Vision, Values & Issues Statement
I have a passion to serve my community, and I bring a unique set of qualifications to tackle the issues facing our county. My campaign is about the investment we are going to make together in our collective future. It is about leadership based on strong community values, thoughtful dialogue and a steady hand on the wheel of County Government.
We are better than our current politics. We have more in common than what divides us. We must not be powerless to solve our common issues due to our inability to have civil and meaningful conversations.
Consensus does not mean we agree on everything. It means that we can all live with the solutions we propose as a community. We, the people of Whatcom County, need to have the courage to disagree and still love each other.
I will work to bridge the gap and make County Government work for all its citizens. My record shows that I have practiced this in my professional and public life.
Environment and Climate Change. Climate change is an existential threat to the human species. For the past 150 years, we have not been cleaning up after ourselves. We must take full responsibility, stop polluting and take action to reverse this trend.
Here are some things I propose:
- Conduct an Environmental Audit for all County operations to identify where improvements can be made right now and over the long term.
- Empower experts to create a roadmap for a cleaner and prosperous future.
- Plant a million trees over the next five years!
- Promote positive change in our energy use, our purchasing habits, our eating habits and routine business practices.
Housing Affordability and Land-Use Planning. We must learn to use our land more efficiently. We cannot continue to develop ag lands and natural areas. The land we have already set aside for human habitation should be used in a way to accommodate more people. We have been growing at a rate of one Ferndale every 3.5 years, adding more the 4000 residents a year. And this trend will continue into the foreseeable future. Do we have any advance planning for that? Unfortunately, no, at least not on the scale necessary to manage this growth. The current problems of housing affordability, homelessness, income equality and environmental degradation are our inheritance of poor long-term planning and lack of vision at all levels of government. We should not punish our children and grandchildren with the same failure to plan ahead.
I will challenge the County Council, land developers, landowners, county and municipal planners, conservation groups, farmers and city residents to work together. My vision is:
- Work with County Council to explore modifications of our land-use policies and Urban Growth Areas, such as expanding mixed zoning, in-fill, and higher density.
- Avoid housing on prime agricultural lands and utilize county lands which are more suitable for housing and commercial development.
- Minimize rural development where each home requires a separate well and septic system. Promote community water and sewer facilities where feasible.
Economic Development and Job Growth for the 21st Century. As I prepare for what might be the last job I take, I am thinking about young people preparing for their first job, about people who are stuck in jobs without prospects for advancement, without a dignified retirement plan.
“My workforce development successes at BTC were recognized at the state level by two governors. I will bring this innovative approach to job creation and training to the county’s executive office. We need to transition from a retail service economy to value-added processing and export-oriented manufacturing to grow our job base.”
The Water Challenge. Water is the life blood of Whatcom County, from the glaciers on Mount Baker to estuaries and bays of the Salish Sea. However, a legacy of poor planning, pollution and now Climate Change threaten this critical resource. We must preserve and enhance the fish habitat, provide water for farmers and residents, all while improving our environment and water quality.
We need both visionary and practical leadership on this issue. I will seek pragmatic solutions by involving all water users for practical solutions for future decades. I have invested enormous amounts of time in building relationships and trust with farmers, conservationists and the tribes, and I will put this to use in developing workable solutions which adequately address the concerns of all stakeholders.
Legal and Criminal Justice System Reforms. The year 2020 will bring a new era in our local governance. There will be a new County Executive, new mayor of Bellingham and we already have a new Public Prosecutor. This presents an opportunity to think outside the box and bring meaningful reforms to our criminal justice system. I will be a proactive leader, promoting and implementing policies developed by Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force.
I will work with the new mayor and prosecutor to propose a long-term joint strategy to fund the alternates to incarceration, long-term care for mental health, addiction services, triage facility operations, and to invest in new and properly equipped jail building with wrap-around services in Bellingham.
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These ideas are not just slogans or talking points for me. My experience taught me that the quality of inputs and controls determines the quality of outputs. I do not have all the solutions, but I do have an open mind, intellectual curiosity and a willingness to listen to experts. I bring clarity of vision and leadership to identify practical solutions and build action plans to implement them.
“Fifty years ago, I was a young university student who looked to America with awe as it put the first person on the moon. It was my dream to become engineer, go to America and do great things! If going to the moon is possible, then what else is possible!?”
In many ways, this dream came true. I became an engineer and a Fulbright scholar, worked on some amazing projects, served as a dean at Bellingham Technical College, started a small business together with my wife, brought up three very capable sons, and won the trust of my community to serve on the County Council.
In some ways, however, the moon landing also represents an unfulfilled promise. What is the value of that accomplishment in view the challenges we face today – the climate crisis, the homelessness crisis, the opioid crisis? It seems we are still waiting for mankind to make that giant leap into a better future for everyone.
Nonetheless, I remain optimistic! I believe that if we focus our best minds and sufficient resources we can address these issues in a meaningful way. If I did not believe that, I would not be running for County Executive.
This is my commitment to you: I will work tirelessly for you and with you over the next four years to achieve real progress on these core issues facing our community. But first, I ask for your support and your vote!