Sierra Club Questionnaire


2022 Candidate Questionnaire

North Carolina Sierra Club, Capital Group, invites you to submit answers to the following questionnaire.  For all these questions, there are actions that can be taken at the local level.  As you describe what you would do in terms of policy and / or actions, please give local examples.  Pursuant to national Sierra Club policies governing political candidate evaluations, candidate responses to questionnaires are considered confidential. Candidate responses will be reviewed by the Political Committees of the local group and State Chapter, but will not be released to the general Sierra Club membership or to the media.

General Information:

  • Name: Shaun Pollenz
  • Email Address:
  • Candidate for: Wake County Commissioner District 1
  • Campaign Website:
  • Campaign Manager/Contact: Molly McDermott
  • Endorsed by Sierra Club previously? No
  • Are you the incumbent? No (Incumbent is not running for reelection)

What are your strategies, plans and tactics for securing this position?

  1. What support and affiliations have you gained / expect to get?
  • I have a broad base of support built during and since my 2018 campaign for Board of Education. I have a lot of volunteers ready to help work the polls, put out signs this week, and hand write post cards.
  1. What financial support have you secured or will secure?
  • My campaign has enough funds on hand to run our campaign successfully, though I know exactly how to use anything extra I raise until the end of the campaign.
  1. Have you received any endorsements? From whom?
  • I have received some support from local elected officials and will be happy to announce that later. No organizations for which I am seeking an endorsement have announced their endorsements yet.

What three goals do you have while filling this position?

  • 1) Support our public school system by fully funding their budgetary requests and providing overdue investments in capital needs.
  • 2) Keep Wake County a diverse, inclusive community by expanding access to affordable housing and helping first time buyers enter the market.
  • 3) Continue the legacy of the current D1 Commissioner Sig Hutchinson by promoting conservation, smart growth, access to parks/greenspace, and a robust public transportation system.

In your opinion, what are three top environmental issues facing your jurisdiction? What plans do you have for addressing these concerns while in office?

  • 1 & 2) Smart growth and transportation are two big issues.  We can continue working with municipalities to plan for smart, long-term growth. We all already have individual municipal plans, as well as a countywide joint plan, but it still results in a car-dependent community with limited access to public transportation on a regional level. Having lived in DC and Southern California, I understand the need for transportation options.  DC had a decent system and I lived there 5 years without a car.  The first thing I did when I moved to California was to buy a car.  I want to make sure we envision our best future, and that requires looking at the big picture without skipping on the details.
  • 3) Climate change generally is a huge issue, so I want to make sure the county continues to do its part being a good environmental partner. As Commissioner, I will advocate for more investments in clean energy, more land conservation, a robust public transportation system, walkable communities, and environmentally conscious development.

What does “environmentally responsible development” mean to you?

  • To me, environmentally responsible development is development that does not destroy natural resources unnecessarily and includes nature in its design.  On a macro level, this can mean land conservation to preserve our natural resources, expanding access to parks and greenways, and keeping our communities green and vibrant. On a micro level, it can mean managing the set back for development to preserve a certain amount of the tree line or investing in our waste management systems so pipes don’t burst and our water stays clean.

How will you address environmental justice concerns throughout your jurisdiction?

  • I believe in equitable access to our parks and greenways, so I want to make sure our investments reflect that priority.  I also want to encourage investments in new trees, plants, and flowers in communities where these natural amenities do not exist in sufficient quantities. This benefits not only those communities, but also our animal and insect friends and the environment generally.  Where we can build partnerships to get things like this accomplished, I want to help.

A bill introduced in the NC House would prevent county and municipal governments from enacting greater tree protections during construction and development than those already specified. Would you support HB 496 and similar efforts that would limit county authority to protect trees? Why or why not? What actions would you take in response to this proposed legislation?

  • My family moved to Wake County in 1988, so we’ve been watching trees disappear here for quite some time.  It’s always disturbing to see, but it is also part of the growth process. In order to minimize the negative affects of our particularly rapid development, it is imperative that our local governments be afforded the option to enact stricter protections than required under state law.  I am surprised to see so much support for such a measure and would certainly let the NCGA know that their lack of expertise on local matters brands them as interlopers. I would also recruit a bipartisan coalition of municipal leaders to do the same.

Sierra Club promotes local government adoption of 100% clean and renewable energy by 2050. How will you implement renewables for your county?

  • 1) Our whole fleet of vehicles should be moved to electric. No new vehicles purchased should be anything besides electric. We must build a network of charging stations in order to facilitate this shift.
  • 2) When the county builds anything new, including the 4 new schools currently in the pipeline, they should be built with solar panels. I know we got funding to install them in at least one school, and Dr. Martin told me the only barrier was funding. We can fund this for any new schools through a bond, and it’s time to start investing in the future.
  • 3) I would be an advocate for better policies related to renewable energy. I understand that solar energy is becoming or may become less affordable for a variety of reasons, and I want to make sure that these investments continue to make financial sense. This includes addressing subsidies for homeowners, rates paid for excess energy production, and any other policies that may need attention.

Do you support giving local governments more powers to create and preserve affordable housing by low income people? What tools do you think local governments need in this area? What will you do to ensure preservation of existing affordable housing for those living in lower income in your jurisdiction?

  • Yes absolutely.  More funding would probably help the most.  The County has achieved its 5-year target for new affordable housing units in only 3 years. While we are ahead of pace, we cannot continue to rely on the temporary Covid relief funding that helped us reach our first goal so quickly.  We must have access to more aggressive tools to protect our current housing stock, and more ability to control or incentivize the types of development our communities need.  As Commissioner, I will continue to encourage use of one-time Covid funding for affordable housing needs, as these funds are available for use through 2024 and we await at least one additional tranche of funds.

How will you ensure high quality of life and air and water quality protection for all county residents in an equitable manner?

  • As a city of Raleigh resident, I know we could be doing better with replacing our aging pipe system.  They seem to burst frequently, resulting in sewage entering the water system.  I believe it is appropriate to invest in clean water and air whenever possible, and Wake County seems in a good position to make those investments.
  • We can also invest in land conservation, parks, greenways, and open green spaces in communities that do not presently have these amenities available. I am spoiled where I live, but one thing we lack is a dog park closer than 20 minutes away.  I believe every community deserves access to as many amenities as the community can support, and we should find ways to spread out new investments by prioritizing areas that are underserved, while also filling in some holes, like adding more dog parks all throughout the County.
  • This all requires coordination and cooperation with the local municipalities, and I look forward to working with them all.

What ideas do you have to address climate issues and strategies for climate adaptation for your jurisdiction?

  • Well, clean energy is big, and we should invest in that to the maximum. We’ve got to preserve land, and plant new greenery where we can.   I guess for climate adaptation, we should be ready for more severe weather systems, extreme droughts, fires, tornados, hurricanes.  We may have even worse issues with our stormwater and drainage.  There will need to be lots of investment, and at an accelerated pace.  We cannot fall behind or be caught unprepared.