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Citizens Agenda: PeaceHealth, homelessness, water quality top voter concerns

Jail bond, police training, school curriculum also rank high

By CDN Staff

Editor’s note: Thanks to all who submitted questions and voted on top issues during CDN’s second Citizens Agenda campaign. 

In an online ballot and in our July 14 Election Extra primary guide, we submitted for public vote more than 100 questions (see page ELX 4 in CDN’s Primary Voter Guide) about local concerns sent to us by readers/voters. From that list, we received a healthy number of votes for questions considered most important by readers. 

The “winning” questions, separated into groups by subject below, will be submitted to all candidates who are subject to CDN’s upcoming general election editorial endorsement process; their personal answers will be published in the CDN general election Voter Guide on Oct. 13. 

The questions also will form a foundation for interviews, forums, and other activities for CDN reporters through the coming general election season. 

#45. What do you believe are the specific causes of Bellingham’s homelessness crisis? Do you have a metric in mind to gauge your administration’s success in addressing homelessness? And what is your timetable for that metric? What do you believe is the best type of homeless shelter — low-barrier, or should something be expected from residents who want to be sheltered at these locations? Should “illegal campers” face citations, criminal charges — or do you have alternative ideas?

#23. Lake Whatcom reservoir continues to be abused with construction, sewage, traffic, motorboats, jet skis and fertilizers. What are the top three actions you will take to significantly decrease the human impact on Bellingham's drinking water reservoir?

#71. Because PeaceHealth continues to cut services, what will you do to ensure that PH uses its tax-exempt status to contribute to community benefits?  With only one hospital in Whatcom County, and all major policy decisions made at the corporate level in Vancouver, WA, what ideas do you have to return policy decisions to local control?

#70. The near monopolistic power of PeaceHealth in this county is considered by many as detrimental to health, access to services and well-being of our community. Considering that PeaceHealth has recently cut services that can negatively impact residents' access to necessary health services, what are your thoughts about allowing PeaceHealth's local/regional tax-exempt status to continue?

#38. How should we create more affordable housing in Whatcom County?

#96. What specifically will you do within the first 90 days of your term to fund and provide community-based services for income support, housing, behavioral health and substance use disorder treatment (including harm reduction)?

#92. Will you support building a new jail in Whatcom County? And why?

#94. Law enforcement (peace) officers need to be better trained (sociology, psychology, human behavior, defensive techniques, medical assistance, diversity, etc.) to deal with a variety of situations.  They also need to be better paid and respected/trusted in the community because of the very challenging situations that they have to deal with on a daily basis. How will you accomplish this?

#104. Will you commit to respecting the professional judgment of educators regarding the curriculum taught in your district?

#103. Given the rise in book banning around the country, what will you do to protect our students' access to books?

#105. How will you support better funding and support for public schools in Whatcom County? This should include better training and pay for teachers, counselors and support staff. Encourage more respectful and constructive dialogue during board meetings.

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