Letters to the Editor, week of Sept. 21, 2022

September 21, 2022 at 5:10 a.m.


I don't understand why Bellinghamsters are so sanguine about the prospect of a high-speed train connecting us to Seattle. If you think housing costs are high now, what do you think will happen when Seattleites realize they can commute from here daily?

Let Seattle, Portland and Vancouver have their high-speed connection, but leave us out of it. There's no reason that train should pass through Bellingham. Let's not make our city a suburb of Seattle.

Aaron Shepard



Copy of a note sent to Whatcom Transportation Authority:

I use the WTA system daily for work and have used transit most of my adult life. I am an avid environmentalist, and despite having the means to purchase a car, I don’t because organizing our society around car ownership is unwise in the long term, even pollution aside. That said, I am somewhat dismayed by WTA's recent endeavor to spend money on new electric buses that are almost double the price of diesel buses, and I hope it does not become a significant trend. Even if the lower estimated lifecycle cost (which includes purchase price) stands the test of time, focusing on ridership is far more pertinent to addressing climate change. Ridership is what matters. Getting cars off the road in the first place is what matters. Affordable, regular, timely (in order of importance) buses are what will do that.

Yes, electric is better, but until buses are full, they are a “gee whiz” distraction from the main goal: less vehicle use and more walking, cycling and busing.

Without riders, it does not matter if buses are electric or not. If WTA wants to seriously foray into electric, be sensible and invest in a more affordable capital project like electric scooter/bicycle rentals. But electric buses? Electric vehicles are the biggest greenwash campaign of the day. They are a rich man’s solution and economically unjust. We should aim to reduce car dependency in general and then go electric. It may be trite, but “reduce” is the first word in “reduce, reuse, recycle.”

Yes, the money is from the FTA’s Low or No Emission Grant Program or eventually from the Move Ahead Washington transportation package and is slated for such purchases. In that case, why isn’t the government focusing on ridership? Why has it lost sense and been enrolled in the expensive “gee whiz” of electric automobiles? 

Let’s do something more sensible, like implementing “Free Fare Fridays,” expanding the August free fare days program, reducing general fares, expanding and promoting the wonderful Smart Trips program, automating stoplights for bus prioritization, promoting engagement through the bus art program, offering affordable e-bike rentals, or simply having more regular buses to get those cars off the road. 

Buy a few electric buses if you must as older buses are decommissioned, but please do not focus on it until buses are full. For now, ridership is key.

Sky Leuba



American politics have been increasingly volatile over recent years, with economic and various other forms of systemic inequalities. The culprit moving our nation into only darker times ahead for most everybody continues to be routinely mismanaged, neglected, minimized and even made invisible by most politicians once in office. The many problems only reflect the symptoms of the larger structural issues in dire need of significant reforms. 

Many voters are understandably jaded by their everyday realities that do not match up to the many repeated promises made by the elected officials representing both sides of the aisle. Washington state and Whatcom County are in need of an all-encompassing, honest, experienced representative who is actively in tune and engaged with the concerns of our residents. We need somebody who has the ability, knowledge and experience to produce practical solutions that generate the most effective outcomes with the broadest reaches possible.    

As an Independent-leaning voter, I found Sharon Shewmake as the indisputable choice for the state Senate District 42 seat. Few politicians are all-inclusive and committed to serving all people who share our communities, regardless of party affiliation or other group-related attributes — including those who are most vulnerable and powerless, yet the least voiceless — those who do not vote for many reasons, as with lower-income and homeless communities. 

Her credentials and experience speak for themselves. An important example is “The Way Station,” which everybody in our community can, and should, appreciate. Innovative projects such as these demonstrate how several pressing issues can be addressed with a common front. In this case, tending to the most vulnerable while bringing relief to hospital professionals. I encourage everybody, regardless of party affiliation or identification, to learn about Shewmake for yourselves, and invest your vote with her. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”      

Athena R. Griffith



The qualities that make a good professor are the same I want to see in my elected officials.

Putting the needs of students first, taking action for underrepresented groups and a passion for excellent teaching and research are all things I have witnessed from Sharon Shewmake as an associate professor of economics at Western Washington University. 

As a state representative, Shewmake has shown she cares deeply about making sure all voices are heard in the state Legislature and has supported bills addressing child care, dairy farmers, transportation and climate change. Sharon is idealistic but pragmatic. She is data-driven but cares about the people behind the numbers. As a colleague and concerned citizen, I trust her insight into many issues knowing that her policy decisions are grounded in evidence-based science.

Shewmake shines a light on the needs of others and takes action. I have been extremely impressed by her ability to encourage both students and constituents to help shape their community through civic participation. She is a great champion of both her students’ and constituents’ success, and I believe we would be fortunate to have her serve as a state senator.

Adam C. Wright



Labor Day is over, school is starting and many students and their parents are already looking down the road at education after high school. Whether it is college, trade schools or other continuing education, one thing is sure: It's going to have a price. That's where scholarship dollars come in.

One of the best-kept secrets in our community is the scholarship dollars offered by our veterans' organizations. The Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) has a contest for high school students, including homeschoolers, called “Voice of Democracy.” 

In this program, a student creates a three- to five-minute audio essay, records it, then submits it, along with an entry signed by a parent or guardian, to a sponsoring VFW post. Your local VFW Post (we have three in Whatcom County — Custer, Lynden and Bellingham) can furnish the entry forms with detailed instructions. Each post can send one winner for every 15 entries received to the next level — district. The district submits its winner to the state level. The winner at the state level gets a trip to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. Each of these levels pay scholarship dollars.  

For students in grades six, seven and eight, the VFW has a program called “Patriot's Pen,” in which a written essay of 300–400 words is submitted.  

Information for this year's programs states, “Winning entries selected by local VFW Posts go on to compete at their District and Department (state) level, with state winners competing at the national level. The Voice of Democracy top prize is the $35,000 T.C. Selman Memorial Scholarship, and the Patriot’s Pen grand prize winner receives the $5,500 Paul A. Spera Past Commander-in-Chief Award.”

For further information, contact info@VFWPost9474.com, your local VFW Post, or vfw.org/community/youth-and-education/youth-scholarships.

J. G. Sandy Phillips


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