A fond farewell to the 'uniter'

    Leading up to our last local election, I had several opportunities to sit down with candidate Joan Beardsley, and I was always impressed with her. We might not have seen eye to eye on everything, but we were in agreement on a sizeable number of issues concerning the future of Bellingham.
   Just before the election, Joan told me that she wanted to create a “kitchen cabinet” once she was elected, a group of Bellingham leaders who would meet with her periodically and give her some thoughts from a variety of perspectives on the key issues being addressed by the Council. She asked if I would be interested in serving on this group, and I was pleased to accept.
   Sadly, Councilwoman Joan Beardsley was never able to convene this group, as her surgery shortly after her election limited her ability to get around, and her subsequent illness first took her away from the community, and then from us all in the fullest sense.
   But even at that, she still tried to ensure all Bellinghamsters had a seat at the table as direction on many issues was being discussed. When the potential for a big box ban was first raised at Council, Joan called me to have coffee and discuss the matter, then set up a meeting with staff and other members of the Council, as well as proponents and myself. She tried to find a way to reach consensus on this issue, an issue that proved far more divisive because of her absence.
   I mourn Joan Beardsley for many reasons, but mostly because the first true attempt to unite this community in quite some time has ended. She believed not in political expediency, not in populism, but in consensus-driven leadership that brought everyone to the table and discounted no opinions or perspectives without a hearing.
   As we fill her vacant seat, and move toward the coming elections, I hope candidates will look at the example Joan set, and do their best to bring a more unifying voice to the City Council. Let’s make sure we don’t discriminate against anyone in Bellingham for any reason, but especially not for differences of opinion.


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