Ann Arbor Mayor John Hieftje has been named the recipient of the Ecology Center's Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism. The award will be presented at the organization's annual fall dinner Nov. 12 at Zingerman's Cornman Farms in Dexter. Best-selling author Anna Lappé will be the featured speaker at the event.
As mayor of Ann Arbor since 2000, Hieftje has advocated a variety of environmental initiatives that will benefit the city, its people and the larger region for generations to come, according to Ecology Center director Michael Garfield.
“John Hieftje was the leading champion of the parks and greenbelt initiative that has helped save thousands of acres of natural areas and farmland near Ann Arbor, including farms producing food for the local community,” Garfield said. “He re-worked the city’s transportation funding policies to promote non‐motorized alternatives, making Ann Arbor one of the more bike- and pedestrian-friendly communities in the Midwest. And he has been one of southeast Michigan’s leading advocates for better transit, helping steer the successful recent expansion of bus service in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti, and hopefully soon bringing commuter rail and high-speed trains to the region. He also presided over the largest expansion of the region’s recycling programs in 20 years.”
Long before climate change was a topic of national debate, John Hieftje made climate action and clean energy a local priority. Under his leadership, the city’s municipal operations have dramatically increased their energy efficiency and renewable energy use, and the city went on to develop a climate action plan that would reduce city climate emissions by 90 percent.
“John Hieftje has demonstrated that cities can be leaders of the movement to build a sustainable world,” Garfield says.
A lecturer in public policy at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, Hieftje is not running for re-election and his term ends this year.
In addition to his years as mayor and before that on the city council, Hieftje served on the Ann Arbor Energy Commission, the Michigan Climate Action Council and the boards of the Huron River Watershed Council and the Lake Superior Conservancy and Watershed Council. He was chair of the board of directors of Recycle Ann Arbor from 1989 to 1991.
The Ecology Center's Herbert L. Munzel Award for Environmental Activism was created in 2004 to honor "inspirational, courageous, and effective community-based advocacy by a Michigan resident for clean air, safe water, and healthy communities over many years." The award is named after a long-time southeast Michigan resident who fought for clean air and water for more than 40 years.