Whatcom County Executive
1. Do you believe the business community should have an equal seat at the table with other interest groups (communities, environmental groups, etc) in discussing the future growth of Whatcom County? Please explain.
Definitely. The business community is an integral and important segment of our overall greater community. It is essential that it be included with other segments and interest groups as we address the many issues facing our community, including growth, the environment, economic sustainability and our overall quality of life.
2. Are you supportive of the current Port/City of Bellingham vision for redeveloping the New Whatcom Site, and should the County participate in those plans? Why or why not?
I am generally supportive of the New Whatcom redevelopment. It is my belief that the project has the potential to be the crowning jewel of not only downtown Bellingham, but for all of Whatcom County. It can play a key role in generating additional housing that would assist in alleviating urban sprawl and the protection of our coveted farmland. I do believe it would be productive and beneficial for the County to be included in further development discussions in view of the fact that the County is investing EDI funds in the project.
3. When it comes to land use planning, should the County work more closely with the other municipalities in Whatcom County to ensure a more cohesive plan?
Absolutely. The County and cities are always best served by working collaboratively. I have consistently strived to approach land use issues in a cooperative manner and will continue to do so. This is essential so that we can accommodate growth and achieve our collective desired vision for this community.
4. Do you support efforts to protect land currently designated for medium and heavy industrial purposes in the County for that purpose? Please explain.
There is a limited amount of land currently zoned medium and heavy industrial. It’s prudent that we protect the industrial zoned land we have as it would be extremely difficult to replace. In instances where it might make sense to rezone to another land use designation, we need to mitigate by creating a corresponding amount of industrial land elsewhere.
5. Do you support efforts to find additional forms of identification to ensure Washingtonians and the citizens of British Columbia can easily cross our shared border? Why or why not?
Yes! I believe the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s efforts to create alternative forms of ID have proven them to be a leader locally and nationally on this issue. Although it’s essential our border is secure, it is critically important to our economy that we not create an impediment to the free flow of commerce, goods and people through our border.
6. What, in your opinion, is the primary cause of the decrease in the actual number of Whatcom County residents between the ages of 30 to 39 (primary working age) since 1996?
I believe the decline in this particular demographic is attributable largely to the lack of some desirable job opportunities, lower than average compensation and the higher than average cost of living here, especially housing costs relative to wages.
7. Are you supportive of efforts to promote infill development in existing municipal areas? If so, how would you propose to do this?
Yes. We need to funnel growth into our cities that already have services in order to help reduce additional infrastructure costs. Minimizing urban sprawl will allow us to help protect our agricultural land and industry and maintain our rural character that is so cherished by our residents. We need to step up efforts to work with our municipalities and neighborhoods as we plan for the future.
8. What do you believe is the primary pollution issue for Lake Whatcom, and what do you propose to do in partnership with the City of Bellingham to address it?
I believe the largest contributor to pollution in the Lake is urbanization. I will continue to work with the City to restrict development, implement adequate stormwater infrastructure and encourage residents already living within the watershed to more aggressively change their lifestyle by eliminating fertilization, refrain from washing cars, and curtail other activities that are detrimental to the Lake Whatcom reservoir. This multi-faceted effort, including significant watershed land acquisitions, should be accelerated in partnership with the City. The County and City should be unified in our efforts to obtain state and federal funding to accomplish these objectives.
9. Should all businesses in Whatcom County be treated equally by the County, regardless of whether they are locally owned or not? Please explain.
Personally, I try to, and encourage, support for our local merchants and retail outlets whenever possible, however, I also believe in the free enterprise system. Rules and regulations should be equal for all businesses within our community regardless of their local status.
10. If elected, what do you propose to do to interact on a regular basis with the Whatcom County business community?
I’ve been fortunate to have served the citizens of Whatcom County in this position for the last 12 years. One of the cornerstones of my public service has been to be accessible and responsive, including to our business community. I am proud to have been awarded the Chamber’s “Most Valuable Player” award earlier this year for supporting local business. Although my calendar during the day is generally committed to handling the day to day business of Whatcom County and meeting with citizens and business representatives on specific issues, my evening and weekend calendar has been, and will continue to be, filled with events where I have the opportunity to interact with community members on a more informal basis.