Letter writer: Sierra Club backs Hunt and Mayfield for City Council

Graphic by Lori Deaton

The Sierra Club looks at a broad range of environmental issues. After reviewing questionnaires and interviewing candidates, the Sierra Club has endorsed Marc Hunt and Julie Mayfield for Asheville City Council. Both Marc and Julie have a long history of environmental accomplishments and leadership.

Both Mayfield and Hunt join the Sierra Club in their commitment to:
• Closing the local coal-powered electric plant and replacing it with a combination of renewable energy and energy conservation, and limiting the size of a gas-powered replacement plant.
• Implementation of the city’s plan to reduce its carbon usage by 80 percent by 2030.
• Building more greenways, bike lanes and sidewalks to make our city more livable.
• Reducing urban sprawl.
• A public space, either a park or a plaza, across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence downtown and opposing another hotel or high-rise building on that space.

— Ken Brame
WNC Sierra Club Political Chair
Leicester

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13 thoughts on “Letter writer: Sierra Club backs Hunt and Mayfield for City Council

  1. UninformedSwingVoter

    Who or what is the Sierra club and why should I care what they think? By the way, no, I’m still not voting for Julie Mayfield, I already went to early voting, she’s a loser, so stop spamming my mailbox with flyers TYVM.

  2. Grant Milin

    Yesterday I sent an email to the WNC section of the Sierra Club stating that I will not be endorsing Sierra Club or MountainTrue on NC Clean Power Plan / Duke Energy WNC Modernization Project strategy. These and other nonprofits have started their gambit as to being at the center of knowledge on NC Clean Power Plan and Duke Energy WNC Modernization Project strategy. On NC Clean Power Plan issues a consortium of PhDs, EPA and DOE units, and the private sector can help us take what Duke Energy is proposing and add more value. This can’t be about our environmental nonprofits. They’re views are too narrow in contrast to what CleanTech markets offer and they do not have a rational plan.

    The idea of whether candidates have something significant in mind as to shifting Duke Energy’s WNC Modernization Project strategy around received zero analysis from media, or really anyone, during the primary. Which 2015 Asheville city council candidates have the best insights and action steps step up when it comes to Asheville’s role in energy innovation for climate change mitigation and economic development payoffs to our people… and to better establish Asheville as a national and international center for sustainability strategy? A Sierra Club endorsement has little corollary value when it comes to these high stakes electrical grid modernization issues. The Sierra Club is one of the least capable among the national environmental groups when it comes to energy strategy.

    Here’s what I got News and Observer to publish on these matters:

    Buncombe is at the center of the NC Clean Power Plan

    http://www.newsobserver.com/opinion/op-ed/article37344525.html

    Citizens deserved better from government and the media on these high stakes ‘Plan B’ choices around Duke Energy’s WNC Modernization Project. The transmission lines and substations have always been about the size of the NGCC unit and whether we can use an evidence-based process locally to harmonize these high stakes strategies coming from various players. Now Duke Energy is moving on the NGCC plant, apparently ahead of the NCUC transmission line certificate timeline:

    Duke Energy to file next month for permit to build Asheville natural gas plant

    http://bizjournals.com/charlotte/blog/energy/2015/10/duke-energy-to-file-next-month-for-permit-to-build.html

  3. bsummers

    I worked closely with Julie Mayfield during the State attempt to seize Asheville’s water system. This was my experience with her:

    In her capacity as WNC Alliance director, with all the political and institutional clout that comes with that, Julie failed to come out swinging for Asheville when the State came for our water. After our ad hoc group SaveOurWaterWNC initiated actions like the petition to reject the seizure, the rallies etc., she would give a measure of support – it would have been conspicuous not to. But she initiated nothing much on her own, and our more aggressive strategies, she either walked away from, tried to get us to scale back, or outright set herself in opposition.

    Here’s an example: some may remember that in 2012, before the actual seizure bill, Mssrs. Moffitt, McGrady and Ramsey got passed a precursor MSD bill, that set the stage for the seizure to come.

    http://ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2011&BillID=h1009

    Our group was urging people to lobby then-Gov. Bev Perdue to veto this bill. Asheville’s City Council voted unanimously to ask Perdue to veto it. But Julie Mayfield lobbied Bev Perdue not to veto the bill. And in fact, that’s what Perdue wound up doing – she allowed the bill to take effect without her signature. Had they been forced to come back and override the veto, or re-file it next session, with the public awareness that what was really behind it was the seizure of Asheville’s water, it might have gone down differently. But we’ll never know. Julie worked behind the scenes against what we and City Council were trying to do.

    Her argument was that vetoing it wouldn’t have a practical effect – the GOPers had enough votes to override; that we needed Perdue to keep her political powder dry for other vetoes to come; and most significantly to me: that having the bill vetoed would just make McGrady, Moffitt & Ramsey mad, and then things would get even worse.

    This was a trend that I perceived quite often in our discussions, that boiled down to: don’t do things that will make Chuck McGrady mad. When Mountain Voices Alliance proposed a forum at Jubilee that would give real opponents of the water seizure a voice that McGrady & crew would have to respond to – Julie tried to get us to cancel it. We went ahead with it, and that wound up being the most direct confrontation with Asheville residents that Moffitt and McGrady ever got. Katie Hicks of Clean Water for North Carolina, Joe Minicozzi of the Asheville Downtown Association, Council members Hunt and Jan Davis, myself and others were on a panel with them that they couldn’t run away from. It was beautiful – and Julie had tried to stop it.

    And this was the tone in our behind-the-scenes working group, which at times included us, Asheville City Council members, and other statewide groups like Sierra Club, NC Conservation Network, American Rivers, etc.. Paraphrased comments from Julie:

    “We can trust Chuck to keep the bill from getting as bad as Moffitt wants it to be.”
    “We can trust Chuck to put things in the bill that we want – environmental protections, etc.”
    “I just had breakfast with Chuck, and he tells us that this is the best offer that the City will get.”

    And this is was the real jaw-dropper:

    “At the end of the day, I think we’ll be really glad that Chuck is working on this bill.”

    It got so bad that we had to ask Julie to stop meeting with Chuck and acting as if she was negotiating for us.

    There’s more, but you get the idea. I came away convinced that it was more important to Julie to protect her relationship with Chuck McGrady, the one “good” Republican on the environment (and the political clout within the enviro community that came with that) than it was to really fight hard for the City of Asheville.

    Was she deliberately selling us out, or was she simply an incredibly bad strategist who failed to read the political players and winds properly? I don’t know. I just know that, in my opinion, she’s absolutely the last person who should be on City Council at this important time for Asheville.

    • NFB

      So, who among the candidates running this year did the most to fight the seizure of Asheville’s water system?

      • bsummers

        None, that I know of. John Miall spoke out some against the seizure, but it soon appeared to me that his motivation was just to blame the City, in the lead-up to his race against Esther for Mayor in 2013.

        Carl Mumpower came out sounding tough, threatening to resign from the GOP and persuade others to do so as well, if the NCGA passed a seizure bill. They did… he didn’t. If anything, he may have done more harm than good by signaling to McGrady & crew that his threats were empty, and that he represented the high-water mark in “principled Republican” opposition to the State power grab.

        Other than that, no one stands out. Some of the 16 candidates may have spoke out or participated in some way at the time, but it didn’t register.

        Since then, the only candidate that our group has sat down with that really seemed to get it and pledged to keep up the fight was Rich Lee. Again, some others may have just the same fire to fight for Asheville’s control of it’s infrastructure, but we haven’t heard it.

      • bsummers

        Buddies they may be, but that article you cite says that Perdue appointed her to the Mountain Resources Commission, not the WNC Alliance.

  4. Hauntedheadnc

    Considering that dense urban developement patterns, including highrises, are the most efficient and therefore most environmentally-friendly kind of development, why would the Sierra Club oppose that?

  5. bsummers

    And whoa.

    Both Mayfield and Hunt join the Sierra Club in their commitment to:
    • A public space, either a park or a plaza, across from the Basilica of St. Lawrence downtown and opposing another hotel or high-rise building on that space.

    From Julie’s website:
    “…if making the entire property into a welcoming, active public space is financially feasible, I wholeheartedly support that option. If it is not, however, I remain open to a solution that delivers meaningful civic space and a building that contributes to the urban fabric, beauty, and livability of Asheville.”
    http://www.juliemayfieldforcouncil.org/where-i-stand-on-the-property-across-from-the-basilica/

    If it’s “financially feasible”? Julie’s “commitment” to a public space sounds pretty squishy to me. Ditto Marc Hunt:

    Hunt, the only incumbent running, said the issue is more nuanced. He and several candidates say they want a building that will produce tax revenue, won’t cost taxpayers money and has public space around it, such as a plaza.
    http://www.citizen-times.com/story/news/local/2015/09/28/park-pits-asheville-liberals-against-each-other/72987440/

    Sounds like what they are really guiding us toward is another highrise and a private-property concrete corporate “plaza”. Yay, potted trees, corporate logos, and no loitering, punk.

    • hauntedheadnc

      I’m thinking one more like that little area in front of the art museum, but then, my thinking is not quite so black and white on the issue as yours is.

  6. OneWhoKnows

    the silly sierra club endorsement is all the MORE reason not to vote for any of these ‘progressive’ clowneys …

    cannot believe all the focus on this silly piece of ground with ALL the OTHER PROBLEMS affecting AVL, but, see, the people
    are JUST too IGNORANT to know anything about all that … duh.

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