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Letters to the Editor, Week of Oct. 18, 2023

Several thousand election thoughts, mandatory service and child chocolate labor


Thank you to every candidate who is running for public office. I appreciate your willingness to serve our community. It is commendable and brave.

Every elected official gets credit and criticism. Those who served us during the pandemic were extraordinarily challenged. I believe their goals for our county and city were thwarted by the immediate need to manage the unprecedented. Obviously, they possess the resilience necessary to prevail under the worst of circumstances. Their experience and willingness to continue to serve our community are unsurpassable.

I support the reelection of county Executive Satpal Sidhu and Mayor Seth Fleetwood.

Virginia Watson



I cannot imagine a better person than Kim Lund for Bellingham mayor.

Kim’s warmth, curiosity and optimism are striking. She has a robust moral compass — but many of us do. What I find extraordinary is how directly that internal compass drives her life’s work. When local communities were threatened with a coal terminal at Cherry Point, Kim joined the collective effort to surface its actual environmental, health and economic costs, spending months with CommunityWise Bellingham analyzing technical documents. She took on leadership of the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation because it wasn’t enough to meet her own children’s needs — she believed every school child in our community deserved nurture. She serves on the county planning commission because she believes the exacting work of constructing sound land-use policy is a civic responsibility.

Kim has told me she thinks countering climate change is one of our greatest moral imperatives. She’s running for mayor because she believes cities have the obligation, agency and power to take on society’s thorniest challenges. She believes City Hall can, and must, act with transparency, urgency and efficiency. In situations that feel overwhelming, I’ve seen her rise to the moment over and over, bringing energy and inspiration to drive transformation.

Kim brings nonprofit executive and private-sector managerial experience, an engineer’s brain, keen intellect and endless compassion to the mayor’s office. I’ve known her as a dear friend and as a community champion for children, equity and the environment. I cannot wait to call her my mayor. 

Sati Mookherjee



I am writing to express my enthusiastic support for the reelection of Bellingham City Council member Dan Hammill. As one of Bellingham’s most tenured council members, he continues to work tirelessly on the citizens’ behalf with almost a decade of service in Ward 3. 

A strong supporter of your local firefighters, Dan not only advocates for the continued operational improvements that ensure a timely response to your emergencies, but he has also been at the forefront of adapting to the changing needs of our community. Dan emerged in the creation of our Community Paramedic, in part with the GRACE program (Ground-level Response and Coordinated Engagement), one of the first mobile integrated health units in our region. This immeasurable, positive impact on our city’s fire/EMS services shows Dan’s commitment to getting the appropriate resources to the highest utilizers of the 911 system. 

Please join your local firefighters in reelecting Dan Hammill for Bellingham City Council Ward 3. 

Tony Melillo, IAFF L106 PAC Chair, Bellingham/Whatcom County Firefighters


I’m writing as part of our community, a community that believes every person, without exception, deserves the security and dignity of a place to call home. This belief unites us all, regardless of our race or background.

As we confront our housing challenges, let’s remember the shared values that bond us. Whether we’re Black, white, Latino, Asian, or from any background, we all want a stable, affordable place to live. 

The problem is clear: Our fellow Bellingham residents face homelessness, and that’s something none of us should tolerate. Most of us know someone struggling with rising rents, and this crisis is a major driver of rising homelessness. Our focus must be on solutions. We can’t afford to dwell on problems; instead, we should take positive action.

Sixty-eight percent of renting seniors in Bellingham are rent-burdened and are at risk of falling into homelessness. If we want to slow down the 141% increase in the number of homeless seniors, we need to act. Initiative No. 2 will provide a safety net for those affected by profit-driven extreme rent hikes, while still allowing for rent increases.

I urge you to vote yes on Initiative No. 2. It’s about realizing our shared value that every person and family should have a place to call home.

Let’s stand united and ensure that every Bellingham resident can enjoy the security and comfort of a home. Initiative No. 2 is our chance to do just that. Vote yes and make a difference.

Kerri Burnside



City employees are fully committed to serving the people of Bellingham. 

As presidents of unions representing Bellingham firefighters, police officers and non-uniformed employees of the city, we ask you to join us in voting for Kim Lund for mayor.

Unions representing more than 82% of city employees have endorsed Kim. 

It can be risky for employees to endorse the candidate opposing an incumbent mayor. We don’t take this risk lightly.

In contrast to what Mayor Fleetwood said at City Club recently, our endorsement followed our normal endorsement process. This process is representative democracy in action. The majority voted to support Kim Lund for mayor. It was not, as he said, a vote of three or five people!

Our groups independently endorsed Kim Lund. While the reasons for endorsement varied between groups, our conclusion about who can best lead Bellingham is unanimous. 

Kim’s vision for Bellingham is inclusive, pragmatic, action-oriented and optimistic. Our members want to meaningfully contribute to a better Bellingham. With Kim Lund’s leadership and vision, we will!

We are professionals and will always do our jobs. But, Kim’s strong vision and leadership would boost employee morale and yield far more for the community.

Jael Komac, President, Local 1937 — Guild of Pacific Northwest Employees


I was extremely disappointed to see your endorsement of Proposition 4, the jail tax, on this November’s ballot. Perhaps what is most distressing is that even its proponents admit to serious problems with the proposal, yet still believe we should vote for it as if it is our only choice. It is not our only choice. And we cannot simply acquiesce to politicians, law enforcement and other self-interested parties who have worked for years to push us into voting for something we have repeatedly said we don’t want. 

If those proponents of this jail truly cared about those living inside, they would have begun making plans 10 years ago to address the issue. When we first voted down this jail tax levy in 2015, and then again in 2017, they could have looked for alternatives to building a new, larger jail in a more remote location. And now, they want us to trust them with a blank check for the next 30 years? Let’s be clear, there are no guarantees of services in this proposal. The only guarantee is that a new, larger jail will be built with public funds, committing us to a future of more incarceration in our community and a maxed-out tax structure for public safety.

Are we really willing to lock ourselves into expanding incarceration in this county for decades to come, knowing its immense negative impacts? If they truly wanted to support services, we’d be voting on an increase to our behavior health sales tax. 

Theresa Warburton



I am a downtown business owner with a request: Vote Kim Lund for mayor.  While I live in the county, I spend more time than I care to admit at my office.  

I observe a new kind of leadership developing in Bellingham. It is centered on community, belonging and compassion — informed by data, analysis and committed to transparency. This exciting leadership made the Children’s Initiative a reality.

As I see disparities and disagreements in our city, the need for transparent leadership focused on community, inclusion and compassion, with rigorous analysis of results, is essential. 

I continue to reflect on Kim’s vision. Kim knows we must never lose our compassion for community members who are suffering (the homeless, addicted and mentally ill) because the external impact of this suffering is exhausting and sometimes scary. Kim, with her engineer hat on, said “fail forward” — meaning don’t be afraid to take bold action, create a plan, implement, evaluate and course-correct as needed. She also said — and this blew my mind — “lead with love.” My takeaways: plan, action, analysis, course correction and love. I’m in! 

I am grateful for Mayor Fleetwood’s service. I appreciate city employees who work hard, rarely receiving deserved credit. My support for Kim does not diminish my appreciation.

We have the opportunity for a new kind of leadership to address problems threatening who we are as a community. It’s time to say thank you with gratitude and embrace the opportunity we have — be the very best Bellingham.

Kirsten Barron




Bellingham was fortunate to have an experienced leader at the helm when COVID hit right after Mayor Seth Fleetwood took office in 2020. Imagine how much more challenging our community’s experience would have been if people unfamiliar with government function were in charge during one of the most difficult periods in Bellingham history. 

That level of experience still matters. In the mayor’s race, we have a choice between one person with many years of governmental experience, including four years of running our current city administration, and a second candidate with no elected or government experience whatsoever. We should be clear — running a good, but small foundation with a handful of employees, and running a city government consisting of 1,000 employees, multiple departments, and a $400 million budget are not remotely comparable.

Ask the people who are most familiar with running the city, in all its complexity: those who have had the experience of doing so. The majority of former Bellingham mayors support Seth Fleetwood. The majority of current Bellingham City Council members also support Seth, as does the current county executive, and numerous former city and county council members. We should listen to the recommendations of these well-respected leaders. They know what this position entails and they know that Seth is the most capable candidate for the job.

Seth Fleetwood, along with Satpal Sidhu, Dan Hammill and Hannah Stone, have done an admirable job in office under extremely difficult circumstances and they deserve your support. Experience really does matter!

Margo Malone




I couldn’t believe CDN endorsed Seth Fleetwood over Kim Lund. Initially, I was going to vote for Mayor Fleetwood based on some of the same reasons CDN endorsed him such as experience and the COVID difficulty at the beginning of his term. 

However, I remembered how the city had continued to experience increased crimes and drug use during the pandemic and the mayor could not seem to find a permanent police chief. I watched as Bellingham suffered and it took Mayor Fleetwood two years to make a decision. I think his decision for chief was a good one, but two years? 

He also took a great deal of time to select a city manager, but finally selected Blake Lyon. While Mr. Lyon may be greatly qualified, he signed off on the zoning request for the ABC metal pile at the Port [of Bellingham] which completely altered the city master plan for the waterfront. He did this after being newly hired and on the recommendation of the previous acting director. Even though new, he should have taken the time to review and understand what was being requested instead of just signing off on a request that so impacts the future of Bellingham.

These decisions make me wonder about the mayor’s decision-making and the timeliness of his decisions. I will be voting for Kim Lund. 

Susan Salyer




I don’t want to alarm anyone, but there’s an anachronism in our midst. 

I’m not referring to the ghost signs in Old Town; I’m referring to CDN’s practice of endorsing candidates. 

Such endorsements have a long history in newspaper journalism, so I’m not surprised that CDN picks favorites. To be sure, CDN makes editorial endorsements about as well as they can be made. The paper discloses its decision-making process, and the board includes a nonvoting advisory member who referees the discussion and prevents conflicts of interest. 

Nevertheless, I think these endorsements mar your paper’s otherwise fine election coverage. 

Editorial endorsements have always struck me as having an unseemly thumb-on-the-scale quality at odds with what I understand the journalist’s role to be: ferreting out the truth of a given issue and striving, imperfectly but nobly, to place those facts before citizens, trusting them to use the information as they will. Editorial endorsements undermine this project. They carry a whiff of paternalism, a suspicion that voters cannot be trusted to make good decisions. 

What’s more, editorial endorsements relieve citizens of the responsibility to think for themselves. This is hard work. As Thomas Edison once said, “There is no expedient to which a man will not resort to avoid the real labor of thinking.” Does CDN want to be such an expedient? In our polarized times, voters already rely on too many heuristics that short-circuit the effortful work of discovering who candidates are, what they believe, and what their records imply for the jobs they hope to win. 

Already CDN resists some of the worst tendencies of our time: clickbait, the ephemerality of “content,” the unhealthy obsession with celebrity gossip and D.C. palace intrigue. Received wisdom, too, is a current worth rowing against. 

Michael Hughes




This letter is to give you my recommendation to vote for Dan Hammill for Bellingham City Council in this year’s general election. It is because “experience matters.”

He has served on the council for more than eight years and has helped provide leadership in such important matters as affordable housing, public safety and homelessness. He is committed to our community and brings his skills to help work on our challenging issues. His door is always open. These issues are complicated and there are no easy solutions. I have known Dan for many years; his commitment to our community is boundless. Your vote would help him to continue this important work.  

Debbie Adelstein, retired county auditor



Hi and good afternoon, my name is Derek Gremban, and I am a member of the Whatcom County Council Climate Impacts Advisory Committee.  

I wanted to send a letter of support for Ben Elenbaas to be reelected to the Whatcom County Council. I have known Ben for more than 10 years professionally and personally and have always been impressed by Ben’s pragmatic and down-to-earth approach. As a member of the Whatcom County Climate Impacts Advisory Committee, I appreciate when we have representation that understands all of the aspects of what it takes to pull together a comprehensive plan that will work.

I think Ben’s background of his education mixed with his professional experience in the energy industry makes him an ideal candidate to represent us and help drive the right kinds of change to meet the demands of the current day. Ben has also always been an extremely welcoming person; when I first joined his team, I remember he was the first person who, unprompted, came to me and made me feel at home and included. His ability to be pragmatic mixed with down-to-earth real experience and a welcoming approach makes him ideal for Whatcom County.  

Thanks for taking the time to read my message!

Derek Gremban




As a local high school student and lifelong resident of Bellingham, this community is really important to me. Although I may not be old enough to vote yet, I know how important strong leadership is. That’s why I’m supporting Mayor Seth Fleetwood for reelection. 

Seth’s prior experience in both the city and county councils gives him the experience and knowledge to lead our city effectively, and he has definitely proven he can do so. Seth has been a fighter for us since day one. He’s worked to combat climate change, end the epidemic of public drug use, create more affordable housing for our people, and so much more. 

Also, Seth’s endorsements speak for themselves. He is endorsed by a wide range of local leaders, community members, and organizations including U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, State Rep. Alex Ramel, county Executive Satpal Sidhu, four city council members, Washington Conservation Action, Whatcom Democratic Women, Planned Parenthood, the Lummi Indian Business Council, FairVote Washington, the 42nd legislative district Democrats, and many more. 

Our city is truly one of the most special places on the planet. We have a robust local economy, amazing people, and incredible natural beauty. We deserve a mayor with the knowledge and experience to lead our city forward, and I know Seth is the person to do so. 

I know I would cast my ballot for Seth if I could. I highly encourage you to vote for Seth Fleetwood for mayor of Bellingham. 

Ellis Hawkins




If you care about housing, reducing incarceration, protecting Lake Whatcom, racial justice or women’s rights, Dan Hammill is an ally for your values. He is the most productive council member on these issues and deserves to be reelected. 

Dan has been on the forefront of protecting tenant rights and pushing to build more affordable housing in Bellingham. He led efforts to bring programs that work, such as Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD) and the Anne Deacon Center for Hope, to meet people where they are with services and help, instead of incarceration. 

He started an Alternative Response Team so people in crisis have an alternative to 911. Dan led the ban on single-use plastics and protection for Galbraith Mountain. He sponsored a resolution to support women’s access to reproductive care and was the lead council member in declaring racism a public health crisis. 

Dan isn’t the kind of person who screams “look at me.” He does this work quietly and intentionally. You could call his style effective, subdued excitement. He has certainly earned four more years. 

Sharon Shewmake




Recently, I had the privilege of spending a few hours with Hannah Ordos, candidate for county council. Not knowing what to expect, I was in for a pleasant surprise in meeting a middle-aged mom who had been attending county council meetings for the past few years. A graduate of Nooksack Valley High School and Western Washington University, she was raised in Whatcom County, just west of Sumas. The Ordos’s go back four generations. She is one of us!  

Clear-eyed, bright and well-schooled, she will approach the job just right of center, even-handed, willing to listen — qualities lacking in our polarized politics. She’s running for the at-large position, meaning those candidates represent our entire county.

By contrast, candidate Jon Scanlon appears to be eager to represent only the county liberals. Further, his roots are not in our county, having moved here just five years ago. He’s a “Johnny-come-lately.”  

I’m fond of the concept of prudence. In political terms, that translates to “a public measure ought to be judged by its probable long-run consequences, not merely by temporary advantage or popularity.” (Russell Kirk). Hannah has that temperament, not confined to the fringe, but earnest, thoughtful and principled.

She is just the kind of public servant we need on our county council. 

Ron Polinder




My reservations about Proposition 4 are not about our health, safety and justice problems, or the relative merits of the solutions being proposed, they are about process and communication.  

Lynden Mayor Korthius (CDN, Sept. 22, 2023) states “the controversy is simply mired in numbers, misinformation and lack of education.” On the contrary, there is controversy because of a lack of numerical transparency, this misinformation is actually an ongoing argument about the merits of the solutions proposed and the lack of education is evidence of communication failure.

1. Prop 4 discusses funding for existing services and a new jail, plus new services and facilities. The mayor discusses only a cost for the jail. Where are projections for new services costs (assuming costs for existing services are funded by existing revenue) and capital costs for other new facilities?  

2. Prop 4 proposes a sales and use tax. A bond is appropriate for funding capital assets, but Prop 4 is silent on a bond for these new facilities. The mayor acknowledges an intended bond but quantifies it as “comfortable” after diversion of the cities’ share of a portion of the tax. Does the Prop only tell us half the story? What happens if the voters approve the tax but not the “comfortable” bond when asked?  

3. Why doesn’t the Whatcom County Council share with us a projection of these new tax revenues and the bond against the suggested cost projections? It may demonstrate that the financing plan is viable, and even suggest a sunset date for the tax. 

Without answers to these questions, how to justify any vote other than “no.”

Roger Griffin




Because Halloween is approaching, we want to inform you about child labor and slavery in many popular Halloween chocolates and candies. While kids are trick-or-treating at your doors, 152 million children are slaving away in child labor. More than 1.5 million are in the chocolate industry. One in 10 children worldwide are involved in child labor. These kids work up to 16 hours a day with little to no breaks or food. They work with hazardous chemicals, drugs and machinery.

Many children who are in the child labor industry come from poverty-stricken places, are struggling to survive and their families need money. These children then go out into the world to find jobs, and a lot of times, these kids are trafficked into indentured servitude.

Many people believe that the government and large companies have the power, but the fact is simple. Companies don’t produce products that people don’t buy. So, as long as people still buy child labor chocolate and candy, they will produce it.

As an example, in Europe, large companies like Nestle are forced to make fair trade products because people won’t buy anything else.

Nestle, Hershey and Mars have all faced child labor lawsuits, as well as the numerous companies they own, including KitKat, Smarties, Jolly Rancher, Twizzlers, Mr. Goodbar, Reese’s, Almond Joy, Heath, Milk Duds, Payday, Whoppers, Mounds, York, Dove, M&M, Snickers, Milky Way, Twix, 3 Musketeers, Starburst and Skittles. 

Please, join hands against child labor and purchase fair trade chocolate.

Jonna Gillham and Julia Wolgamot, eighth graders, Fairhaven Middle School



As a 19-year-old, I did not appreciate being called up by my country to fight in an unjust war in Vietnam, but I went because I was not ready to denounce my citizenship. The things I saw while in service are forever cemented in my mind and have informed my politics and understanding of our country’s complicated history. 

Unfortunately, today we do not have a draft that forces our youth to be engaged in either history, politics and adult self-sacrifice for our nation’s ideals. They know the all-volunteer warrior class will pay the price of liberty while they continue to enjoy the freedoms that are taken for granted.

At minimum, we need a mandatory one-year national service commitment to spur our youth to understand serious history and literature and be engaged citizens. 

Many youth today view the system of service in the military in Israel as regressive. But such a system in this country would mean our youth would be more engaged, aware and vocal about wrong-headed escapades and the type of dilettante political leadership running rampant today. Then patriotism would be more than esoteric emotions in song or movies and extremist movements like the modern MAGA/GOP nonsense would be seen for the dark side it represents.

Michael Waite




Thirty years ago, the Washington Department of Ecology (DOE) initiated a water resources inventory of the Nooksack basin. Simultaneously, DOE facilitated roundtable discussions including caucuses of farmers, water resource providers, the construction industry and environmentalists. I was selected to represent the environmental caucus. With the Nooksack River chinook salmon threatened with extinction, there was a sense of urgency to our work. 

Hovering around the roundtable process were professional troublemakers looking for an opportunity to make money by drumming up resentment against the tribes. Water rights law is “first in time, first in line.” Since Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Indian Tribe have been here for 500 generations, they are by far the senior water rights holders. Treaty rights under federal law are considered property rights. The salmon are the tribes’ property.

In 2018, the Center for World Indigenous Studies (CWIS) in Olympia published my six-part report, “Anti-Indian Movement,” documenting organized racism in Whatcom County 2013–17. As a think tank established by leaders from the National Congress of American Indians and the Assembly of First Nations (Canada), CWIS conducts research to advise tribes.

Water rights adjudication for the Nooksack basin begins in 2024.

Jay Taber




A short time ago, I watched a YouTube video of a Black man being stopped by state police — around 12 of them. Everyone was shouting orders and the man didn’t know which to follow: Hands up!, Don’t move! On the ground! Even I was confused, without being under terrific stress like he was — a Black man being drawn on by a dozen or so cops. He was shot and killed.

I wrote Chief Tanksley about this and asked if he would apply the policy that only the senior officer give commands when making a stop, to hold confusion and injury to a minimum. He answered promptly and told me the Blaine Police Department had that policy in place and even sent me a copy of the law. He also said he would absolutely introduce and enforce that rule if elected our sheriff.

That sort of response is what I want to see in an elected official. I imagine you want that, too.

“Tank” has experience way over and above what his opponent has; three states, university-level policing and being chief of Blaine police. Plus, his honorable service in the U.S. military.

His opponent? Well, he’s been Bill Elfo’s undersheriff for four years. He understands that improving the conditions of the lives of people reduces crime. I believe I’ll cast my vote for wide experience and a man who understands the need to help, and not simply incarcerate. I hope you will, too.

Gary Meader




As we’re driving around the city and county this month, we see yellow school buses on the road as a reminder not only to pay attention to our driving habits but know it’s a sign that school is in session.

More than 1,600 students in need in Whatcom County have the joy of wearing new school outfits provided through the Assistance League of Bellingham’s Operation School Bell program.

We recently received a personal comment from a school counselor that we would like to share with you:

“I took a new student in our district shopping and his younger sisters also happened to be there with him. The whole family came together to pick out items for their oldest brother/son and found joy in picking out new warm clothes. What I found to be particularly delightful about that experience was that at our last Operation School Bell clothing, his younger sisters and brother, got to shop and he was pushing the cart and helping them pick out new clothing. Their mom continually thanked me for making the connection to Operation School Bell and Teen Team. Being able to immediately show families and students how we can support them with new clothes is such a great way to begin building a relationship with them. Thank you for that opportunity.”

Thank you for your support and the purchases you make in our Thrift & Gift Shop that allow us to accomplish this important work. 

Helen Moran




Seth Fleetwood deserves to be reelected to a second term as mayor of Bellingham. After the murder of George Floyd in May 2020, protesters here, most of them relatively young, marched in the rain to City Hall, occupied the foyer and called Mayor Fleetwood out of his office. They expressed exasperation and anger at not being heard regarding their concerns about what they regarded as racism across American social, economic and political institutions.

The mayor heard the protesters out, beginning a process in which a public “Listening Series on Racial Justice” on Zoom were organized late in the summer of 2020. As one of the community leaders who worked collaboratively with Seth and county Executive Satpal Sidhu to roll out those sessions, I’d say the mayor’s earnestness and patience in listening was commendable.

Subsequently, in May 2021, a Racial Equity Summit led by young activists attracted more than 200 community members. That led to the impaneling of more than 30 community stakeholders tasked with crafting an ordinance to go before the county council and Bellingham City Council to create a racial equity commission.

That ordinance passed in October 2022. For a city nearing 100,000 in population and a county approaching a quarter of a million, neither of whose governments has even a civil rights desk, it is high time that an institution addressing racial equity be created. An appointment committee of which I am a member is presently preparing the process for appointing commissioners and an executive director.

Without Seth Fleetwood’s patience, foresight and, yes, listening ability, the process of creating the much-needed Whatcom Racial Equity Commission might never have taken off.

Vernon Damani Johnson




The Hammer announced that the AI-created avatar, Rod Junn (T)-Timbits for all, quit the mayoral race. A good call — it could have caused a costly three-way race for the job. Certainly Mayor Seth would have had to go back to more family members for additional funding.

Rod did have some interesting platform ideas. The giant blowup primate hanging from a radio tower pointing an angry finger at Canada is a keeper. Certainly, Saturday visits to Costco would be much more pleasant and the van would suffer less parking lot abuse. But we’ll miss the cool campaign merch: “Who’s Rod Junn” coffee mugs; “Timbits for all” bumper stickers. And don’t forget the T-shirts stenciled with the smiling “iconic” poop plant photo of you-know-who wearing a hard hat and shades.

Mr. Junn (T)-Timbits for all, might check out the U.S. House of Representatives. They’re hiring. An AI figure roaming the floor of Congress, wielding a mallet couldn’t inflict much more damage than already done there anyway.

So, who to support? While I sincerely believe Mayor Fleetwood has handled serious problems well in his tenure, (and should also be recognized for his generous service to the community) it’s also apparent that he and other long-term city (and county council) members have become politically long of tooth. 

With the large city and county capital investments that are proposed, it’s time for fresh ideas, management style and solid engineering qualifications. 

Thus, I’m voting for Kim Lund for mayor.

Bob Morton




I write in support of Kim Lund for mayor! I have known Kim since she was my student in Advanced Spanish and it has been a pleasure to see her journey of service, hard work and community support for Bellingham. 

Kim is a strong, capable woman — traits I want to see in our city government. Her work with school and the environment is admirable, and her understanding of the special needs of Bellingham makes her someone we should all support! Kim brings a fresh, no-nonsense approach which is enhanced by her ability to respond to all her constituents and do her homework to completely understand the issues.

Kim and her family are connected to our community in so many ways, and her love of the Pacific Northwest is clear and respectful of our future. I highly endorse Kim and hope she will be embraced and elected by all Bellinghamsters!

Emily Diaz Flynn, former Sehome High School Spanish teacher



I’m Bobby Briscoe, Port Commissioner, commercial fisherman and longtime resident of District 5 — the coastal district. I’ve put pen to paper in support of Ben Elenbaas for Whatcom County Council District 5. 

Political groups in Whatcom County and beyond have taken aim at Ben’s seat for all the wrong reasons. His opponent told me in a recent phone conversation that she was running to create a super majority by claiming Ben’s seat. Is that what the people of Whatcom County deserve? 

A super majority that can push any agenda through, skipping public input. A super majority on the council serves a select few and leaves chaos in its wake. Ben has served in this position for years, creating security and balance in local government, something that is scarce today. 

He is hardworking as a farmer, a BP employee and as a council member working for the people of Whatcom County. Ben has good common sense, and it shows in his decision-making. He does not take a political agenda to his nonpartisan position. 

Ben is well-educated and brings valuable real-life experience to his representation of the people in Whatcom County. Join me in voting for Ben — he works hard for everyone, not just a privileged few with a political agenda.

Bobby Briscoe



Public safety, stewardship of our land, respecting taxpayer dollars and promoting living wage jobs are issues voters care about not just currently but throughout election cycles for decades.

District 5 candidate Ben Elenbaas represents these values not just from his seat in council chambers but also from his real-life experience. He farms the land, works a living wage job and votes on issues that come before him with careful consideration.

It’s true he has more “no” votes than other council members. What I’ve observed is that he carefully considers what he might be giving up, as our advocate, if he says yes to every special-interest group making a request. I’ve seen him vote no when a request lacks the important detail needed to instill trust. Ben says no while others push these requests through without transparency. 

His opponent works for a shellfish company and brings no experience to the county council position. In fact, at a League of Women Voters forum, her answer to solving food insecurity, which so many of our friends and neighbors are experiencing, was to have farmers give food to the food bank. When asked about zoning she couldn’t even form an answer.

There are no simple answers to complex problems and toxic polarization feeds on simplicity. Join me in voting to reelect Ben Elenbaas on Nov. 7 because sometimes saying no is saying yes to a safer and healthier Whatcom County.

Janel Ernster

Birch Bay



I am writing in support of Donnell Tanksley for sheriff. I have met with him several times, and I find him approachable, honest and very qualified for the position of sheriff.

His background experience and education are what we need at this time. I encourage others to check out what he can bring to the office of the sheriff.

Alta Toler




For the first time in two decades, Whatcom County will have a new sheriff when all the 2023 ballots are counted. 

I’ve heard it said that if you don’t know you have a choice, you don’t have a choice. This election cycle, Whatcom County voters have a clear choice in candidates for sheriff. In a word, “Tank” is the superior option for our 21st-century Whatcom County.

Donnell “Tank” Tanksley speaks to emerging from racial profiling, housing instability and jarring life transitions, from experience. “Tank” is a skilled critical thinker and decision-maker, drawing on finely honed academic and career credentials.

“Tank” leads agencies with effective and efficient personnel and fiscal oversight. He invites community voices to his tables. “Tank” understands the difference between what can be done, and what should be done. “Tank” believes that not every nail needs a hammer. “Tank” embraces community safety and community development. He works across and between silos to make systems change. “Tank” sees the whole of Whatcom County with a broad and inclusive lens. He has the vision, energy and passion Whatcom County deserves today, and tomorrow.

Please join me in voting for Tanksley for Whatcom County sheriff on Nov. 7. 

Karla Ward

Sudden Valley


Mayor Seth Fleetwood has support from a broad range of community, state and national leaders. Three former mayors have endorsed him: Kelli Linville, Tim Douglas and Ken Hertz.

Four city council members endorse him: Dan Hammill, Hollie Huthman, Michael Liliquist and Skip Williams.

County council member Todd Donovan, former council member Laurie Caskey-Schreiber, Port Commissioner President Michael Shepard and Public Utility District Commissioner Atul Deshmane also support Fleetwood.

Mayor Fleetwood has the support of U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs, state Rep. Alex Ramel, and county Executive Satpal Sidhu.

These people recognize Fleetwood’s leadership in many areas over the years:

• In sponsoring the Bellingham Plastic Bag Reduction Ordinance that was used by Seattle and many other cities and presently is being considered for statewide adoption;

• As a longtime strong supporter of the Bellingham Greenways Program, making Bellingham a national leader in parks and trails;

• As sponsor of the Bellingham Growth Forums, beginning community discussion on growth and recommendations in the comprehensive plan for best practices to densify and infill;

• As co-founder of the countywide Housing Affordability Task Force leading to the creation of a Bellingham Home Fund, to build affordable housing;

• As city council president, he collaborated to oversee the final process negotiation, and timing of the Waterfront Master Plan adoption, leading to waterfront development.

Vote for Seth Fleetwood — he is the leader we need as Mayor of Bellingham. 

Patricia Decker, past planning and community development director; Lulu (Leslie) Langdon, past council member; and Dixie McKay, Bellingham



Mayor Seth Fleetwood’s experience and careful decision-making serve us well.

Weeks after taking office, he navigated us through the complexities of a massive pandemic: employees unable to go to work, two years without in-person public meetings and uncertain revenues to fund public services. More recently, facing a sharp rise in fentanyl overdoses and deaths, our mayor courageously got the council to prohibit open sales and use of drugs on our sidewalks.

With years on the city and county councils, Fleetwood was ready to take the executive reins and continue cooperation with other Whatcom mayors, state and federal officials. He now guides our city’s bold Climate Action Plan to make Bellingham resilient in the face of weather extremes and global warming.

Mayor Fleetwood has led several Greenways levies with a legacy of preserved open space, parks and interconnecting trails. With the approach of a state-mandated 2024 update of our comprehensive plan, Seth quickly enlisted community leaders to address key issues that will shape our future: wise land use, more varied and affordable housing, and better transportation links between our growing urban villages, other Whatcom County cities and points south. The mayor also sees strong economic gains when our fine university, colleges and K-12 system strive to provide the skills new jobs require.

Mayor Fleetwood’s insight and vision place a steady hand on our city’s tiller.      

Tim Douglas




Bravo to the CDN for extensive candidate coverage in the upcoming election.

However, in 2023, I have but one yes or no question for every candidate, regardless of party or position: Do you support Donald Trump? 

If the candidate’s answer is yes, he/she will not get my vote. If the answer is no, I will continue to listen and learn about the individual’s candidacy.

L.J. Templeton



Public safety is paramount in Whatcom County. As a downtown business owner, I witness our eroding social safety net and the strain on fellow businesses. The solution? Investing in preventive programs such as behavioral health, drug and alcohol treatments, and rehabilitation. 

We need both a well-equipped jail system and services that reduce incarceration necessity. A plan addressing this balance is on the ballot this year. Oversight must ensure cost-effectiveness without sacrificing safety.

Donnell Tanksley, a sheriff candidate, epitomizes the vision we need. He’s a military veteran with a rich policing background, including roles as the assistant chief of police at Western Washington University, and currently the chief of police in Blaine.

Tanksley champions “fair and impartial policing” and aims to break the incarceration cycle. His vision aligns with our county’s desires: evidence-based, transparent and fiscally prudent public safety measures.

The upcoming voting season focuses on a new jail measure. If approved, rigorous cost management, construction oversight and transparency are essential. Tanksley is suited for this task. To ensure our community’s well-being, we must emphasize treatment over incarceration and address disparities in our justice system. Let’s prioritize health and safety. I urge you to vote for Donnell “Tank” Tanksley for sheriff.

Anne-Marie Faiola




The Cascadia Daily News article last week titled “Frustration with PeaceHealth has become a political issue” (CDN, Oct. 2, 2023) reported that every candidate, even with varying ideas of how to solve the issue, saw this frustration as a political issue, save one. 

Kim Lund’s insight into the disconnect between what the community wants and what PeaceHealth thinks the community needs, her call for increased accountability for public resources, and the need to rebuild trust were in stark contrast to Mayor Fleetwood’s sympathy toward PeaceHealth. 

We do not need leaders who are content with the status quo in our community. Regardless of where you sit on the political spectrum, it’s clear that we are faced with some significant challenges to ensure we are creating a healthy and thriving community, including housing the unhoused, keeping our public spaces safe and welcoming, saving the lives at risk of being lost due to addiction and hopelessness, and a medical system that isn’t meeting the needs of our local community. 

We need leaders willing to consider thoughtful approaches to complex problems. We need leaders that are up for the task of leading. 

Meredith Hayes



I support the reelection of Seth Fleetwood for mayor of Bellingham. 

At the beginning of his term, Seth demonstrated his commitment to public health by implementing strong safety measures during the pandemic. Some of these were not without controversy, yet I applaud his principled leadership as an incident commander for emergency response during this unprecedented crisis.

Seth can now add experience in municipal governance to his portfolio of expertise in planning, administration and policy. We are familiar with his long record of effective environmental action as well. In my opinion, he is the more qualified candidate for the office of mayor of Bellingham.

Less well known is that Seth listened to the concerns of local citizens about the city’s plan to make biosolids for agricultural use from waste from the Post Point treatment plant. He was concerned about rising costs of this technology.

Many of us were alarmed at the idea of spreading “forever chemicals” and other toxins on the soil. Seth listened and called for a reboot of the whole idea.

Speaking of Post Point, if you enjoy watching the Great Blue Herons that nest there, thank Seth Fleetwood. He personally intervened to help negotiate the purchase of private property to protect the site from future development, an effort that had been stalled for two decades.

Reelect Seth Fleetwood for mayor of Bellingham.

Jamie K. Donaldson



Four years ago, Jackie had an arrest for DUI that could have derailed her life. However, she chose a path of recovery and has remained sober ever since. Through her experience, she has gained a profound understanding of the struggles that individuals face with substance abuse, and her commitment to sobriety will undoubtedly inform her decisions on the county council.

In Whatcom County and throughout Washington state, substance abuse and addiction affect numerous lives. According to recent statistics, 20,000 people in Whatcom County and more than 300,000 people in Washington state are in recovery from alcohol addiction, and this is only official statistics — we know many more struggle with addiction but don’t get help.

Jackie’s personal journey is not just her own; it mirrors the challenges that many individuals and families in our community face.

By electing Jackie to the Whatcom County Council District 5, we are not only choosing a capable leader but also someone who intimately understands the struggles of our neighbors. Jackie’s firsthand experience with recovery will lead her to advocate for proactive steps the county can take to support those on similar journeys and help create policies that address the root causes of substance abuse. Let us embrace a leader who has not only overcome personal challenges but is also committed to building a stronger, more compassionate community for us all.

Please vote Jackie Dexter on Nov. 7! 

Elizabeth Gutierrez

Birch Bay

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. Please do not double-space after punctuation! Letters MUST be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer’s identity (not for publication).

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