Their take: council questions

Published on Thu, Nov 1, 2001
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Their take: council questions

We asked Blaine city council candidates these questions about how they would run the city.

1. Recent events have led to a refocusing of America’s finances. If federal money is not available in 2002, or 2003, to fund a regional sewer plant, what direction should Blaine go to address its sewer problems?

2. If you had to choose one original project to concentrate on as a city council member that would boost economic prosperity for Blaine, what would it be?

3 What personal qualities do you think are most important in a city council member?

Here are their answers.

David White, Ward One
1. The regional idea is no good for this area because of the costs involved. With no growth in Blaine the huge costs would have to be born by the existing ratepayers who would be economically devastated. We cannot afford what could be $100 a month rates. There are two scenarios that the council did not look at seriously enough and that is sending it to Canada, and a wastewater treatment plant down near Marine Park. A plant for about $5 million that would give us water discharge almost clean enough to drink.
2: Lower business start up costs and license fees, eliminate the turn-of-the-century restrictions placed on a business, provide incentives such as lower utility fees to get started for the first year and then raise them after they have become up and running.
3. The most important thing a council member can do for the city is to listen to the people who pay the bills, the people. It is their money and when they speak no one matters more then they do. In my previous eight years on the council there was never a call I received from a citizen that did not get my full attention. Also the council member should not be a rubber stamper of everything put before them. They should question everything that they have to decide on because their decisions can affect a great many lives.
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Bonnie Onyon, Ward One
1. Obviously we will have to find a suitable site and build our own plant if it appears that we cannot obtain grant funding for a regional plant. However, with over $2.6 million already spent on preparation work at the present site, and with construction costs likely to be higher in the future, a city-owned plant will also be quite costly and we will probably seek federal funding under this scenario as well.
It is important to understand that there is no guarantee a city plant will cost Blaine less than a regional plant would. There could be more dollars available for a regional plant than for a city plant, partly because of the range of stakeholders (city, county, Lummi, private industry, etc.) involved. Whatever the ultimate outcome, all possibilities are being explored and studied in detail by council and city staff.
2. While we need to continue with downtown revitalization and encouraging tourism, Blaine also needs to diversify its economic base by attracting family wage jobs in the industrial sector. We have a significant amount of manufacturing and industrial-zoned land where these businesses can locate. I would like to see Blaine actively support Whatcom Public Utility District #1’s efforts to bring fiber optics to Blaine, and to actively pursue the kinds of higher wage businesses that desire or require high speed internet access that fiber optics can provide.
3. Listen to the needs and concerns of Blaine citizens. Study the issues so you can make informed decisions based on what’s best for the community as a whole. Be accountable and responsible to citizens. Be open-minded. Have the courage to vote your conscience. Be respectful and courteous to citizens, fellow council members, and city staff. Possess a deep caring and concern for the Blaine community.Back to Top

Jim Anderson, Ward Two
1. Blaine has a sewer treatment plant on the Semiahmoo side so lets take 4 acres on the east side of Blaine and build a new sewer treatment plant for millions less. Semiahmoo on the west side would use the existing plant and the east side would use the new plant, the cost would be less to all homeowners.
2.Drop all high user fees and promote Blaine by opening our arms out and asking new business to come to Blaine and bring greatly needed new jobs which all of Blaine well benefit from. Jobs bring revenue. Blaine’s budget is too high. $30 million dollars for only 3,600 people. The council should be cutting costs and stop trying to increase taxes to make up the short fall.
3. A council member should have passion for the town and the people and should always put people first. Back to Top

Bruce Wolf, Ward Two
1. The best long-term solution to Blaine’s sewage problem is a regional facility, which requires outside funding. If federal assistance cannot be found soon, I would continue to use the existing facility providing upgrades as required by law, until our permanent objective is achieved.
2. The primary problem on which I will concentrate is the lack of proactive recruitment of industry to Blaine. If elected I would help form a group of informed, experienced business men and women to work with existing groups and city council to seek out target industries. This group would streamline red tape and present a cooperative, welcoming front to potential parties like Canadian businesses interested in satellite cross-border offices or trucking industries because of increased demand.
3. An effective city council member must be honest, intelligent, educated, and experienced in administration. He should be an effective leader who listens to his constituents, his fellow council members and city staff to make informed, sensible decisions. Back to Top

Mike Myers, Ward Three
1.The sewer problem is probably the most important infrastructure need. The most viable solution is the regional one as it will solve Blaine’s and Birch Bay’s sewer problems for at least 20 years as well as accommodate future upgrades. This will take five to 10 years to accomplish and require matching federal and/or state funding. In the meantime, reconstruction, necessary additions and replacements, maintenance, etc. to the existing system should support incorporation into the regional plan. Even though this is a costly proposition – the costs can be spread out over the five to 10 year period . We simply just cannot avoid it.
2. Pure and simple, we just need to attract good business to the downtown and International Mall areas. We need to get businesses to start up here rather than other areas in the county. We need to establish incentives for our residents to shop here rather than run down the freeway to Bellingham. Businesses will establish themselves here when they recognize there’s a market. It’s up to us to create that attraction. We already have the basis for a good business environment; an appealing, pleasant site and lots of customers. Construction of the boardwalk along Peace Portal and Marine drives will provide a positive addition to that basis.
3: A city council member above all should bear in mind what’s best for the entire Blaine community. He or she can best accomplish this by working proactively with other members of the council based upon the desires and needs of the community. The council person needs to make a commitment of both time and effort and be able to balance accomplishment with fairness.
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Dave Gagnon, At-large
1.Other options should have been strongly considered instead of the most expensive $32 million proposal which would cost thousands of dollars to every man, woman and child in Blaine. The option to contract with White Rock/Surrey for $9 million should seriously be reviewed or a wider regional option needs to be
2. Reviewing rezoning along the Pacific Highway corridor would be important to Blaine’s economic health. With the state and federal governments funding highway improvements, we must recognize the opportunity to utilize our border location and the amount of commerce that passes through the Pacific Highway Truck Crossing to bring in revenue. Different types of businesses whether it be shipping/freight forwarding, truck services, business presence services can locate along this corridor if zoning can be upgraded to full highway/commercial and will bring jobs to our city. City government focuses all attention to economic growth to our downtown central business district when millions of dollars in commerce passes through Blaine every day. Trucks that are waiting on I-5 to go north or pass through heading south without using any of our services are a lost opportunity for us.
3. It’s important to recognize we are a diverse community with different needs and different economically beneficial qualities. City Council members must have the courage to recognize that they are solely responsible for city functions, economic growth and responsible fiscal spending. They must be willing to take responsibility and lead our community - not merely follow the whims of commissions or city staff. It’s unacceptable not to recognize other options of raising revenue before raising taxes or fees. City Council members need to see our community as one and not carry a narrow vision on what life in Blaine should be like. I’m prepared to handle this responsibility and ask for your support. Back to Top

Marsh Hawkins, At-large
1. If there is no federal funding for the sewer treatment plant then we will have to get together as a council, city employees and a community and look at the other sewer treatment possibilities. We looked at a number of options before deciding that the regional sewer treatment plant was our best option. We would have to go back and look at those options and decide on locations, type of plant and a funding package. My hope is that we will be able to get the funding for the Birch Bay Regional Plant.
2.The slow down at the border is very hard on our local and county economy. I would like to see all of us encourage the state and federal government to hire more employees and open more lines across the border.
3. An ability to work with others, listen, have opinions, discuss and look at all sides of an issue and then come to an informed decision that is the best for the people of Blaine.

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