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Letters to the Editor, Week of Nov. 2, 2022

Editor’s Note: Thanks to everyone who has written letters to the editor in support of candidates for the current general election. We are wrapping up our run of elections-related letters with this issue. 


Re: Bike Lanes on Cornwall (CDN, Oct. 26, 2022).

This summer we had an errant (parked more than 3 feet from the curb), apparently abandoned RV/camper park in front of my building in the Lettered Streets. It was there several days when the police made contact with its sometime-occupant. He was ill-kept and somewhat incoherent, much like his vehicle. I spoke with the officer in charge as we waited for EMS to arrive to tend to the man. The officer told me that their prompt attention to the matter was due to the vehicle blocking the street. And she further told me that the removal of vehicles like this one routinely ends up costing the city between $2,000–$3,000. The police are short-staffed and have limited resources.

The connection is that though the city council was frustrated and divided over the bike lane decision, they are looking at a single symptom and not an overarching solution. I applaud Michael Lilliquist’s compassionate proposal to exempt lower Cornwall Avenue from the bike lane mandate, and Dan Hammill is correct when he points out that the city is inconsistent in its enforcement (due to the costs and constraints I mentioned above), and is not wont to remove homeless from their appropriated street space. 

The individuals who are hoping to continue living on public property have made decisions far upstream from the Bellingham waterfront that have landed them there. It may not be within their abilities or their means to find another place. These “denizens” have until next summer, after that, their homes are subject to immediate removal, but in the meantime, winter is approaching and the challenges of staying warm and dry are here. The city needs a compassionate but durable solution.

Steve Bailey



To anyone worried about the integrity of our elections, I suggest you see for yourself. In Washington, we have opportunities to observe each election and see for ourselves the security in the collecting and counting of our ballots.  

I recently attended the Logic and Accuracy tests at the Auditor’s office, along with two other nonpartisan observers, and five observers from the Washington Secretary of State’s office. Amy Grasher, elections supervisor, fed a pre-marked test deck of ballots from 173 precincts into the Clear Ballot machine. The machine almost instantly counted the ballots and imprinted each with a number. Then Amy put the ballots into a tamper-evident bag. The machines are certified like this before each and every election.

The official observer program is dictated by state law and anyone can watch the steps in our upcoming election. Whatcom County Auditor, Diana Bradrick, encourages people to observe elections and to ask questions so that we understand how secure the procedure is. There are two ways to observe: appearing in person Oct. 19 to Nov. 28, between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday; secondly, from home watching the five livestream webcams 24 hours a day. On the dates after Election Day, you can watch the hand count and the risk-limiting audits that check the results for accuracy.

Beforehand, go to the Whatcom County Auditor’s website, read the online Observer Guide and watch the Observer Training Video. You’ll see how the signature on every envelope, without exception, is verified before the ballot goes to the next step. When I first took the election observer training, I was impressed with the painstaking procedures they use for accuracy and transparency. As an observer on the training video noted: “It’s too bad everybody doesn’t have to watch it before they make their first complaint.”

Kit Muehlman



I had a big smile on my face when I saw that Alan Rhodes, aka Mr. Cranky, has resurfaced in the pages of Cascadia Daily News, and that he might be persuaded to contribute more op-ed pieces going forward. He was always the first thing I looked for when I picked up a copy of the Cascadia Weekly, and to have him back (sort of) in the area’s newest paper will make it even more special. I look forward to more of his “crankiness” on any subject on which he cares to opine. Welcome back, Mr. Cranky, and I don’t think I’m alone in saying that.

Lauren St. Pierre



I hope that your publication continues to grow and that you can expand into the full Cascadia region that spreads from Vancouver, B.C., to Washington to Oregon.

And maybe you can include updates about the Salish Sea and Puget Sound.

This might be a great project for a lot of WWU Vikings to undertake.

Derek Benedict



The cost of living has poked a hole in my dream of one day owning my own house or raising a family with less than two full-time incomes. Crime has poked a hole in my dream of feeling safe when I have kids and take them to the park or send them to school. Inflation has poked a hole in my tires, or it might as well have since I can’t drive anywhere because it’s so expensive. 

Everyone has felt these things more so than at any other time in this state and county. 

We have a voice! We need to vote for people who will listen and represent us well in Olympia. We have a candidate who is willing to stand strong and put up a fight for our rights and our ability to live in our own town without being taxed out of our homes — we can’t afford to sit this one out. We have to vote and give our county a chance to live without being robbed by tax upon tax.

Sen. Simon Sefzik is fighting to lower taxes in Olympia. Even though inflation is costing the average family an estimated increase of $673 a month per household, the state Legislature has not given the people of Washington tax relief and is the only Democrat-run state that hasn’t. 

Sefzik has already introduced a gas tax suspension that was turned down by your Democratic politicians. Rep. Sharon Shewmake, Sefzik’s opponent, supported gas tax increases which will raise the cost of gas by $1 per gallon starting next year. 

We need Sefzik to help us make a difference. And Sefzik needs us to help him make a difference. Go vote early and remind a friend, your grandma or a relative to vote. 

Sefzik is the choice of law enforcement, the choice of the businesses in the county, and with your help, the choice of the people. Make your voice heard — go vote! 

Joanna Shaver



From abroad: So even though I sit enjoying the wonderful views and great food of the Sicilian Riviera, it is hard not to check in with U.S. and local news to see if it is still as crazy in my homeland as it was a month ago? Of course, the answer is it is still getting progressively worse by the month.

What amazes me is how blithely oblivious some are about just how crazy it is.

As a post-war baby, I have always been acutely aware of history and politics. As a Vietnam-era draftee and vet, I became even more so. I sincerely believe if there were still a draft and every citizen, man and woman had to confront history and politics and choose to be involved or leave, at least politicians would have more accountability.

Traveling through a country where fascism is on the rise and where German tourism has a huge presence, I am surrounded by Italians and Germans my age who had fathers or relatives who were supporters of Nazism or Mussolini-style fascism, and it is sobering how all that is still just under the surface.  

And in the U.S., like here, ongoing racism, still rampant from the Civil War era in many states, and the new Christian Imperialism is just as disturbing and dangerous.

So many 40- to 50-somethings these days seem to know or care little about history and bad-mouth politics as if it does not affect them and their children. And many continue to indoctrinate and limit their children’s awareness with Christian mythology.

So on it goes, Republicanism continues to be the new all-consuming mental illness. Moronic pachyderm politicians continue to spout nonsense like “there is no freedom from religion,” the Supreme Court proves it is also supremely corrupted and the country drifts closer to civil war and mayhem.  

Will it ultimately take catastrophic circumstances to wake people up? And how much more catastrophic can it be than where we are at as a country now? Apparently, we are fast trying to find out. God help America.

Michael Waite



I have mixed feelings about electing judges; judges are the only antidote to where we are as a society, and we need them to be able to take the long view while solving real day-to-day issues in our communities. In all of the vast, upsetting politics that only provide voices to insurrectionists on one side and anarchists on the other, judges are who we ask to keep the social contract intact.

I grew up in rural Maine, and all my elected or appointed officials were people I knew, making them accountable because we all knew who did what and why. 

I met Jonathan Rands this week when he stopped by my home in Bellingham. We chatted and he left some materials for me to look over. He impressed me; I cannot recall the last time I saw someone with endorsements and credentials like his. 

If such diverse groups as those who have endorsed him think he is the right person for the job, I am convinced.

The hard work needed to build community, connections and comity, demonstrated through his endorsements, makes Rands the kind of public figure we need.

I’m writing this letter to support his election to District Court judge.

Nathan Tableman



In your Wednesday, Oct. 12 article re: a DOE grant to support a forest initiative, your reporter writes that the Nooksack River has serious health concerns including elevated water temperatures, which have a deleterious effect on our native fish populations. In a letter to the editor the week before, Oct. 5, Hayley Steele alerts us to the possible auction of a legacy forest, Box of Rain, at the confluence of Clearwater Creek and the middle fork of the Nooksack, for clear-cutting. Why are we even considering the auctioning of a mature, intact forest that is providing shade, habitat and flood protection for our imperiled Nooksack? Such systems need to be left in place to do the vital and free work they do.

Mary Loquvam



A recent letter writer suggested the promoters of the so-called healthy kids property tax levy suffer from a “lack of imagination” in their approach to the dearth of quality child care facilities in Whatcom County. I concur with that opinion.  

Why didn’t these Proposition 5 activists consider the fact that the United States provided universal child care during World War II, instead of thinking so provincially, with an illiberal and narrow viewpoint? During WWII, mothers entered the workforce out of necessity because the men were sent off to war. If our country could provide universal childcare over 70 years ago, why did our local Prop 5 proponents design an aspirational ballot initiative that falls so far short? 

One of the crown jewels of the Child Service Centers in WWII was set up by an employer, the Kaiser Company, at its shipyards in Portland, Oregon. Designed and scaled to children’s needs, Kaiser offered child care 24 hours a day (to accommodate night-shift workers), a highly trained staff, a curriculum planned by leading early childhood experts, and even a cooked-food service for weary parents picking up their children after an arduous shift. 

It strikes me that Proposition 5 could be described as elitist and, if passed, will result in even more societal division in our county because it relies on property taxes. I read the entire Prop 5 ordinance and I believe it telegraphs assumptions that low-income parents are not capable of providing quality care to their children. 

I did extensive searches and I cannot find a single jurisdiction in the United States that has implemented a property tax levy to pay for child care for children from 0–5 years. 

Read the entire ordinance before you cast your vote. It is so vague and full of far-reaching promises that cannot possibly be met. Vote NO for this 10-year tax levy. Our kids deserve a better plan. 

Delores Davies



Democratic policies have raised inflation and the cost of housing and living. It was their policies that handcuffed our law enforcement and caused crime to skyrocket. It was the lack of will on the part of the majority party to check the executive’s emergency powers that caused hundreds of businesses to close, and hundreds of folks to lose their jobs. It was Democrat Sharon Shewmake, who runs as an economist, yet in the past four years voted to raise taxes on housing, groceries and an unconstitutional income tax, and who did nothing to return a budget surplus to the people. 

The candidate that will actually lower taxes, cut regulations, vote to restore public safety and work to increase checks on executive emergency powers is Simon Sefzik. He has a voting record that actually matches his rhetoric, having sponsored legislation to suspend the gas tax, having voted for measures that allow our police officers to do their jobs and who fights to check executive emergency powers. I urge you to vote for Sefzik for Senate, and Tawsha Thompson and Dan Johnson for the House.

Daniel Johner



State Rep. Alex Ramel deserves our vote for re-election. During his time in the Legislature, Alex has continuously stood up for working families and healthy communities. He was a leader in developing our State Energy Strategy which will lower pollution, lower costs for working families and lead the way to energy independence, local resilience and good jobs.

With housing as one of the biggest issues facing our community, Alex was a leader in the state Legislature and supported the investment of $439 million for building affordable homes and the elimination of excise taxes for the construction of affordable housing.

What I value most about Alex is that he is an honest, hard-working and truthful person. He cares about individuals and is always ready to listen to your story. As part of the 40th District legislative team, he is an integral part of getting legislation passed.

Alex holds the position of Deputy Whip of the House Democrats and has a long list of endorsements from leaders across our region and at the local level. We are fortunate to have a leader like Alex in Olympia representing us. If you value honesty and integrity, please join me in supporting him this election.

Judith Akins



To set the record straight, Gordon Jenkins not only supports community courts but is the very clear choice in the District Court Judge race as he already has experience referring defendants to similar therapeutic courts. State law requires that any referral to a community court be approved by a prosecutor, a position Jenkins currently holds with the county in addition to his past work as a public defender. 

This experience led Jenkins to give a very nuanced and thoughtful response to endorsement questions based on his experience with these types of courts, but we all know nuance and knowledge are rarely rewarded in politics. 

He has expanded defendant access to drug courts during his time as a prosecutor and will be a vocal and determined advocate for community courts, whose extensive experience on both the prosecutorial and defense sides means he understands who will be a good fit for those courts and who needs to be kept away from the public. As his opponent lacks prosecutorial and alternative court referral experience, Jenkins deserves your vote in this election as the better fit to expand access to community courts.

Andrew Shelton


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