owner, licensed mental health clinician
Education: BA and MS from Johns Hopkins University
Years lived in Bowie: 7
Current or previous elected office, if any: None
Which seat are you running for on the Bowie City Council? District 3
Endorsements from environmental leaders, if any:
I’ve been endorsed by Progressive Maryland, a statewide organization building power for working families, which does environmental justice work like tackling air pollution from trash incinerators that have been placed in predominantly low-income neighborhoods of color.
What is your stance on accepting donations from developers? Have you received developer campaign donations for this or previous campaigns?
I believe that elected officials should be accountable to the people, not to large corporate developers. I have not accepted any donations from developers.
What are your plans, if any, to address concerns about overdevelopment in the Bowie area?
I am definitely concerned about expansion in terms of how congested our community already is, especially our overcrowded schools and main roads. I don’t want our resources to continue to be stretched too thin. I believe in smart growth that promotes sustainable development while protecting our natural resources. By working with the city and stakeholders, I will advocate for responsible zoning regulations that prioritize quality of life like protecting green spaces, increasing tree canopy, and creating more walking, biking, and hiking trails.
I will also work to preserve our historic landmarks and promote adaptive reuse of existing structures, rather than unnecessary demolition so that we can maintain the character of our neighborhoods while accommodating responsible growth in the city–key word here being responsible. I’m very pro-small business. I love mixed-use developments that integrate residential, commercial, and recreational spaces. I feel like these create more vibrant communities, reduce traffic congestion, and support more local shops.
If elected to the City Council, I will ensure that we are engaging in open dialogue by conducting public hearings and surveys, and involving community members and local business owners in the decision-making process to help address and mitigate these concerns effectively. By incorporating diverse perspectives, we can shape development that aligns with the needs and desires of our community.
Do you believe climate change is real and if so, what climate change issues, if any, are you planning to tackle while on the Bowie City Council?
Absolutely. This is an issue I hold of utmost importance. I’m committed to addressing various climate change issues that impact our community. Here are the top five initiatives I plan to tackle if elected to City Council:
- I will advocate for the adoption of renewable energy sources like solar and wind power in our city to reduce our carbon footprint and promote a healthier environment.
- I will work towards implementing green infrastructure projects, such as green roofs, rain gardens, and permeable pavements so we can better manage stormwater runoff, improve water quality, and mitigate the effects of climate change.
- I will champion efforts to reduce waste generation, especially food waste, and increase recycling rates in Bowie.
- I will prioritize measures to enhance our city's resilience against climate change impacts, such as extreme weather events. This includes investing in flood management infrastructure, updating emergency response plans, and collaborating with regional partners to develop comprehensive adaptation strategies.
- I believe in the power of community engagement and education to drive positive change, so I will actively involve residents, businesses, and organizations in discussions and initiatives related to climate change. By fostering dialogue and providing resources, we can empower our community to take proactive steps towards a more sustainable future.
After reading the Bowie Climate Action Plan, how would you work to implement it if elected?
I take our Climate Action Plan very seriously, especially as a dedicated resident and community leader. But if elected, I would look forward to working with fellow council members to introduce and pass legislation that aligns with the goals of the Plan. This could include measures such as energy efficiency requirements for new buildings, incentives for renewable energy installations, or regulations on greenhouse gas emissions from industrial activities.
I’ll also support allocating funds towards renewable energy projects, energy-efficient infrastructure upgrades, or public transportation expansion and more EV charging stations; and collaborating with community members, businesses, and other stakeholders to build partnerships and garner support for climate initiatives.
I also want to work with different sectors to develop innovative solutions and leverage resources to best incorporate sustainable policies into city operations and practices, such as purchasing environmentally-friendly municipal goods, promoting waste reduction, and encouraging sustainable services and transportation options within the city.
Furthermore, I will work with my colleagues to regularly review and assess the progress towards the Climate Action Plan's goals so we can identify areas of improvement and ensure that the city remains on track to achieve its targets. Use your platform as a City Council member to raise awareness about the importance of addressing climate change and showcase the benefits of implementing the plan. I’m all about walking the walk, not just talking the talk! Real action must be taken by all of us to address climate change on a global scale, starting right here in Bowie.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
How will you ensure that funds are allocated to the city’s environmental initiatives?
I would work to prioritize a combination of grants and partnerships with private entities to lessen the load from local tax revenue that would be placed on residents, if elected to office. I’d also ensure that the City Council works collaboratively with stakeholders to ensure that the necessary funding and resources are secured to maintain the Plan long term–of course we will need to re-implement it past 2025.
With the rise of inflation, what are your long-term plans to reduce home energy costs?
I will support and advocate for the expansion of energy efficiency programs within our community. These programs can provide resources and incentives for homeowners to make energy-efficient upgrades, such as installing insulation, upgrading appliances, or adopting smart home technologies. By improving energy efficiency, we can reduce energy consumption and lower utility bills over the long term.
As a resident with solar panels, I advocate for the installation of solar panels on residential properties and exploring opportunities for community solar projects. By shifting towards renewable energy, residents can reduce their reliance on traditional fossil fuel-based energy sources and potentially lower their energy costs. I can also make sure that the city maintains a good relationship with utility providers, and doesn’t cut deals with them, so that together we are truly working for the people and can mitigate the impact of inflation on energy costs.
What role, if any, do schools, businesses and homeowners play in protecting the environment locally?
A huge role! Schools can integrate environmental education into their curriculum, teaching students about the importance of conservation, recycling, and sustainable practices. By fostering an eco-conscious mindset, we empower the next generation to become environmental stewards. And we can, and should, be putting solar panels on our schools for a variety of reasons but teaching kids about energy efficiency is one.
I volunteered with the school garden at Tulip Grove Elementary, so I saw firsthand how a beautification project can act as a key environmental education opportunity for youth and would like to see more of that. For businesses, they have the power to lead by example as the economic drivers of our community. They can implement eco-friendly practices, such as energy-efficient technologies, waste reduction strategies, and sustainable supply chains–all to reduce their own environmental impact and also inspire others to follow suit so we can have a positive chain reaction and actually create the change we need.
Homeowners can do big things like properly insulating their homes and adopting solar power. But it’s also all the small everyday changes that can make a big difference too–practicing water conservation, reducing waste, and supporting local farmers and businesses (I love our Sunday farmers market!). I firmly believe that collective action is key to creating a sustainable future.
This Q&A was compiled by Ariyana Griffin, The Bowie Sun student environmental reporter.