Editor's Note: Thanks to everyone who has written letters to the editor in support of candidates for the current general election. Due to a high volume, we won't be able to run many of them in our limited space in print but will endeavor to publish as many as possible online.
We genuinely appreciate the Cascadia Daily News, its staff and its coverage of important issues in our community, including our schools and athletics. We are supportive of your news organization and look forward to our continuing to work together.
Some of the sentiments shared in your opinion piece (CDN, Oct. 19, 2022) are not new to us. We have heard similar frustration from others in our community who believe they have the right to know more about the hazing events that took place and who is being disciplined and how.
We would like to take this opportunity to share more about why we protect the privacy of our students, and how we help hold students accountable.
It’s important to remember that we are talking about high school kids, some as young as 14 years old. These are students who choose to participate in an after-school team for a variety of reasons — belonging, friendship, competition, school pride, love of the game and future aspirations. They deserve our time and care, and they deserve the chance to learn, reflect and do better.
We strive for transparency while staying within the bounds of the federal privacy law for all children and keeping our focus on the well-being of our students, including students who may be victims. We have shared that we investigated serious, confirmed student behaviors, and forfeited a football game after we learned of hazing behavior that violated harassment, intimidation and bullying policies. We have also shared that based on our investigation, the Sehome football team players and coaches are participating in education and training about appropriate behavior and how to improve the future culture of the team.
Restorative work is complicated and time-consuming. Our staff is committed to working with our student-athletes and coaches to be a better team and be better humans. We welcome anyone who is interested to learn more about the lessons and discussions that are taking place each week with the team, which are requirements during team practices.
We thank our community for the privilege of caring for, teaching and coaching Bellingham’s children.
Superintendent, Bellingham Public Schools
As a parent and as a resident, I concur with the sentiments expressed in Editor Ron Judd's recent column (CDN, Oct. 19, 2022). Bellingham Public Schools has failed to distinguish between privacy (good) and secrecy (bad). And, that fuels imagination and speculation. How serious were the offenses? Were there criminal charges? Disposition? Is the District's silence, perhaps, because the perpetrators were from prominent families?
The public may not be entitled to know the identity of the perpetrator(s) of the alleged hazing. However, parents and the public deserve to be informed about what exactly transpired. What was the nature of the “hazing”? What steps are being taken to prevent its recurrence?
So, too, with regard to the gun/bomb(?) threats last Dec. 8 that caused Sehome High School to go into a lockdown — an event that justifiably frightened many students. OK, protect the privacy of the perpetrator (presumably a minor), but inform us parents and the public what the disposition of that matter was.
There is no excuse for the district withholding that information which the public has a right to know. News events cry out for closure!
Of all the blockages along Samish Way, the most straightforwardly fixable is where Bill McDonald Parkway vomits cars onto Samish Way in the times 2–6 p.m. They dump right into the closely-spaced traffic lights on Samish both east and west of Interstate 5. These lights can back up eastbound traffic across I-5 and back through another light to Bill McDonald.
The trouble is that enough of the drivers entering Samish eastbound at Bill McDonald are undisciplined and proceed onto Samish even if traffic is blocked, and they think nothing of blocking the intersection by coming to rest athwart a lane or two. This is not rare; it is becoming a constant source of unnecessary blockage.
There is a straightforward fix to this: surveil the intersection, either by camera or by a live cop on the scene, and give traffic tickets to these undisciplined and negligent drivers. There used to be such things as traffic tickets in Bellingham, but for a number of years, they seem to have been phased out. The results are predictable and unfortunate.
By the way, this is not just a problem for car traffic; it also affects bikes trying to cross this intersection. I used to bike regularly between my home (on Samish Way near 40th) to/from Bellingham. Now I have largely given up on biking this route. One deterrent (of several) is crossing Bill McDonald Parkway where it joins Samish. Impatient drivers turning either onto Bill McDonald or onto Samish are often inattentive to bikes (or pedestrians) crossing at the crosswalk.
Thank you for the article about the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. As a regular lap swimmer there, hearing from community members that are frustrated with the crowded lap lanes resonates with me. I was surprised that the article did not include mention from any of the high school swimmers or coaches, the Bellingham Bay Swim Team swimmers or coaches, or the Masters group. The swim teams are greatly impacted by the lack of space and I would have appreciated hearing from them in this article too.
I’d like to see Bellingham follow in Bend, Oregon’s footsteps: with a population similar to ours, their city-owned Juniper Swim & Fitness Center has an outdoor Olympic-size pool that can be covered for winter use, another outdoor recreation pool with a slide, an indoor lap pool and another indoor instructional pool. The facility also has a fitness center and exercise classes. It sounds like our YMCA has a similar vision, but the Y’s plan to simply add four lanes to the existing Arne Hanna pool is not going to ease the gridlock.
Our town needs an Olympic-size pool (8 lanes by 50 meters and 20-plus lanes by 25 yards) at least. Not only would an Olympic-size pool provide our community and swim teams with more scheduling options but would also allow our swim teams to host more swim meets.
Arne Hanna is a gem of a facility. It is clean and the staff is helpful and kind. It is a much-loved space for all us fish. Scaling it up to serve our city’s growing population is what’s needed now.
Many of your readers probably share my concern over the integrity of and trust in our elections. Part of the problem is a partisan wave washing over state offices that direct elections. That’s why I’m voting for Julie Anderson for Secretary of State.
Julie is running as a nonpartisan, refusing financial support from either political party. She will perform her duties with the interests of the voter first, not any political party. This will elevate the integrity of the office and reduce partisan attacks.
Julie Anderson is a state- and nationally certified election administrator with 12 years of experience managing elections as Pierce County Auditor. I encourage your readers to search out her website, where she has outlined a clear and robust plan to keep Washington state in the national limelight of exemplary elections.
Julie Anderson has a name to remember. Think of Julie Andrews in “The Sound of Music.” Think of Julie Anderson as “The Sound of Democracy.”
Glen "Alex" Alexander
As a longtime citizen and voter in Whatcom County, I have decided to vote for Simon Sefzik for state Senate to represent the 42nd District in Olympia. Simon is energetic, knowledgeable and has the right kind of education. On the other hand, I am tired of Sharon Shewmake’s rhetoric. She keeps repeating how she is an economist, and this way she will be able to solve all our problems in Whatcom County. In reality, she has been representing the party that is not anymore JFK’s party, but the party that stands on the left side of politics. Her party has been implementing failing economic policies, as they have been helping this county and state march into socialism through government control and higher taxes.
Shewmake has been representing and aiding the party that the last three years closed schools down in Whatcom County, destroyed many small businesses, caused crime to rise by minimizing the effectiveness of the local police force, and has driven mental illness to higher levels.
I hope the voters of Whatcom County will not be fooled by Shewmake and will send Sefzik to Olympia. Sefzik is a breath of fresh air and has a good head on his shoulders. He wants this county and state to flourish again, not through outdated and failed economic theories, higher taxes and government ownership. But through freedom of choice, equal opportunity for all Whatcom County residents, healthy competition and the revitalization of the Free Enterprise System. Please join me in sending Sefzik to Olympia.
In the Whatcom County judicial race, I recommend voting for Jonathan Rands. Having known Jonathan for over 20 years, I know he would be a fair judge, as he has an exceptional understanding of the law and judicial system and has served as a Judge Pro Tem for other judges in the county. He is highly regarded by his colleagues, as is evident by the overwhelming number of judges and attorneys who have endorsed his candidacy.
In addition, he has been endorsed by groups of engaged voters on both sides of the aisle: the Whatcom County Republicans, the 42nd District Democrats and hundreds of community members of varying views. He is the recommended candidate in the Progressive Voter Guide and received the endorsement of the Cascadia Daily News. When left and right can agree on the same candidate, that speaks volumes to the impartiality needed for judicial work. At times, judges can create a judiciary that is activist in nature, but I see none of that in Jonathan. He works for the best outcome. His interest in a community court to solve problems and connect people with the resources they need to succeed is testimony to his nature of helping citizens, rather than sentencing them to jail.
I am proud to know him and call him a friend. I urge you to cast your vote for Jonathan Rands for judge.
I felt it was necessary to voice my opinion for the community to vote yes on Prop 5. Generally, I do not vote for tax increases and am suspicious of more government programs, rules and regulations. But this is a problem too large to continue to ignore or wait for free market economics to address. I also have come to believe that the structure of Prop 5 has sufficient oversite and the public/private partnership to be successful.
I am sending this support letter to your paper in hopes that you will publish it to the community.
Thanks for your consideration.
As a retired educator who worked in the Bellingham School District for most of my career, I have met many incredible students and families. One family stands out — a mother with four young children ages 1–8, who was fleeing domestic violence, living in their car on the north side of town. The mom was working so hard to get back on her feet but needed a little bit of help. Family liaison staff was able to secure housing, which allowed the older boys to enroll in school, and the mom quickly found work. Soon, the younger boys enrolled in pre-K. Without that early intervention, those boys would have been far behind their peers and struggled through school just to catch up. I’m glad to share that all four children are doing extremely well in school to this day. (The oldest is now in high school.) The mom was able to save enough money to buy her own home, and the boys are thriving thanks to her deep love and commitment and the support of many from the community who have loved and cared for them. These boys now have a very promising future ahead of them and will undoubtedly be huge contributors to our community.
By many measures, this family could have had a different path, but they were fortunate enough to meet the right people who could help. Many in our community have not been so fortunate and have tragically slipped through the cracks. Proposition 5 will put an end to this by making access to early childhood support intentional and available to all children in our community. As a community, we can do better, and that’s why I am asking you to vote YES for Whatcom Kids, Prop 5.
Longtime Whatcom resident
Jobs! Jobs! Jobs! Vote “Yes” for Whatcom Kids!
I am a long-term, passionate employer in Whatcom County. A recurring, important issue to our workforce is the availability of quality, consistent child care. We have an opportunity to retain and recruit both small and large employers to Whatcom County if we make abundant child care a priority. Vote “Yes” for Proposition 5.
Families get the support they need, all children get a healthy start and we are able to keep our employees working. Invest with me in Proposition 5, Yes for Whatcom Kids!
As a novelist and occasional book reviewer, as well as a retired creative writing instructor at WWU, I applaud Michael Byers for his frank review (CDN, Oct. 22, 2022) of “What Strange Paradise” by Omar El Akkad. Byers writes, “He doesn’t write novels, he constructs messaging objects, and maybe that’s what readers want these days.”
I can tell you that I’m another reader who is tired of the current crop of novels that are clearly vehicles for a message, often an important one, but one that might be better presented as nonfiction. There are also way too many novels lately that ignore the old maxim of “show, don’t tell,” which simplifies but conveys the importance of immersing the reader in a fictional story that comes alive through strong characters, dialogue, action and setting. Too often, current novelists mostly summarize events and lecture the reader. If a novelist hasn’t mastered fiction-writing skills, I put the book down and look for another that creates a vivid immersion in story. Earnestness alone won’t keep us reading.
With Prop 5 on the ballot this November, we have a unique opportunity to make generational changes in Whatcom County. As a local elected leader who has worked for improvements in the criminal justice system for the past eight years, I can tell you that the likelihood of a young adult winding up in the booking port of our jail is often closely linked with how they grew up as a kid. Let's provide a new roadmap: Access to high-quality child care, off-ramps out of homelessness and poverty, and being ready and supported to enter into kindergarten are game-changers for Whatcom County children.
Early investments in our kids have profound and lasting impacts on families and our communities.
Please join me in supporting local children and families by voting yes on Prop 5 this November.
I am voting “Yes” on Prop 5, and I strongly urge you to do so as well. The child care crisis facing Whatcom County is too large and complex to be solved individually. We need to act as a community to invest in early childhood education, which must be treated as critical infrastructure in the same way we treat the pipes that bring us safe drinking water, our roads and electrical grid.
Currently, in Whatcom County, there are 5,000 fewer openings in child care settings than needed to meet local demand. This shortfall derails too many peoples’ ability to get to work and provide for their families, much in the same way that a washed-out road or a power outage would. Over time, this shortfall will erode the functioning of our economy and our society. Indeed, we already are seeing the impacts of our crumbling early childhood education infrastructure. Our schools estimate that less than half of incoming kindergartners arrive at school ready to learn. Employers are struggling to fill vacancies. We must act. Investments in early childhood education like the one put forward by Prop 5 work. In 2009, for example, Washington, D.C., instituted free universal preschool, and the share of women in the city’s workforce skyrocketed by 10%. The same results have happened elsewhere. I strongly urge you to help shore up Whatcom County’s critical infrastructure by investing in early childhood education. Vote “Yes” on Prop 5 when you return your ballot by Nov. 8.
The choice for our state Senator is clear: Sen. Simon Sefzik.
If you are searching for a candidate who stands up for local businesses, affordable housing and public safety, that person is Sen. Simon Sefzik. If you want to see the disastrous policing laws changed, don’t risk your vote on the person who voted for those laws, but vote for Sefzik. He worked tirelessly to repeal those laws. If you want to support the only candidate who fought to create a temporary repeal of Washington’s gas tax, then vote for Sefzik. In spite of enormous opposition, he fought to save you, your family and our agricultural industry from higher prices.
Sefzik has been campaigning tirelessly these past few months in an effort to reach every family in Whatcom County. He is hearing about those issues important to working people like us and our families — how our families are struggling with record inflation and increased health concerns. Sefzik is providing hope that with him representing us, we have a future in Washington state. He is a true believer that Washington can, and does, offer immense opportunities for those fortunate enough to call our district home.
Please join me in supporting our senator in this election; support Sen. Simon Sefzik!
Rep. Sharon Shewmake is running for the 42nd District state Senate seat. During the past four years, she has been our representative in the state Legislature, where she has proven herself to be a strong advocate for all the people of Whatcom County.
During those four years, she has stood up to the pharmaceutical companies and got the price of insulin lowered for Washington residents. Sharon does not work for pharmaceutical companies, she works for us. She has written and passed bills for better access to child care, and secured funding for new facilities, including the Whatcom Crisis Stabilization Center, which is now available to our loved ones so they can get much-needed help.
Sharon supports strong, fair gun safety laws. She wants our kids to be safe at school, our families safe in the county and police officers safe on the job. She is committed to safe neighborhoods and has voted to double the number of training facilities for police officers. She supports an effort to create regional training centers, including one in Whatcom County.
Supporting local schools is a priority for Sharon. If a person makes more than $250,000 in stock market sales in one year, they should pay a Capital Gains Tax that goes to schools. Sharon has lowered taxes on most home sales in Whatcom County to help our families, while fully funding schools by making sure the super-wealthy pay their fair share.
Sharon has worked hard for us in the Washington state House. She is smart, honest and a strong leader. I hope you will join me and vote to send her to work for us in the Washington state Senate.
Learn more at Sharon4Whatcom.com
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