When we hit the online “LIVE” button for an all-new, digital daily, print-weekly news organization on Jan. 24, 2022, Cascadia Daily News launched with a concerted mission: Fill part of a news void in northwest Washington state with a fiercely independent, locally owned and managed, broad-based publication, shining light on a wide range of local public life. Nearly a year later, we hope that our first 12 months of work show some solid steps in that direction.
Visit our Year in Review page (or pick up a copy of the Dec. 21 print paper) to see what our newsroom reporters, editors and photographers consider to be the most memorable and important examples of that work — a glimpse at a year in the life of people in a place we are proud to call home.
Presented below is a list of the 10 most impactful news subjects of the year, chosen by CDN staff.
—Ron Judd, executive editor
• Key swing district flips: Whatcom County's 42nd District, long a GOP stronghold, went fully blue after the death of Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale and a narrow midterm victory by Democrat Sharon Shewmake.
• City chastened for lofty climate change goals: Bellingham rolled back a costly plan to renovate its wastewater treatment plant and shelved an expensive, proposed climate action fund amid political blowback.
• Whatcom County reckons with race: Whatcom County Council forms a racial equity commission, and two Black community members took seats on the Bellingham City Council.
• Attempts to recover from global pandemic hampered by economic shortfalls: As COVID-19 restrictions lifted, businesses and institutions struggled with labor shortages, inflation and supply-chain issues.
• School administrators on the hot seat: Bellingham Public Schools was struck by simultaneous year-end scandals, one involving hazing and one involving the alleged failure of administrators to report sexual assaults.
• Whatcom County mulls industrial future: Ferndale's Intalco aluminum smelter, part of a cluster of industries based around Cherry Point, saw hopes of reopening dashed — at least for now — in December.
• Housing, and lack thereof, shapes agendas: “Livability” issues extended past homelessness this year amid rent hikes, safety concerns, soaring housing prices, a low vacancy rate and a surge of newcomers.
• Police face shortages while crime rises: Bellingham residents, angered by a spike in property crime and other offenses, got little satisfaction from local governments, which cited a struggle to attract and retain law enforcement.
• 22 North at a crossroads: A downtown facility became a symbol for issues like homelessness and drug addiction.
• WWU women lead the way: Continuing a legacy of overachieving women's athletics at Western, the basketball team was a national runner-up and the soccer team clinched its second national championship.