The U.S. Green Building Council recognized the late Kristin Jacobs as one of seven “July sheroes who use their voices to advance equity and sustainability.”
Jacobs, the former representative for Florida’s 96th District in South Florida, passed away in April after a long battle with cancer. She was just 60 years old.
“The environment was her key issue throughout her political career, and she testified before Congress, advocating for water quality regulations and prioritization of climate change in policymaking,” the group wrote of Jacobs’ accomplishments.
“President [Barack] Obama appointed her to a national ocean policy task force for her passion and efficacy within the environmental policy sector. The Parkland School shooting, which left 17 dead, was within her district, and soon afterward, Jacobs supported reforms to raise the age to buy a rifle to 21 and tried to boost funding for school-based mental health services.”
“People in her community and within the state of Florida refer to her as a trustworthy person, an eco-warrior, a true friend and an incredible woman.,” the group continued.
Indeed, Jacobs found inspiration in all that Florida has to offer, especially its springs, lakes and oceans. She fought fiercely to protect the natural resources in a state she loved not only for its natural beauty, but for its salvation.
Jacobs moved to Florida with her then-abusive husband, but found a new life packed with motivation she passed on to others she met along the way.
One of Jacobs’ crowning accomplishments was the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Compact, which she spearheaded.
President Obama praised the compact as “a model not just for the country, but for the world.”
“But to hear Kristin tell it, it was partly about protecting an area of the state she loved dearly,” Steve Vancore, 59, her romantic partner, told Florida Politics after her death. “But part of it was also for the people who put others first, who came together for a common cause and who set aside political, partisan, regional and personality differences to go out and put good things into the world. That was, to some extent, her legacy.”
As a Broward County Commissioner, Jacobs also started the Broward Water and Climate Academy, a series of four-day seminars teaching elected officials how to manage water supply, reclaimed water and drainage, as well as the possible effects of climate change.
It didn’t take Jacobs long to find her voice after she came to Florida. She escaped domestic violence shortly after moving to Florida, seeking refuge with the Women in Distress domestic violence shelter with her two children.
From there, she engaged in neighborhood meetings, getting involved with various community projects.
Her star only continued to shine brighter, winning a seat on the Broward County Commission in 1998 and easily winning reelection in 2002 and 2006 and running unopposed in 2010.
She ran unsuccessfully, the only time she didn’t claim victory, for the U.S. House in 2012 and then returned to politics in 2014, winning her House seat by a landslide in that year’s primary.
Her final act as a lawmaker, one she fought for despite immense pain at the end of her illness, protected sharks in Florida waters from the inhumane practice of shark finning, in which sharks are caught, their fins remove and then often thrown back into the water to bleed to death.