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GUEST OPINION: Sierra Club’s Big Green Endorsements for 2019 Election

BY New Jersey Sierra Club

One week from today, New Jersey will have an important general election. The Sierra Club has announced its endorsements for the 2019 election Season. The club has endorsed many New Jersey State Legislature candidates running in the November 5, 2019 election.

“We are proud to endorse these candidates for election and re-election because they will stand up for the environment in New Jersey. We are confident these candidates will represent the needs of their district when it comes to clean air, clean water, and protecting open space. These candidates will help move forward on passing important legislation on climate change and achieving Governor Murphy’s renewable energy goals. We are in a climate crisis and it is more important than ever to have legislators in New Jersey fighting to protect our environment,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club. “The incumbents we endorsed have proven their strong commitment to the environment and deserve to be re-elected. The challengers we’ve picked we believed will do their job to protect the environment, unlike many of the incumbents that they’re running against.”

The New Jersey Sierra Club’s endorsement process involves mailing questionnaires to candidates of both major parties, an interview process, and voting by two different deliberative bodies within the Club to determine which candidates best meet their environmental standards. In particular, the Club looked at support for multiple issues this year including:


  • Impacts of the climate crisis
  • A plastic bag ban
  • Water quality
  • Lead poisoning
  • Protecting our state parks and forests
  • Supporting renewable energy and clean transportation over pipelines


“The complicated endorsement process is done by Sierra Club members themselves on the ground and includes questionnaires and interviews. Our endorsements are so coveted because they’re done by the people being represented and because we’re the nation’s oldest and largest environmental group. We have over 22,000 members and 70,000 supporters in New Jersey and we have endorsed candidates that we think will best represent us and the environment,” said Tittel.

The New Jersey Sierra Club placed more of an emphasis in their questionnaires on environmental justice communities which have poorer air, water, and ground quality than other parts of the state, yet a disproportionate number of new facilities with questionable environmental impacts continue to be built in these communities.  The Club is looking for support of legislation that requires considering cumulative impacts on environmental justice communities when evaluating new facilities or major modifications to existing ones.

 “These endorsed candidates either have exhibited a strong voting record supporting environmental issues or demonstrated a commitment to the environment in interviews with Club volunteers.  Among the many issues we asked these candidates include their thoughts on banning single-use plastics, a moratorium on new pipelines, and finding a solution to lead and other contaminants in our drinking water.   We are proud to endorse these outstanding environmental advocates” said John Kashwick, Political Committee Chair for the New Jersey Chapter.     

Sierra Club members and voters are encouraged to take particular notice of the races in Districts 16, 21 22, and 25th, and 26th, which are most likely to be close. Sierra Club has endorsed Stacy Gunderman (D) who will be running against incumbent Assemblyman Bramnick for the 21st district.  Sierra Club endorsed Assemblyman James Kennedy will be facing Patricia Quattrocchi in the 22nd district.  Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani who we endorsed will be facing a close race in Senator Bucco’s district, district 25.

“The legislators in district 25 have been playing games and musical chairs with legislative seats and have a dismal record for the environment. We are going to fight for this district and make sure we have candidates like Darcy Draeger and Lisa Bhimani who will help clean up Lake Hopatcong, protect the Highlands Act that Bucco opposes, and reduce climate impacts,” said Tittel. “The 21st district also needs a change in environmental leadership, they are in lockstep with Christie’s rollbacks. We need people to fight for the environmental and work to get things done. We are confident that Stacy Gunderman Lisa Mandelblatt are perfect candidate for the job. They will stand up for our clean air, clean water, and work to reduce our climate impacts.”

Assembly Zwicker and Assemblyman Freiman accepted the chapter’s endorsement, they will be running as incumbents for the 16th district. The Sierra Club has also endorsed Christine Clark and Laura Fortgang who face incumbents Assemblyman Webber and Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce in the 26th district.

“Assemblyman Zwicker and Assemblyman Frieman are environmental champions and have an excellent environmental voting record.  We endorsed both of these candidates because they are environmental leaders who we need to reelect and we stand with our endorsements and they accepted our endorsement,” said Tittel. “District 26 has become more diverse, more environmentally concerned but the district incumbents do not represent the people, they don’t care about clean water or protecting the Highlands. We endorsed Christine Clarke and Laura Fortgang because we know they will protect the district’s clean drinking water from the Highlands. We believe these candidates will also protect the people and the environment on a local and state level.”

The NJ Sierra Club proudly endorsed candidates who have a history of fighting against dirty energy and advocating for renewable energy and energy efficiency instead. Assemblyman Daniel Benson is a prime sponsor of A4224, which establishes renewable energy portfolio standards. Assemblywoman Nancy Pinkin has sponsored recycling legislation such as A4011.

 “We believe these candidates will help bring New Jersey back where it was as a national leader in environmental protection. Under the current Administration, the DEP has not moved forward on strengthening important rules that protect our clean water, our air, and protect us from the impacts of climate change.  These candidates will help reduce our climate impacts and help New Jersey to adapt to climate change,” said Tittel. “The Sierra Club is endorsing legislators who we believe have been fighting for the people of New Jersey. Many of them are champions of the environment and we are proud to endorse them for the work they have done and the work that they will do in the future. We support these new candidates who have shown their commitment to the environment by fighting for it at a local level. We hope to see them elected so they can continue to fight for it in the legislature as well.”

Our endorsed candidates have been leaders on many different environmental issues. Assemblyman John McKeon has been instrumental in securing critical environmental protections and policies for the state including the Highlands Act and measures to clean up Barnegat Bay. Assemblyman Mukerji has been a champion for sponsoring critical legislation to protect our sharks from shark finning. Assemblyman Herb Conaway has been integral in fighting against contaminants in the water, specifically 1,2,3-trichloropropane, by writing a bill that would set a limit for how much of this dangerous substance is allowed in New Jersey’s drinking water. Assemblyman Jamel Holley has been an advocate for environmental justice and supports legislation to protect open space in urban areas.  Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle has been incremental in helping to make our Jersey shore and its beaches are smoke free.

"Please show your support and your commitment to protecting New Jersey’s environment and natural treasures by voting for the candidate(s) Sierra Club has endorsed in your state legislative district," said Richard Isaac, Sierra Club NJ Chapter Chair.

The New York Times called the Sierra Club the big green endorsements. The Sierra Club is the nation’s oldest, largest, and most respected grassroots environmental organization in the nation with over 3,000,000 members nationwide and 22,000 members in New Jersey.

“Part of our endorsement process is to hold legislators accountable and make sure they keep their commitment they made for protecting our environment. That will help move forward critical legislation on environmental justice, lead mitigation, plastic ban, funding for urban parks during lame duck,” The Sierra Club endorsement is the environmental equivalent to the Good Housing Keeping Seal of Approval,” said Jeff Tittel, Director of the New Jersey Sierra Club.  “These candidates not only have strong environmental records but have the commitment and dedication and have done the work to make New Jersey a better place.  We also believe there are some very good challengers out there that will help move New Jersey forward by bringing in new ideas to make our state a better place environmentally. We are proud to endorse these candidates for the November 5th election and look forward to working with them in the new year.”



Incumbents are marked by an asterisk (*).

Assembly District

Endorsed Candidate


Vince Mazzeo (D) *


Herb Conoway (D) *


Joanne Downey (D) *


Eric Houghtaling (D) *


Robert Clifton (R) *


Daniel Benson (D) *


Verlina Reynolds-Jackson (D) *


Anthony Verrelli (D) *


Roy Freiman (D) *


Andrew Zwicker (D) *


Joe Danielsen (D) *


Robert Karabinchak (D) *


Nancy Pinkin (D) *


Craig Coughlin (D) *


Jamel Holley (D) *


Lisa Mandelblatt (D)


Stacey Gunderman (D)


James Kennedy (D) *


Marisa Trofimov (D)


Denise King (D)


Lisa Bhimani (D)


Darcy Draeger (D)


Christine Clarke (D)


Laura Fortgang (D)


John McKeon (D) *


Mila Jasey (D) *


Ralph Caputo (D) *


Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D) *


Angela McKnight (D) *


Annette Chaparro (D) *


Raj Mukherji (D) *


Thomas Giblin (D) *


Britnee Timberlake (D) *


Benjie Wimberly (D) *


Gary Schaer (D) *


Clinton Calabrese (D) *


Valerie Vainieri-Huttle (D) *


A full list of endorsements can be found here: