Letter writer: Sierra Club should not interfere in local politics

Graphic by Lori Deaton

I’m not renewing [my membership] this year [in the Sierra Club].

The reason is simple: Instead of remaining focused on environmental issues, the North Carolina Sierra Club PAC took the misguided step of meddling in our local Asheville City Council election.

Keep the Sierra Club working on the big issues, not interfering in local politics.

— John Gordon

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11 thoughts on “Letter writer: Sierra Club should not interfere in local politics

  1. NFB

    If by “meddling” in an Asheville City Council election you mean they made endorsements than this is nothing new. The Sierra Club has been endorsing candidates in these elections for years.

    What is odder about this letter is the last paragraph which states that the Sierra Club should be “working on the big issues, not interfering in local politics.” Since so many of these “big issues” require political involvement such “meddling” is necessary.

    • bsummers

      I think that what enraged a lot of people, and I know this writer is not alone, is that the slate they endorsed supported selling for commercial development a plot of land that a whole lot of their own supporters want preserved for a park. Sort of antithetical to the whole green conservation mission of the Sierra Club, one would think.

          • NFB


            In any case this is all getting away from the overall point. The Sierra Club has made endorsement in City Council elections for years so it seems that the letter writer considered those endorsements “meddling” simply because he did not agree with them. Would we have seen this same complaint from him had they endorsed Keith Young, Brian Haynes, and Rich Lee? I suspect not.

          • bsummers

            I can’t speak for the author, but my take on it is that once the field was narrowed to 6 Democrats, all of whom were likely to support environmental issues, it would have been better for Sierra Club to back off. Instead they (or at least, the local branch led by Mayfield ally Ken Brame) ramped it up significantly. In fact, they only endorsed Hunt and Mayfield in the primary. But after the primary, they added Simerly and ramped up the campaigning for that slate:


            That’s what I consider ‘meddling’. Picking a slate out of a completely Democratic candidate pool, and pouring thousands of dollars into campaigning for them, when it really wasn’t about getting good environmentalists elected – it was about the St. Lawrence park issue:

            “Brame, meanwhile, has said the local group spent the most money it ever had on a City Council election because people it had identified as good environmentalists were “being attacked” over their positions concerning the viability of the St. Lawrence Green and “accused of not being good environmentalists.””

            I think they seriously crossed the line from advocating for environmental issues, into meddling with local intramural politics. And everyone knows it, and they’ll lose a lot of support as a result.

          • NFB

            They endorsed Hunt and Mayfield in the primary and suggested the third vote go to either Corey Atkins or Lindsay Simmerly. Once Atkins lost the primary they gave the third endorsement to Simmerly which seems pretty consistent.

          • bsummers

            Whichever. Doesn’t address my main point – their record campaign spending and advocacy for these three candidates wasn’t about environmental issues, it was about picking sides between the two main factions of Democrats in this town. The Sierra Club shouldn’t be such a divisive force in local politics.

          • NFB

            Well, I guess we’ll just agree to disagree on this one. I just don’t think making endorsements constitutes “meddling” in a campaign, especially since the group has been making such endorsements for years. It was the St. Lawrence Green group who framed the park issue as some sort of litmus test for a candidate being a worthy environmentalist.

            For the records, if it matters, I voted for a mix of the Sierra Club supported candidates and the St. Lawrence Green supported candidates in both the primary and the general election.

  2. Solutionist

    Sierra Club is IRRELEVENT to the world. Please shut yourselves down and stop meddling in politics. You are deluded about
    climate change, etc. And I used to be a member…before I learned better.

    • J.M. Westall

      Ditto that. If you have an extra dollar or two, give it to the Nature Conservancy. They are actually saving pristine lands for posterity instead of “tilting with windmills” like the Sierras.

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