I’m writing a long overdue thank you to John Liebert. For as long as I can remember, John has organized the Youth in Government day where Blaine High School students spend a day shadowing Blaine city employees and learning firsthand about what it takes to run a city; from supplying water, to providing sewer services, to zoning permits, to meeting power needs, to enforcing laws and protecting citizens – the students learn from the professionals about their career interests. The students finish their day with the council members by their sides, running a real city council meeting.
It is both eye opening and exciting for the students. From the beginning of his idea through all the years that he has organized and made it all work, not a single student has regretted being a part of the program. Yes, it is scary for a student to act as mayor or present before a room of adults about an upcoming project, but every one of the students has walked away from the experience appreciative and more knowledgeable.
Thank you, John, for your hard work with Blaine High School students and for your vision and dedication toward building such a great program. You are appreciated. I hope the program continues.
Neil K. Nix, AP American Government and Politics teacher
I am running for a seat on Blaine City Council at-large position seven. I have lived most of my life in Blaine. I attended Blaine schools for 11 years and taught government and economics for 13 years at Blaine High School. I was instrumental in initiating the Youth in Government program in an effort to make our young people interested and involved in city government. As president of Hands Across the Border, a program involving boy/girl scouts and Girl Guides of Canada, I worked for several years promoting peace between our two countries. I love my town and its history, and would like to make a difference in its future.
As city council members we are to be leaders of our community and to be responsive to their ideas, concerns and especially to the financial ramifications of any decisions. We are not just to maintain the status quo, but need to plan and look forward with optimism and develop new ideas within the frameworks of reasonable financial concerns.
When we have people willing to establish new businesses and other proposals within the city, we must do everything in our power to help see the ideas come to fruition. Small businesses are the key ingredient and we need to break down barriers that may prevent businesses from locating here.
We need to re-establish our downtown core by finding ways to fund our boardwalk and connect the plazas between H and G streets. We need to look at ways to get people off I-5 and stop in Blaine. Signs, meaningful stores, restaurants and shopping opportunities need to be highlighted in order to restore the downtown vitality. I am seeking office because I want to be a part of the solution. Blaine is a beautiful city with a welcoming spirit and is on the cusp of some exciting possibilities.
I urge you to vote for me on November 5, I have served faithfully for 12 years on city council and look forward to serving you again.
What an opportunity we have! This community we all call home has so much to offer to such a wide variety of people. We have a strong base of families who choose to live here because it’s a great place to raise children. We have a dynamic group of people who choose to retire here because of the active lifestyle opportunities that abound. This place is also attractive for those who appreciate all the things our natural setting has to offer.
We now have a chance to make this place even better by supporting the Northwest Park and Recreation levy on the upcoming ballot! Northwest Park and Recreation District 2 is an organization that does much to enhance our community. The Bay Horizon activity center and playground are major accomplishments, offering programs like Zumba, basketball, pickleball, ballroom dancing, and much more. The parks district has worked alongside the city of Blaine to enhance Hughes Bayview Park, birding shelters at Marine Park and the kayak launch at Dakota Creek. The list goes on: support for the Drayton Harbor Maritime Sailing School, Boys & Girls Club youth golf program, Blaine Youth Baseball, the Blaine Primary School drama program, Blaine Senior Center exercise equipment, and yes, even our dogs’ lives have been enriched through support of the dog park.
For a very reasonable cost of $1.66 per month for the average homeowner, we can continue to support these activities, as well as provide funds for future projects like sports fields and walking and bicycle trails. If you live in Blaine or Birch Bay, chances are that you or someone you know has benefited from this organization. We urge you to vote to continue community improvements; vote yes in support of Northwest Park and Recreation on the upcoming ballot.
Dan and Sue Steelquist
The lines at the Burger King drive-thru in Blaine are too long. Lazy kids. Kids today just don’t work as hard as we did in my day. They’re soft, I tell ya! Soft! Weak! Lazy! I blame their parents. But I could get them in line. I can’t bust heads like I used to, but I have my ways. One trick is to tell stories that don’t go anywhere.
Like the time I caught the ferry to Lummi Island. I needed a new heel for m’shoe. So I decided to go to Lummi Island. So I tied an onion to my belt. Which was the style at the time. Now, to take the ferry cost a nickel, and in those days, nickels had pictures of bumblebees on ’em. Gimme five bees for a quarter, you’d say. Now where was I ... oh yeah. The important thing was that I had an onion tied to my belt, which was the style at the time. You couldn’t get white onions, because of the war. The only thing you could get was those big yellow ones... Lazy, weak, soft kids! Thank you.
I was excited to learn that John Liebert was running for city council again. John is a dedicated community servant who thinks and acts in Blaine’s best interests. In the two decades that I have known John it has been easy to notice the qualities he would bring to the Blaine City Council.
He is ethical, hard working, caring, a critical thinker, a volunteer, a listener and above all, a person whose heart and kindness is unrivaled. John’s abilities to work through issues and build consensus will benefit the city of Blaine tremendously.
As you know there are various personality types in our society. There are people who work to benefit themselves, and then there are people who often do what’s best for “the team” but lose sight of their vision; and finally there are people who do what they believe is right. John Liebert believes in Blaine and will work exceedingly hard to do what is right for our community.
The past four years the city of Blaine has been economically sound despite the loss of our biggest business, the Semiahmoo hotel. We have a functional council led by mayor Harry Robinson, who quietly leads a council that ably does its business without fanfare or theatrics. When it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Keep Harry and Charlie hitched to the plow.
Sometime in June 1962, I boarded a rickety wood seine boat bound for Alaska. The next season we swam away from that boat after it rolled over. Not to be discouraged, I’ve been a commercial fisherman ever since, working out of harbors in Blaine and Bellingham. Back in the ’60s, an average seine season enabled a young person to pay room, board and tuition for a year or more of college. That is still true today.
It’s not just commercial fishing that makes Whatcom County’s waterfront a huge contributor to our economy. Seafood processing, charter companies, marine trades, shipyards and recreational boating together inject millions of dollars into the economic bloodstream of the entire county. Commercial fishermen know this, and we also know it can trickle away, as we’ve watched real estate development overwhelm the working waterfronts of many Puget Sound ports. So we formed the Whatcom County Commercial Fishermen’s Association to protect and enhance working waterfronts in Blaine and Bellingham.
Last June we interviewed the four candidates for two port commissioner seats. We unanimously decided to support Mike McAuley and Renata Kowalczyk. Mike is an incumbent, with a record of hard work, transparency and accountability. He is freely accessible to everyone, has held the line on taxes and has repeatedly spoken up to protect our working waterfronts at commission meetings. His was the one vote against the unfortunate firing of Charley Sheldon, the port’s executive director who favored working waterfront preservation.
Renata has an MBA and experience in large financial institutions, making her potentially a key player in the port’s role in economic development.
Mike and Renata do not merely talk about the waterfront; they go there and talk to people who work there. Unlike their opponents who are supported by developers, their campaign contributions come from working people – smaller amounts from many. Mike and Renata prioritize jobs, both right now and years later, from working waterfronts that will still exist because of their efforts.
All Whatcom County citizens should care about the future of our working waterfronts. Please join me in voting for Michael McAuley and Renata Kowalczyk for port commissioner.
County council member Kathy Kershner sent a letter on September 13 to the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), asking them to drop the lawsuit they filed recently against Rader Farms in Lynden, stemming from Rader Farms illegally clearing Category 1 wetlands in 2005, without getting a permit or submitting a plan to the Whatcom County.
Kershner wrote, “this direct action against Rader Farms, Inc. is part of a long list of roadblocks that government agencies have put up that stop jobless residents in Whatcom County from having the chance to pay their bills and feed their children.” Kershner also wrote, “Unnecessary and senseless regulation is an insidious job killer,” and she called the lawsuit “inflammatory.”
How dare she tell agencies entrusted to keep our environment protected and our water and air safe, not to do so, using jobs as a justification for ignoring regulations. Jobs will come and go, but we only get one environment.
Kershner’s opening line of her letter (written on her council letterhead), started with these words: “As chair of the Whatcom County Council.” By Kershner saying that, I believe it gives the letter’s recipients an implied understanding that she is speaking for the council, especially because she never states in the letter that she is not speaking for them.
I believe Kershner continues to show great disregard for our environment, thinking jobs trump everything … even our health and safety, and she tries to use her political influence asking the DOJ and EPA to disregard the law. I guess Kershner thinks since she and council member Bill Knutzen and certain others on our county council have managed to get away with ignoring Washington state law by refusing to comply with the mandated GMA for many years now, that perhaps she will be able to get the EPA and DOJ to ignore the laws they are sworn to uphold.
Most people in Washington who pay Puget Sound Energy (PSE) for electricity don’t know that PSE is the majority owner of the second largest coal plant in the western US – the Colstrip mine in Montana. Colstrip is the eighth largest polluter of CO2 emissions in the US, emitting 17.1 million metric tons annually. While PSE buys some power from the near obsolete Centralia plant, they also import dirty coal-fired power from the Colstrip plant in Montana, for over one million customers in the Puget Sound Region.
Whatcom County electricity is predominately sourced from PSE; therefore, we have the strongest voice in speaking out against the Colstrip plant. As ratepayers, Washington state law gives us the power to influence decisions made in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which outlines plans for securing “reliable and cost effective energy” over the next 20 years. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission WUTC has invited the public to comment on the IRP. Washington citizens have an opportunity to persuade them to choose a cleaner and more sustainable energy future. The deadline to submit comments has been extended through Friday, October 18.
PSE contributes a lot of money to the Colstrip plant attempting to make it marginally cleaner. Processing the coal there has created more than 800 acres of toxic coal ash waste ponds, which contaminate water supplies and destroy the surrounding ecosystem, including cattle owned by local ranchers. Ratepayer money is also spent to pay settlements from lawsuits brought by the people it’s impacting. This money could be spent more wisely.
With enough public input, PSE can begin to phase out the Colstrip plant and begin a transition to production of cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy, which would create more jobs that coal ever could. Andy Wappler, the VP for PSE corporate affairs has said, “We know that coal is a dead end.” Using coal and other fossil fuels is an unrealistic way to conduct a vital business. Silently polluting the oceans and atmosphere, compromising the air we breathe and ensuring an uncertain existence, ill health and societal chaos for future generations. Please send comments by Friday, October 18 to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Many hours spent reading the official Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) project application and learning the pros and cons of the proposed GPT coal export terminal have led me to the conclusion that GPT would significantly and seriously harm our community. The preponderance of information shows that GPT would damage our air and water quality, our health, our home property values, our tourism industry, our commercial fishing industry, our plentiful shared natural treasures and GPT would result in an overall net loss of jobs. The proposed GPT would transform our community, which now is centered upon a healthy connection to the land and sea, into North America’s biggest coal export dumping ground. The proposed GPT would turn Whatcom County into an unfortunate coal dominated community – just like a coal-mining town.
In Whatcom County, only the seven Whatcom County Council members (not the people of Whatcom County) will get to cast a vote for or against the proposed GPT coal export terminal. County council members will vote to approve or deny the building permits for GPT and thereby determine the future identity of our community. This November, we the people will elect four members to the council.
After careful consideration of all the candidates, I believe that Barry Buchanan, Carl Weimer, Rud Browne and Ken Mann are the candidates who will best protect the health, wealth and shared natural treasures of the people of Whatcom County and will oppose building permits for the proposed GPT coal export terminal. Barry Buchanan, Carl Weimer, Rud Browne and Ken Mann will keep Whatcom County on course growing a healthy economy while protecting our cherished quality of life and clean air and water. I urge all Whatcom County voters who have doubts or concerns about the proposed GPT to please vote for Barry Buchanan, Carl Weimer, Rud Browne and Ken Mann. They share our values and can be trusted to oppose the outsider multinational corporate efforts trying to turn beautiful Whatcom County into North America’s biggest coal export dumping ground.
There are two candidates vying for the Port of Bellingham’s district 2 this year. Both say that cleaning up the waterfront and bringing more jobs to Whatcom County are priorities. However, look closely and you will see some fundamental differences.
The Whatcom County Commercial Fisherman’s Association, labor groups, environmental leaders and firefighters, as well as most businesses on the port-owned waterfront have endorsed Mike McAuley. He supports port-owned properties being managed in the interest of the taxpayers. Mike is committed to doing the work for us; he has lowered port taxes for all county residents by 5 percent, and pushed for energy efficient upgrades that have saved us money. He does his homework, attends all port meetings and has a proven record. Most of his donations came in small amounts from local people.
Meanwhile, his opponent, Ken Bell, got thousands in donations from real estate brokers and developers. Bell is a former representative for Recomp. Today, he is a Whatcom County planning commissioner who spends much of his time traveling overseas through his company “Best Recycling.” According to public records, he has missed nearly half of the planning commission meetings in the past two years. The Whatcom taxpayers need a port commissioner who is committed to port business.
The race for Port of Bellingham will have a real and lasting impact on Whatcom County, especially in places like Blaine and Bellingham, for decades to come. We can’t let our valuable waterfront assets be forever gobbled up by private development. For me the choice is clear: Join me in voting to re-elect Mike McAuley!
Charlie Hawkins is the strongest candidate for Blaine city council because of his community minded solutions, previous experience and strong vision for Blaine’s future growth, especially for the Gateway Business Park.
Charlie is very aware of Blaine’s history and what has already been accomplished in town, which allows him to focus on efforts to continue to move forward.
Harry Robinson is a worthy candidate who also has a sensible strong vision for our community.
Please cast your ballot for Charlie and Harry.
On behalf of the Friends of Marine Park and the many folks who will have better visual and physical access to the shore at Telescope Beach Marine Park I want to say thank you to Blaine public works crew who completed the berm project this week as well as the volunteers who helped make this happen.
Surveys have indicated that the citizens of Whatcom County consider increasing access to the shore to be their highest priority. Completion of this phase of the project will go a long way towards providing better access to the shore at Marine Park.
I am pleased that the synergy between the city, the Friends of Marine of Park and Northwest Parks and Recreation District 2 enabled this significant shore access project to be completed and look forward to continuing working cooperatively with the city of Blaine to further improve recreational opportunities.
Richard C. Sturgill
In numerous presentations around town and recent published interviews, Ken Bell (running for port commissioner) has neglected to mention a big part of his professional life. Many of us remember when he was vice president at Recomp of Washington, the then-county garbage facility. For years, Ken Bell and Recomp fought to prevent testing of the thousands of tons of garbage they put in digesters, spun until it was hot, then put in big piles on their property. Many citizens called it “old, hot garbage,” but Ken Bell called it “municipal solid waste compost.” Recomp wanted to spread it on the farms that raise our food and on fields on which our children play. Recomp hired a high-priced law firm from Seattle to fight Whatcom County over whether the old, hot garbage should be tested for contaminants before it was spread.
It cost Whatcom County a lot of money to stand up to Ken Bell and his lawyers. After the garbage was tested, the health department found it contained high levels of heavy metals and other substances that harm people.
Is this who we want managing the cleanup of the GP site? Please vote for Mike McAuley for port commissioner.
As a property owner in Whatcom County, I recently became aware that some of my taxes go to the Port of Bellingham. Knowing this I thought I should educate myself on what is happening at the port and who is representing me. It was easy to meet and listen to the candidates up for election this November. I found Renata Kowaczyk and Mike McAuley share my values and priorities. Both strongly believe in a port that should work with the variety of businesses in our county, from fishing to agriculture, to tech, industry and the service segments.
Renata has a strong background in finance and management and Mike, up for re-election, has valuable experience in the daily working of our port, aside from being a local business owner. Both candidates understand the importance of our fragile environment but believe business and environment can work well together. In fact, Mike holds a BS degree in environmental policy. A quote from Renata’s web page states that “...we work to find a balance between our environment, our economy and our needs as families and individuals.”
Both candidates place a priority on a working waterfront, enhancing the port's support for jobs and businesses. This is an important point as our community needs good jobs for present residents while attracting new people to our area.
Sounds reasonable and hopeful to me!
I am voting for Carl Weimer for Whatcom County Council. I am doing so because Carl leads on the issues that matter. Carl leads on environmental challenges regarding growth boundaries and water quality. Carl leads on economic development with an eye toward sustainability. Carl leads on health, housing and human service issues on behalf of our most vulnerable citizens. I am voting for Carl Weimer because he fights everyday for all the residents of Whatcom County.
This year, environmental special interest groups are trying to scare us into voting for their rubber stamp candidates. We, as voters, need to stay in touch with reality. Whether you are a business or an individual, we are all likely facing our own budget shortfalls. Money is tight and government cannot remain oblivious to real life and real budgets. We as voters are tired of runaway spending, fed up with bigger government and we have had it with broken promises. Hardworking Whatcom County residents are taxed out and the bank is empty.
We need to re-elect Bill Knutzen to Whatcom County Council. He knows that his job is not just to vote, but also to communicate in a transparent environment with us all. Our problems cannot be swept under the rug. It is time for tough choices. Elected officials have to act, follow through and lead. Bill Knutzen is the county council candidate who will do just that.
The letter submitted by Lynn Carpenter disturbed me. I lean Republican and her letter is partisan and embarrasses me.
I know Mike McAuley personally. I ran against him for port commissioner four years ago and lost. We spent a lot of time together during that election, and I got to know and respect Mike.
We went all over Whatcom County meeting with voters, not just Bellingham. When meeting with voters in the county we dreaded the inevitable question from county voters: “What has the port done for us?”
The question of what the port had done for the county was a tough question because the port had become Bellingham centered, even though 60 percent of the voters lived in the county. Mike and I were not responsible for this port policy of taking care of Bellingham first.
The two Republican incumbent commissioners did not attend these functions, even though they were invited. I was embarrassed by their failure to even show up in the county to answer voter questions.
Public support for the port has declined. Through blogs and handing out his personal cell phone number, Mike did more to reach out to the common man on the street than any port commissioner in the 40 years I have been a port customer.
The two Republican candidates support spending $65 million on a yacht marina to support luxury condos planned for Bellingham’s waterfront. Voters cannot afford yachts or waterfront condos, so why should we be asked to subsidize the wealthy?
Call Mike and ask him if he would kill the marina if he could spend this money in the county and create more family wage jobs. I know his answer.
Lynn, the truth is the port did propose an ice skating rink on port property. It was built 20 years ago, and the taxpayers lost a lot of money on this dumb project. That skating rink was built with the support of two Republicans commissioners; Walker and Smith.
Get your facts straight.
Editor’s Note: The Port of Bellingham commission election is non-partisan, meaning candidates do not declare a party affiliation.
It seems there is some misinformation out there about what I am supporting for Bellingham’s waterfront. I have been working since day one on reusing most of the former the GP property for a clean-tech research and development campus linking Whatcom County with a future economy that is currently seeing worldwide investments of nearly $1 trillion annually.
Preparing for tomorrow’s business needs right now is critical but it also means that our efforts will help further diversify our local economy without competing against existing local business.
I have successfully pushed for the remainder of the GP property to be made available for the shipping terminal. Where the original plan had approximately eight acres of land for the terminal, we are now marketing 30 acres with the terminal. I’ve also successfully argued for better language in the plan that supports marine trades, reducing the risk they can be put in danger by unthinking officials who might price them out of our markets in the future.
Any person who wishes to see who my supporters are can find a complete list at mikeforport.com. And while it’s been claimed I support a waterfront ice rink and skate park, until I read about it in The Northern Light’s letters I wasn’t aware of any proposal to move the ice rink or skate park to Bellingham’s waterfront.
If folks would like to enjoy those sports while in Bellingham I’d recommend you head on up to the Civic Field complex and have fun at the existing ice rink and skate park, which I’m sure is pretty much where they are going to stay.
Most sincere regards,
Once again the signs are sprouting up all over the county telling us it is time for we the citizens to put on our thinking caps and go to work for our democracy. In this country it is our right and duty to vote. If we choose not to vote we give up our voice, the only thing we have to let our government know who we want to represent us and how we want them to act in our name. This is an off year election. In the last off year election in 2011, only 59 percent of registered voters actually cast ballots. How do these elected officials truly represent us when so few of us are choosing them?
Please find out about the candidates and what they stand for. Go to forums and see the candidates and hear about the issues. Think about what and who would be best for Whatcom County. We owe it to ourselves, our families and our neighbors to educate ourselves on this election and vote.
After doing this research, I have concluded that the right people for county council are Rud Browne, Carl Weimer, Ken Mann and Berry Buchanan. For the port commissioner’s positions, Mike McAuley has done an excellent job for us already and should continue at his post. Renata Kowalczyk will be a great addition to the commission. And I will be placing a yes vote on I-522 for GMO labeling!
Important decisions for the future of Whatcom County will be made over the next few years so be sure you have your say in those decisions.
Most of us can comprehend the notion of a drug addict resorting to theft in order to support his addiction. We secure our belongings to preclude becoming victims of those whose lives are dysfunctional. So why is it that so many people are seriously willing to let our precious environment be robbed of its value in order that the addicts of coal satisfy their cravings?
One of the most absurd arguments I’ve heard is job creation. Every method to maximize profit means paying the lowest wage possible to those who enable the addicts to acquire their substance. There is no future in such jobs since coal use is declining as electric utilities shift to cheaper, less-polluting natural gas. So folks, all in favor of low paying, no future substance abuse related jobs... please abstain from voting. Our quality of life is at stake.
I was appalled to see that the Democrat endorsed council candidates are on record for their opposition to the Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) contrary to quasi-judicial procedure.
At this time the project at Cherry Point GPT is currently under environmental review. This is an extremely thorough review process, with several multi-step studies.
Unfortunately, as printed in their campaign literature, the four men representing the Democrat party for Whatcom County Council already stand in opposition to the project before the review is even finalized.
The Washington Department of Ecology and the Army Corps of Engineers have set up the process so that the future council will be able to objectively weigh the results to make an educated decision.
So much for an impartial consideration of a project that could ultimately turn the economic tide in Whatcom County!
These Democrat candidates are not just bypassing the process, but are also ignoring that Cherry Point has been zoned for heavy industrial projects such as the proposed shipping terminal.
Vote for the four county council candidates (Kershner, Elenbaas, Luke and Knutzen) who have pledged to remain impartial until the review process comes before them; promising a thorough consideration of facts. After all, isn’t that the only ethical thing to do?
Ben Elenbaas knows how to protect himself, his children and others when he is operating farm equipment on his farm. He also takes the time to protect the health and viability of their lives when handling the family animals.
Ben is a BP operator who makes sure the men and women remain safe during operations on the job ,too. Ben knows safety. He will work hard to protect the safety of Whatcom County residents. He serves as an industrial firefighter at BP, and as a result he greatly values our first responders.
Ben Elenbaas will be the safest choice for our Whatcom County Council.
Please vote for Ben Elenbaas for county council!
I attended the League of Women Voters election forum for county council candidates this month. All four conservatives were disdainful of state legislation; they believe county council can ignore state orders they dislike because they come from Olympia and, worse, from officials not elected locally. Conservatives believe, with no evidence, that rolling back regulations that protect water quality and ensure adequate water supplies will create jobs.
The progressive candidates (Carl Weimer, Ken Mann, Rud Browne and Barry Buchanan) believe we can both protect the environment and create new jobs. Progressives focus more on long-term benefits, while conservatives focus only on short-term economics. Progressives look for policies that benefit the largest number of Whatcom citizens, while conservatives focus on business profits and a few property owners.
If you care about the long-term health of our county and its citizens, please vote for Carl Weimer, Ken Mann, Rud Browne and Barry Buchanan by November 5.
Many voters in Whatcom County may not understand that our vote this November is key to the decision on the fate of whether this project is approved or denied.
We have all heard many conflicting pros and cons about the benefits and burdens of Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT). But what we need to understand is that we citizens do not get to vote on it. The government agencies in charge; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Washington State Department of Ecology, and Whatcom County Council only make that determination. Any one of these three agencies can deny the permit and stop it.
Voters need to be aware of GPT’s jobs, health and environmental impacts, its burdens and benefits.
For a quick review of these, please see this short film: https://vimeo.com/76731816. There is a lot at stake. Be informed, and find out where your candidate stands.