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Letters to the Editor, Week of Oct. 11, 2023

Candidate love, government, voting records and fire dog Krypto


I am dismayed and disappointed at the Cascadia’s newly-acquired habit of posting any and all letters written in favor of candidates for office, specifically Kim Lund and Donnell Tanksley. The sheer volume of letters for these two candidates in particular reeks to me of a pre-planned “astroturf” campaign tactic, especially after at least one subsequent letter outed a Lund proponent’s previous letter as being from the wife of one of Lund’s financial backers.

Whether these letters are or are not genuine in their heartfelt support, there is no way for me to know, or for the editors of the Cascadia to know, or for the public to know. Hence, they should not be printed, as the potential for abuse is obvious, or should be. The Cascadia is, after all, a newspaper, not Facebook or Twitter, and you would think you would have a higher standard than “some guy says,” even in the letters column.

The way things stand, if I wrote a letter about the time Seth Fleetwood, accompanied by his dog, Krypto, flew in and saved me from a house fire before extinguishing it with his super-breath, you’d print it, wouldn’t you? Well, that totally happened. Vote accordingly.

Michael L. Miller


Editor’s Note: No, we wouldn’t. But we sort of just did, to allow a point. CDN does have standards considerably more stringent than anonymous social-media blather: We do our best to verify identities and to weed out obvious false claims or misinformation. Our selection of letters generally reflects the volume of letters received on any given subject. We publish nearly all verifiable letters we receive online, and as many as space allows in print. Also, please note that the Opinion editor has never been known to acquire new habits of any kind. 



Years ago, as the city and county grappled with our comprehensive plan updates, required under the Growth Management Act (GMA), Seth Fleetwood and I agreed that most of the citizens of Bellingham knew very little about the GMA or comprehensive plans. Seth was on the county council at the time, and I served on the Bellingham City Council. We decided that we needed robust discussions about growth, why we plan for it, and what options are available for managing it.

For the first time in city or county history, the two councils worked together to develop a program of information called the Growth Forum to take to every neighborhood in Bellingham. 

The first question at all of these meetings was always, “Why growth? Why not stay the same? We like things just like they are now.”

No-growth is not an option. But after listening to all neighborhoods, we identified several areas where higher density is appropriate, called Urban Villages. These areas would be served by transit and by more businesses. Examples include Fairhaven and the area along Samish Way. Those plans were translated into zoning changes that have produced new housing and business opportunities to underserved and neglected areas of our city.

Seth Fleetwood understands collaboration. He enjoys listening. He can translate plans into actions that improve our city. He deserves our vote.

Barbara Ryan




Mayor Seth Fleetwood is a tireless working mayor who led the city through a pandemic — the most complex, unprecedented challenge of modern times — along with managing the economic impacts, social unrest and deep civic divides that came along with it and remain today.

Through these difficult times, his administration has delivered quality city services, held steady the city’s day-to-day operations, and made forward progress on key priorities using a strong and collaborative relationship with his staff.

Fleetwood values listening, solving problems and meeting diverse interests. He applies these values to decisions as unique needs and issues emerge, often accompanied by incomplete data, anger, conflict and urgency.

Fleetwood knows the systems for operating at City Hall, he knows the processes, the network, and he has the relationships needed.

He has worked for our community for many years, having served on the Whatcom County Council and the Bellingham City Council.

Fleetwood has prioritized public health and safety, with extensive investments downtown.

He hired more than 40 firefighters, and developed innovative police recruitment and retention strategies to address law enforcement shortages. Thirteen new police officers are in the police academy now.

He has: prioritized addressing co-occurring affordable housing, homelessness, behavioral health and fentanyl use crises; increased extreme weather services and tripled the number of tiny homes; expanded greenways, and developed new parks and trails; elevated the transition to renewable energy sources and increased wildfire education; started new race, justice, and diversity initiatives.

Vote for Seth Fleetwood so that he can continue to keep our city moving forward.

Mary Passmore, past planning commissioner



Vote for Donnell Tanksley for Whatcom County Sheriff.

Twenty years later we are nowhere close to where we need to be as a community in helping our homeless, mentally ill and addicted citizens build better lives, safe from harm and incarceration. 

These 20 years have yielded little. We have an unsafe jail that has not been maintained by the “experienced” few. We have an inordinate amount of folks incarcerated because of the three issues mentioned above, while little has been done to relieve those issues in our community. Those in charge of the criminal justice system here, such as Mr. [Bill] Elfo, simply shout that we need a new bigger jail to take care of these issues. Doug Chadwick reiterates the “solutions” of the past. The citizens of Whatcom County have indicated that jailing people is not the solution.

Donnell Tanksley brings varied experience to tackle these problems. He has 20 years of experience that is more varied and includes leadership positions. He has a record of working with others. His breadth of experience is exactly what we need to solve these very complex issues. His focus on reducing and preventing crime through a proactive community-focused approach and breaking the cycle of incarceration and recidivism is essential to making our communities safer and healthier. “Homelessness and mental illness are not crimes and should not be treated as such.” 

On the jail issue, Tanksley takes a broad approach to the problem of crowding and overbooking, citing several approaches he would take if elected.

Ronna Loerch




I see that many people object to government overreach, but ironically seem to want to do the overreach themselves. They want to choose for others what can be available to read, what is medically available, moral choices and other personal choices of all kinds. Some people think actual history is something they also need to restrict access to. Why?

People are highly fearful for their kids, schools aren’t sources of vindictive brainwashing. The vast majority of adult Americans attended public school and they still think whatever they want to. 

Parents have way more influence at home than they give themselves credit for. Pay attention to what’s in the backpack, what they watch, who their friends are, and what you, as a parent, say and do. That’s one thing they watch for sure. 

I don’t want grassroots “overreach” to invade my choices and I don’t want to invade anyone else’s right to choose. Live and let live?

What about if you don’t like something? Look away, walk away, or maybe stay and learn what motivates the people involved. Don’t like the color of your neighbor’s house? Look away, or look inside and see you like them anyway. 

Laura Corker




The attacks on Israel seem almost Biblical in nature; remember the stories of a faithless people overcome by Egyptians, Babylonians, Assyrians, etc. But we need to think of our own country and our immense good fortune as we profess a history of a faithful people seeking God first as they escaped from persecution. Unfortunately today we are besieged by division on all sides. 

Perhaps all of us need to remember that we are called to holiness. Too many people immersed in self-seeking have dismissed such a notion as absurd. The negative effect on the culture is quite apparent.

Rose Marie Norton-Nader




Our quality of life requires a sheriff to know our community and maintain the excellent relationships between the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO), citizens, law enforcement, schools, fire districts, and mental health and substance abuse providers. Your sheriff should also have earned a high degree of support and trust among WCSO staff. Doug Chadwick’s overwhelming support, reputation, accomplishments and vision for public safety in Whatcom County are unmatched.

With 28 years of experience, Doug commands all of the complex and diverse law enforcement, corrections and emergency management operations. He also commands the WCSO Gang/Drug Task Force, which is the only local enforcement group committed to high-level investigations designed to disrupt organized criminal enterprises bringing deadly fentanyl into our community.

Doug implemented the widely acclaimed [Crisis Intervention Deputy] and programs providing mental health professionals to assist those in crisis. He formed and trained the Crisis Response Team that successfully diffuses most threats, minimizes the need for force and is hailed statewide as a model.

As a lifelong Whatcom County resident, graduate of Western Washington University, the FBI Academy and the DEA Training Institute, Doug knows our community and has the ability and skills to ensure continued best practices, professionalism, public safety and meet future challenges.

Bill Elfo




Another AWOL lazy voter seeks your vote!

You really can’t make this stuff up.

Mark Stremler is running for Whatcom County Council in District 4 (Lynden and surroundings). Mark is running as the rock-ribbed MAGA uber-conservative whom his district should trust and have confidence in. And who will work hard for his $90,000 annual council compensation package.

Well, let’s see about Stremler’s civic record.

In 2014, when the late Doug Ericksen was running against Bellingham’s Seth Fleetwood for state senate, did Stremler bother to vote? No, Stremler did not, neither primary nor general. Also left without Stremler’s help were Luanne Van Werven and Vincent Buys (for state House).

In 2015, during the crucial county redistricting vote, did Stremler even bother to vote? No, he did not. Irony is that without that vote to approve district-only seats, Stremler would have no viable path to council! And nor did Stremler do so much as mark a ballot for fellow conservative Jack Louws for executive, nor for Sheriff Bill Elfo’s new jail.

In 2016, Stremler could not be bothered to vote in the local primary or in the presidential primary.

In 2017, voter Stremler was AWOL. Stood by as Elfo’s jail again went down. Also failed to show up for his fellow conservatives Mary Kay Robinson (council at-large), Dan Robbins (port commissioner) and Ken Bell (port commissioner).

Remarkable that Stremler, with his abysmal record of civic laziness, has the gall to ask voters to spend north of $90,000 for him to govern them.

Caveat emptor!

Abe Jacobsen




One of the best ways to evaluate candidates is to look at the people and organizations endorsing them. We may not have known the candidate for long, but we have trusted some leaders and groups for many years. 

Doug Chadwick, a 29-year Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office veteran, is currently undersheriff and is running for Whatcom County sheriff. He has one of the most diverse and impressive endorsements ever. He is endorsed by current Sheriff Bill Elfo and our previous two sheriffs. Longtime Whatcom County Prosecuting Attorney Dave McEachran endorses Doug Chadwick. Six active or retired police chiefs in Whatcom County also support him, as do many others in law enforcement. 

Labor is a big backer of Doug Chadwick, endorsed by the Northwest Washington Central Labor Council and Teamsters Local 231/Joint Council 28. Other respected groups endorsing him are the Whatcom County Association of Realtors, the Whatcom County Farm Bureau, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 24 and the Associated General Contractors of Washington. 

Elected officials who endorse Doug Chadwick include former Whatcom County Executive Jack Louws (2012-2019), Port of Bellingham Commissioner Ken Bell, three county council members, and four mayors in Whatcom County. 

Please join all of them and me in voting for Doug Chadwick for Whatcom County sheriff in the Nov. 7 general election. 

Kendra Cook




Nobody trusts a traitor — even one who has “defected” to your side. Folks will always wonder if someone who has once betrayed their loyalties will do so again. Having served their usefulness, they are usually quietly eliminated.

Whether you consider Matt Gaetz and his hardliners disruptors, or patriots, they acted “according to their nature.” Kevin McCarthy learned the hard way the parable of the Scorpion and the Frog.

The idea of a power-sharing leadership team sounds intriguing. Or, since the Constitution does not specifically require the Speaker to be an incumbent member of the House, conscript an elder statesman/diplomat (emeritus?) who has served both Republican and Democratic administrations.

I can also see a Liz Cheney-type succeeding in the role. Hmm, were Jimmy Carter to enter the Chamber, his mere presence would have the Lord-of-the-Flies effect: A British officer’s arrival on a deserted island stops stranded children, who have descended into savagery, from killing each other with pointed sticks.

They’ve four weeks to sort this out. If the government shuts down and people go without paychecks, we might see a real (and deserved!) Capitol Riot.

Omar Firestone




A recent well-written letter to Cascadia Daily News supported the jail/tax ballot proposal. The final paragraph included the following: 

“The circumstances are much more complex and systemic than jail opponents would have one believe. To adopt a simplistic ideological position of ‘prisons don’t work’ without offering alternatives grounded in reality [isn’t good].” 

OK, fair enough. But substituting “proponents” for “opponents” in the first sentence and “prisons do work” for “prisons don’t work” in the second offers an opposite argument. Only two words, “opponents” and “don’t,” are changed.  

Both arguments make at least some sense. Which one makes the most sense is what Whatcom County voters — myself included — need to decide. 

John Whitmer




We believe our city needs stronger and more decisive leadership to confront the changes and challenges facing us. Kim Lund has demonstrated the ability to consider alternatives, listen to differing points of view, determine the best course of action and implement the plan. 

As demonstrated in her previous leadership positions, Kim is a great listener, team builder, and communicator who develops metrics, reports results and makes adjustments as needed to achieve the goal. Most importantly, in dynamic situations, Kim is skilled in ascertaining if new and additional solutions or resources are needed to meet emerging needs. 

We urge the voters to join us to elect Kim Lund the next mayor of Bellingham. 

Carol and Ray Dellecker




One only has to look at his resume to know that Seth Fleetwood is the mayor for this moment. We live in challenging times … times when we need an experienced person at the helm. Among his many leadership accomplishments is Greenways, one of the best trail systems in the country. 

Seth also sponsored and co-founded the countywide Housing Affordability Task Force, which resulted in recommendations that included the creation of a Bellingham Home Fund. When Lake Whatcom, our precious drinking water, was deteriorating, Seth drafted and sponsored the resolution and funding amendment for the Comprehensive Stormwater Management Plan for Lake Whatcom. These are only samples of the breadth of his leadership — leadership that is needed now.

The floods, fires, warming temperatures and influx of “climate refugees” to our city tell us that the biggest challenge is ahead. Global warming is here and Seth has worked toward mitigation of it for years. As mayor, he inaugurated a climate task force and hired a climate director to manage its recommendations. 

He is working now on an Innovation Corridor between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, as he believes the best path to success for Bellingham between these two cities is to work collaboratively, sharing goodwill and good green energy ideas.

Throughout his public career, Seth has never lost sight of his goal to help make Bellingham equitable, thriving and sustainable for all its citizens. Please vote Seth Fleetwood for mayor.

Jayne Freudenberger 



Bill Elfo is stepping down after 20 years as sheriff of Whatcom County and two candidates are vying to replace him.  One has been serving under him for his entire law enforcement career.

The other, Donnell Tanksley, currently serves as Blaine’s police chief and has a work and educational background that includes extensive human resource management and criminal justice experience in multiple settings. He supports a new jail that helps combat recidivism by providing services, training and diversion programs to reintegrate people into the community. He advocates for mental health training for all sheriff deputies to learn how to de-escalate situations and to understand different people in the community that might be experiencing trauma. He proposes a tribal liaison officer to work with Indigenous communities, and community advisory boards to help direct future jail planning. 

We have the opportunity to elect a new sheriff with a wealth of law enforcement experience and training and an openness to criminal justice reforms that include individual rehabilitation and community participation and wellness. I appreciate Chief Tanksley stepping forward to articulate positive directions for the office of Whatcom County sheriff. He has my vote.  

Judy Bush

Lummi Island


Twenty years ago, Poland joined the European Union, the Concorde made its last flight, and our current sheriff was appointed to his position.  

Our county jail was 19 years old. The jail has not aged well since. The need for a new jail has been used to justify a bigger jail at taxpayer expense. Luckily, the voters will get to decide on the new jail proposal as well as who will be at the helm. It is a choice between the same policies of the last 20 years or an imminently qualified law enforcement officer, Blaine Police Chief Donnell Tanksley. Chief Tanksley will reduce crime, lower incarceration and recidivism rates, and run a transparent sheriff’s office. Please vote Nov. 7 for Chief Tanksley.

Thomas Brakke



Ralph Schwartz’s report titled “Affordable housing among candidates’ top concerns” is a fairly insightful and useful piece of journalism except for one unfortunate transposition.

When discussing the candidates for Bellingham mayor, Schwartz writes the following about Kim Lund: “…the city could be doing more to encourage homebuilding…” and mentions that one of her ideas is to lower fees on developers. Then Schwartz immediately disputes her idea by citing the city’s website saying lowering fees doesn’t “guarantee” lower home prices. 

Did Lund say lowering fees would guarantee lower home prices? Of course she didn’t. CDN is a great community resource, but that was an unacceptable error.

Lincoln Vander Veen


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to, due Tuesdays at 10 a.m. Rules: Maximum 250 words, have a point and make it clearly. CDN reserves the right to edit letters for length, clarity, grammar and style, and personal attacks or offensive content. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer’s identity (not for publication).

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