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CDN Voter Guide 2023

Endorsement summary, candidate responses to Citizens Agenda questions

By CDN Staff

Welcome to the online version of the 2023 Cascadia Daily News Voter Guide to the Nov. 7 general election.

Since its inception in January 2022, CDN has put local election coverage at the top of its agenda. This comes in two forms: election stories reported and captured visually by our news staff, and opinion pieces contributed by the executive editor, a broad array of guest columnists, and you, our readers, via a constant flow of engaging letters to the editor.

CDN greatly appreciates the robust public participation.

Our news and opinion coverage converges via CDN’s award-winning Citizens Agenda project, which seeks to provide “reader-powered election coverage by letting voters guide discussion topics for our coverage.” We’re pleased to make much of this information available as a public service in a single package, the Voter Guide.

The product is the result of months of reporting and analysis by CDN’s newsroom, but also the result of active participation of our readership.

For the second consecutive year, CDN in July issued a call for reader responses to the Citizens Agenda’s simple prompt: What do you want candidates to be talking about as they compete for votes? Readers submitted questions, then voted for their top questions grouped in three subject categories: local government, crime and justice and education.

The selected reader questions for local government and law and justice were put directly to candidates subject to CDN endorsement interviews; their answers are published online. Education questions helped guide CDN’s school board election coverage.

The questions also served as a baseline for our separate news-reporting process, providing guidance for issues-related news stories that reveal candidates’ stances on what matters most to local residents.

CDN was honored to receive first place in the Washington Newspaper Publishers Association’s Community Service awards for the 2022 Citizens Agenda project. We plan to continue the program, which this year included the addition of publicly available videos of our editorial board’s interviews with select candidates in coming elections.

Thanks to all who participated, and welcome to all readers new to this process. As an independent, locally owned news organization seeking to become a lasting community institution, we are open to collaborations with other groups seeking to enhance public discourse as a key to preserving effective representative democracy.

—Ron Judd, executive editor;

CDN endorses

CDN’s editorial endorsements are in keeping with a long tradition of independent news sources weighing in on important local election choices. Read about the guiding principles of our endorsement process here.

‘Yes’ on Prop 4, Whatcom County Jail/services tax: It’s the first, best exit off the road to a humanitarian crisis 
Read the endorsement here.

Whatcom County executive: Satpal Sidhu
Read the endorsement here.

Bellingham mayor: Seth Fleetwood
Read the endorsement here.

Whatcom County Council at-large: Jon Scanlon
Read the endorsement here.

Whatcom County sheriff: Donnell “Tank” Tanksley
Read the endorsement here.

Candidate profiles

Read about county executive candidate Satpal Sidhu here.

Read about county executive candidate Dan Purdy here.

Read about Bellingham mayor candidate Seth Fleetwood here.

Read about Bellingham mayor candidate Kim Lund here

Read about Whatcom County sheriff candidate Donnell Tanksley here.

Read about Whatcom County sheriff candidate Doug Chadwick here.

Citizens Agenda top questions

Read candidates’ answers to Citizens Agenda questions here.

Question #1 (Homelessness)
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?

Question #2 (Lake Whatcom)
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? 

Question #3 (PeaceHealth services/local control)
Because PeaceHealth continues to cut services, what will you do to ensure that PeaceHealth 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?  (Editor’s note: PeaceHealth announced Sept. 1 their palliative care program will be reinstated in early 2024.) 

Question #4 (PeaceHealth tax-exempt status)
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?  

Question #5 (Affordable housing)
How should we create more affordable housing in Whatcom County? 

Question #6 (Community-based services)
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)? 

Question #7 (New jail)
Will you support building a new jail in Whatcom County? And why? 

Question #8 (Law enforcement training)
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? 

Other election coverage

Stakes are high in this odd-year election: Whatcom County voters to decide jail measure, key offices

Could giving cash to homeless people reduce the problem?

Protect Lake Whatcom with more land acquisition, homeowner help

Frustration with PeaceHealth has become a political issue

Affordable housing strategies: stabilize rents, add density

Partisan politics are infiltrating school boards — Whatcom County isn’t spared

Candidates hope to turn campaign dollars into votes

Minimum wage hike, renter relocation assistance up to voters

Whatcom County candidates state their cases at forum

Whatcom jail proposal leaves voters with questions

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