I’ve been a member of the Sierra Club since 1972, and until this year, have never questioned their endorsements of candidates in national, state and local elections. In fact, with regard to local elections in particular, I’ve essentially, and with gratitude, let them do my homework for me. Such is my respect for the values of this organization.
However, this year, having become increasingly disappointed with the direction in which our city has been moving, particularly concerning the quality and scope of downtown development, I’ve been paying a good deal of attention to our upcoming City Council elections and have come to the surprising conclusion that the Sierra Club, this time, and no doubt despite the best of intensions, has endorsed the wrong candidates.
As I see it, with regard to the usual environmental issues, clean air and water, the conservation of natural resources, and other matters having to do with the natural environment, the Sierra Club could easily have endorsed any, or better yet all, of the six finalists. However, with regard to our urban environment, the candidates are split into two very different groups — those seeking to continue on the path we’ve been on for the last four or more years, and those who see a need for a considerable change of direction — and [the Western North Carolina Sierra Club] is asking us to vote for more of the same.
I believe that evidence supporting this statement can easily be found in a careful reading of the candidates’ own statements, as well as in the gravitational pull that our vice mayor, the only incumbent in the race, seems to have had on the other two members of his slate, and on the club as well (why is WENOCA paying for yard signs supporting only Mayfield, Hunt and Simerly, when for the primary election they endorsed Rich Lee as well?)
At any rate, as strange as it feels to be opposing the Sierra Club, I urge my fellow members, and, indeed, anyone who feels that this election is as much about protecting our urban as our natural environment, not to take the club’s endorsement with the sort of knee-jerk trust that I myself have exercised in the past. If you take the time to do a bit of election homework, you may find that even the Sierra Club can sometimes make mistakes.
— John Morris