What Are Chapter Elections?

  • Posted on 30 August 2020
  • By Everette Phillips, Communications Chair
Our Sierra Club Chapter is shy 50,000 members located in LA and Orange Counties. We have between 3 and 5 paid staff members at any given time, so most of the work and decision making is made by volunteers. Members like you who care enough about an activity like a hike or environmental issue like clean air & water to volunteers a couple of hours each week.  When groups of volunteers work together, some must assume leadership roles. Some of those roles require recognition through elections.
The Sierra Club has entities like committees, Task Forces, and Sections that exist by the approval of an Executive Committee. Sierra Club members are assigned to two geographic-based organizations within the club based on geography.  Members living in LA County or Orange County are assigned to the Angeles Chapter. All members in good standing should make an effort to vote for volunteers interested in a position on the Chapter Executive Committee.
Within the Angeles Chapter, we have about 15 groups with specific geographies. Each group has its own Executive Committee and members within that geography will get ballots of volunteers interested in leadership positions for their group.  You can find your group on our Chapter Website.         
Why should I bother voting? — I do not know any of them
Apathy is an enemy of democracy, and it starts with any community that you belong to. It does not take much time to read a statement made by a volunteer on the ballot and usually, you can appreciate quickly whether someone has views similar or different than you. You may not “know the candidate” but you can usually get a feeling of whether you want to have lunch with them based on their profile. This is a good place to start.
When few members participate in our community elections, the validity of the Executive Committee is diminished. It weakens our organization and impacts our ability to meet the local mission of the Sierra Club related our tenants to EXPLORE, ENJOY, and PROTECT.
What gets decided in the election?
Those elected have three focus areas that impact you directly.
  • The elected volunteers represent your opinion while they hold office – they move the needle between which is more important – local opinion or national opinion. There is always the conflict between “local values” on the Group Level, “local values” on the Chapter level, and “national values” at the national level. They help make the tough decisions of where to focus energy among many important but competing needs for resources – when a choice has to be made between rebuilding a trail, offering an outing for youth, resources for environmental justice or software for fundraising – your elected volunteer leaders make those difficult choices on your behalf.
  • The elected volunteers choose local priorities on your behalf.  We have limited funds and limited resources. Local elected leaders play a role in choosing priorities for the allocation of these resources.
  • The elected volunteers lobby other entities such as local governments for resources or recognition of the importance of issues.

Click to learn more about voting!

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