Sierra Club Endorsements Announced

Upon recommendation of the Orange-Chatham Group's Political and Executive Committees, the North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed the following candidates for elected office here in Orange County. The Sierra Club supports candidates with demonstrated knowledge of local environmental issues who will provide strong leadership on matters including growth and conservation.

Orange County Commissioner:

  • At-Large: Bernadette Pelissier
  • District 1: Valerie Foushee & Pam Hemminger

General Assembly:

  • NC Senate 23: Ellie Kinnaird
  • NC House 54: Joe Hackney
  • NC House 56: Verla Insko

We are very pleased to announce today that the Sierra Club officially endorses Representative Verla Insko, Representative Joe Hackney, and Senator Ellie Kinnaird in their bids for reelection. We are confident that they will continue work to protect North Carolina’s environment, for our families and for our future. Though neither Insko nor Hackney are opposed for reelection, we wish to strongly support the work that they have done over the past several years, and look forward to their continued service. Senator Kinnaird, who faces both a primary and general election challenger, has one of the best environmental voting records in the entire state legislature and has initiated several important piece of environmental legislation.

In the Orange County Commissioners at-large district, the Sierra Club strongly endorses Bernadette Pelissier. Bernadette has been an outstanding environmental leader in Orange County. She has proven herself knowledgeable and a creative problem solver in her many roles in our community including her service on the Planning Board, the Commission for the Environment, the OWASA Board of Directors, the Special Transit Advisory Commission, and in her decades of work for the Sierra Club. Her broad experience will allow her to be a strong voice for regional transit, farm and open space preservation, responsible economic development, and planning for an intelligent response to growth pressures.

In District 1, though they do not face primary or general election opposition, the Sierra Club is pleased to endorse Valerie Foushee and Pam Hemminger. Incumbent Valerie Foushee has demonstrated a strong understanding of the many issues surrounding growth and has been an advocate for the creation of new parks and preservation through conservation easements. We feel that she has had a very strong voting record over the past four years. Pam Hemminger, current chair of the Chapel Hill Carrboro Board of Education, has a long record of service on environmental issues through her work on numerous boards and commissions. When elected, she will be an advocate for improved public transit, a better infrastructure for alternative transportation, energy conservation, improved stream buffers, and a promoter of smart growth initiatives

The Sierra Club chose not to endorse any candidates running in District 2. While we find none of the candidates’ positions on environmental issues strong enough to warrant an endorsement, we do support Leo Allison’s positions on transit, open space and farmland preservation, and the creation of more parks.



I'd say this is fairly predictable. I don't think Neloa Jones made any effort to gain this endorsement, but it would have been nice of the Sierra Club at least verbally recognize the ongoing environmental justice problems in Orange County.

I should note that Neloa did respond to my efforts to contact her, but she was unable to attend our forum nor any of the multiple dates provided for an interview. We are prohibited from considering candidates who don't participate in at least an interview, partially because of the stringent requirements for multiple sources of information set forth by the state chapter, and partially out of fairness to the candidates who do make time in their busy schedules to attend. I hope Neloa stays active and involved and the Sierra Club looks forward to working with her in the future, win or lose.

We do recognize the importance of the environmental justice issues in the county, and I (speaking personally) wish our organization had taken a stand on landfill issues a long time ago. I can't speak for prior committees because I only became political chair a few months ago, but we did make a concerted effort this Spring to include considerations of the Rogers Road community in every step of the process, including our public forum. Asking a question about this at the forum was particularly important to me, because it not only allowed us to weigh this in our deliberations but also let public know where candidates stand.

I think it's quite telling that the Sierra Club came to the same conclusion I came to regarding the District 2 candidates. As near as I can tell, all are running on pro-growth, pro-development platforms with scant mention of environmentalism or sustainability. It's completely understandable that District 2 would field some candidates that want to streamline the growth and development process, given how long that process has been stymied and hampered by the county. But, what's not so understandable is why anybody would want to throw the doors wide open and emulate Northern Chatham or Wake counties. I really hope that as the path towards unstoppable growth becomes clearer, that sustainability is considered not just as a campaign buzz word, but as a philisophical mantra that is completely and wholly embraced by everyone.

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