Letter writer: Sierra Club endorses three for City Council

Graphic by Lori Deaton

 The Sierra Club has endorsed Julie Mayfield, Marc Hunt and Lindsey Simerly for Asheville City Council after reviewing the records, experience and positions of the candidates on a broad range of environmental issues rather than one single issue. All three of these candidates join the Sierra Club in supporting:
• Closure of the Asheville coal-fired electric plant and construction of a natural gas power plant only after maximizing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
• Full implementation of  the city’s 80 percent carbon-reduction initiative.
• More greenways, bike lanes, sidewalks and improved bus service to make our city more livable for all residents.
• Supporting a significant public plaza or park, and opposing a hotel, across from the Basilica [of St. Lawrence].

Mayfield has spent most of her career working as an environmental attorney and for environmental organizations protecting the environment. Hunt spent much of his career working on land conservation and spent years as chair of the city’s greenways commission championing greenways and bike lanes. Simerly worked for an environmental organization battling fast-food chains to get them to use sustainable forest products in their paper products.

 — Ken Brame
WNC Sierra Club Chair

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7 thoughts on “Letter writer: Sierra Club endorses three for City Council

  1. John Morris

    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 WENOCA 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 now 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.

  2. bsummers

    Julie Mayfield faced a terrible choice during the early days of the fight over Asheville’s water, and I think she chose wrong. I believe she chose maintaining her good relationship with Chuck McGrady over fighting really hard for local control of water. Ken Brame knows this well – he sat in on many of the meetings, and got the same emails from Julie to our working group. This was her message:

    Don’t do anything that will make the Republicans mad;
    Don’t urge Gov. Perdue to veto the 1st MSD bill, even though City Council voted unanimously to do so;
    Trust Chuck to make the bill “less bad”;
    Even though the bill hasn’t even come up in the Senate, we’re pretty sure we’ve lost already. Let’s just congratulate ourselves for trying…


    Everyone knows that Chuck will be Raleigh’s enforcer over Asheville for the foreseeable future. Whether it’s some statewide edict from the legislature, another local issue that Chuck wants for his own political ends, or the continuing fight over the water system, it’s a given that he and City Council will be butting heads, as they have been for the past couple of years. If she wins a seat on Council, Julie will be facing this choice over & over again. Do something that will alienate Chuck (the guy she needs to accomplish anything in the environmental realm), or fail to protect the interests of the City of Asheville. If you support Julie’s work on the environment, why in the world would you want to see her face that potential loss of political influence? Unless you suspect, as I do, that she’s likely to protect that over fighting really hard for the City.

  3. OneWhoKnows

    Smarter people just don’t support the silly Sierra Club anymore…we’ve ‘progressed’ beyond their minutia … move along Sierra…

  4. Grant Milin

    “Closure of the Asheville coal-fired electric plant and construction of a natural gas power plant only after maximizing the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.”

    We’ll have to wait too long for renewable energy and energy efficiency alone to be the central components of our electrical grid modernization needs. The current model clean power planning tool for states has 25 key elements, which for the most part gets us away from nuclear as well as coal and cuts down on natural gas use. Why limit the pace of reliable, cost effective gird modernization.

    City hall is relying far too much on the Sierra Club / MountainTrue perspective.


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