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Citizen’s recycling initiative?

So why did it look more like a candidates’ photo op?


ONE DAY, he’s stumping for recycling, the next John McMasters is running for mayor. Surprise, surprise!

McMasters called a press conference Aug. 23 on the steps of the Bull Street Library to tell us he’d filed a Home Rule petition asking the city to collect enough signatures to put curbside recycling up for a citywide vote.

Curbside recycling not only is needed, it’s way overdue. The City of Savannah should have started a curbside recycling program decades ago.

So what’s wrong with this picture? Candidates are climbing onto the recycling bandwagon as if it’s the latest fashion, wrapping it around themselves in an effort to gain approval from the many residents who’ve been begging for curbside recycling for years.

Various candidates for mayor and city council lined up behind McMasters so they’d appear on camera, and some even spoke. But did they really mean what they said? What’s troubling is that they stood alongside real, genuine activists for the environment who unfortunately got caught up in all the political posturing.

At the time of the press conference, McMasters hadn’t declared his candidacy. However, the minute he told us, “I have been to the state capital at my own expense and time to work with legal counsel to perfect my understanding of Constitutional rights,” the cat was out of the bag.

McMasters needs 11,000 signatures on his petition to make it fly. It can be found online at, and if it really gets the job done, it’s worth signing. But should we elect McMasters or any other candidate just because they support curbside recycling?

After a few throw-away remarks about recycling, James DeLorme, candidate for alderman-at-large and a perpetual thorn in Mayor Johnson’s side, used the press conference as yet another opportunity to take pot shots at the mayor as well as at his opponent, Alderwoman Edna Jackson.

District 4 alderman candidate Clint Murphy at least addressed the recycling issue, but not with any passion or zeal.

Thank heavens for Stacey Kronquest, David Kyler and Paul Wolff, who also spoke that day. Kronquest, a member of the Sierra Club Coastal Group, is a true activist. Two and a half years ago, she wrote and posted an online petition ( asking that the city start a curbside recycling program. That petition already has struck a chord -- Kronquest has collected 3,500 signatures without any fanfare or press conferences.

“There are 9,000 curbside recycling programs in this country,” she said. “Jefferson Parish, one of the most hardest-hit neighborhoods outside of New Orleans, recently voted to re-establish its curbside recycling program. If Jefferson Parish can do this, there’s no reason Savannah can’t do this.”

Kyler, executive director of the Center for a Sustainable Coast, asked that we all take more responsibility to ensure that future generations have a world that is “every bit as livable” as the one we occupy.

Wolff, Tybee City Councilman and an environmental activist, noted that every year Georgians dispose of 2.3 million tons of recyclables, worth $250 million, at a cost of $93 million. “It costs $342 million to literally throw it away,” he said.

The city of Tybee Island is the only municipality in Chatham County that has curbside recycling. “I sincerely hope that Savannah joins Tybee Island and leaves the world a better place,” Wolff said.

By the way, McMasters brought his pastor along to open and close the press conference with prayer. If this year’s election stunts get any stranger, we’re all going to need divine intervention.

Linda Sickler is news editor of Connect Savannah. E-mail her at

The recycling press conference last week