Did you know that changing the color of roads could lower their temperature by more than 10 degrees? Or that strategically planting trees could lower air temperature by up to 40 degrees? Neither did we, until we heard the latest episode of The Citizen’s newest podcast, How to Really Run a City.
Hosted by former Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, former Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Citizen co-founder Larry Platt, each episode of the podcast unpacks what it takes to govern a modern American city, just as Philadelphia is diving into a mayoral election.
Each also features a guest star. In this episode: Kate Gallego, Mayor of Phoenix, Arizona, which is quite literally the nation’s hottest city. (Last month’s episode featured Oakland’s Libby Schaaf.)
How to Really Run a City … like Phoenix
Gallego, who has an undergraduate degree in environmental studies from Harvard University and an MBA from Wharton, did not take the typical lawyer-turned-pol path to her position as mayor. And, that’s a good thing: It’s made her uniquely suited to think critically and act effectively on pressing issues like climate change.
Gallego is also co-chair of Climate Mayors, a bipartisan network of mayors across the country committed to meaningfully addressing climate change. She’s also the first mayor in the nation to have hired a Director of Heat Response and Mitigation. In addition to cool pavement and shade initiatives, Gallego has led the charge toward building an EV (electric vehicle) infrastructure to support a sustainable future and made investments in smart business growth.
“Climate change is something we’ve got to get right for the future of Phoenix. And, frankly, we have a lot of incentive to get it right because we feel it. For some communities, maybe it’s a hypothetical future problem, but for us, right now, every year in Phoenix, it’s something we need to prepare for,” Gallego shares.
Lessons from Detroit, Atlanta + Philly
For their part, Reed, Nutter, and Platt bring their signature wit and wisdom to episode 2 of How to Really Run a City. Their free-wheeling conversation touches on the pep talks Ambassador Andrew Young, Jr. used to give Reed; Nutter’s surprising strategy for working with Philadelphia City Council; and how to really get stuff done when leading a city (or any organization) with competing demands.
“I was reforming a pension system that was getting ready to turn us into Detroit. It really was eating everything else. You didn’t have money for police. You didn’t have money for economic development. None of that,” Reed says.
“I think you get stuff done as mayor by really thinking about what it is you want your city to be. Because it really is about doing the basics so well, that you get to do what you want. A Black mayor of a broke city is a Black mayor that’s not going to be mayor long. So if you don’t take care of crime and fiscal issues, you’re gonna lose it.”
These gems and more are all part of this powerful new episode. So whether you’re on the treadmill or your morning commute or just need a boost to your day, head over to wherever you get your podcasts and listen to How to Really Run a City now.
But consider yourself warned: It will make you feel — gasp — hopeful about the state of the world, and all of the good things happening in it.
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