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Voters Reaffirm Environmental Values, Reject Sprawl; Sierra Club Volunteers Contribute More Than 2,000 Hours to Help Secure Wins

Seattle -- From Ron Sims’ sweeping victory in King County to Steve Stuart's win in Clark County, with the defeat of I-912 statewide and with victories in scores of other races, Washington voters once again clearly stated that the environment matters when it's time to vote.

Environmental issues in general, and sprawl in particular, were central to the hotly contested race for King County Executive.

"Irons, who was backed by sprawl developers, repeatedly brought up his opposition to the new critical areas ordinances,” said Becky Stanley, Cascade Chapter Conservation Chair. “But King County voters rejected Irons and his anti-environmental positions," Stanley said.

"Then, late in the campaign, Irons tried to improve his environmental image with radio and tv ads, hoping to portray himself as ‘green,’ but voters saw right through his hollow green-washing efforts,” added Stanley.

The Sierra Club not only endorsed Ron Sims, we spent approximately $70,000 on major, independent expenditure and get-out-the-vote campaigns, and leveraged those funds with scores of volunteers.

Among our activities in the Sims race:

  • Mailed 65,000 pieces to targeted swing voters, distributing background information on the candidates' positions on major environmental issues;
  • Made over 25,000 phone calls to targeted swing voters, including over 3300 GOTV calls on election day alone;
  • Held rallies in strategic locations; and
  • Scores of volunteers door-belled key precincts, often during heavy rains.

In Clark County, sprawl developers and their allies spent more than $60,000 to unseat Steve Stuart, but their efforts failed. Stuart, the Sierra Club endorsed candidate, is a leading voice on the Council for smart growth, and Sierra Club volunteers played a key role in his race.

“By defeating Tom Mielke, and his pro-sprawl agenda, Clark County voters have clearly stated that they prefer smart growth to sprawl,” said Dale McLain, Chair of the local Sierra Club group.

In addition to financially supporting Stuart’s campaign, Sierra Club volunteers phone-banked voters, knocked on doors, and held numerous outreach events.

The environmental community continues to be on the winning side of major transportation ballot measures. The Sierra Club was one of the first environmental organizations to oppose I-912, and this was the first time in recent years that the environmental community supported a statewide gas tax.

“We opposed I-912 because the state is moving in the right direction on transportation and this gas tax increase goes mainly towards taking care of roads and highways we already have,” said Tim Gould, Chair of the Cascade Chapter Transportation Committee.

“It’s not about building more sprawl highways like we’ve seen in other statewide packages—which we successfully opposed,” Gould said. “The Sierra Club was proud to work with leading labor, business, environmental and civic organizations to defeat I-912, and we look forward to the continued trend towards balanced transportation solutions,” he added.

The new gas tax also includes funding for a series of bridges and tunnels on I-90 at Snoqualmie Pass that will not only make the Pass safer for drivers, it will also provide important wildlife corridors between the North and South Cascades.

Sierra Club efforts to defeat I-912 included listing our opposition to I-912 in all our slate card mailings to targeted voters, phone-banking, as well as featuring it in our magazine that all 26,000 members receive, and on our website.

In addition to these high profile races, Sierra Club endorsed candidates are winning nearly every race in Whatcom, Snohomish, Pierce and Clark Counties.

In western Washington, we amplified the value of our electoral funds by engaging hundreds of volunteers. The volunteers interviewed and vetted candidates, developed and maintained our elections website, phone-banked voters, knocked on doors in key precincts, and held rallies. All told, Sierra Club volunteers donated more than 2,000 hours.

Scott Otterson, co-chair of the Cascade Chapter Political Committee, was delighted with the results. “I’m thrilled to see so many people contribute so much of their valuable time to help protect our environment,” Otterson said. “And what could be more satisfying than to see the volunteers’ work validated by voters delivering environmental wins in race after race?”

For more information and the entire list of endorsements, please go to: http://cascade.sierraclub.org/endorsements/