Letters to the Editor, Week of Oct. 4, 2023

Copious qualities of candidates for public office, plus scrap metal nightmares
October 4, 2023 at 5:00 a.m.


I have met with Donnell "Tank" Tanksley a couple of times and have been impressed with his broad experience and humanistic approach to policing.

He recognizes the history of the jail and suggests that every member of the sheriff's staff should have behavioral health skills; the ensuing "justice center" would include financial literacy training, education and apprenticeships among other methods of reintegrating people into the community. Thus the size of a new jail could be diminished.

Tank's experiences include the military from high school to policing in Missouri, Oregon, and Washington at Western Washington University and Blaine.

Among his concerns are increased homelessness, limited housing and increasing crime. He looks forward to stepping into the county sheriff's position and getting to work on day one. I believe he is worthy of your vote.

Ruth Higgins



It is perhaps the pinnacle of irony that as we contemplate adjudicating water rights to the Nooksack River amid plummeting salmon populations, that a large withdrawal via Whatcom Public Utility District 1 pumps Nooksack water to the Cherry Point oil refineries to dilute their toxic discharge into the Salish Sea.

Is it any wonder that Dan Purdy noted in his county executive candidate interview that he previously worked for BP Cherry Point and is opposed to adjudication despite its support from the state Legislature, county government, Whatcom PUD (Public Utility District), the City of Bellingham, Lummi Nation and the Nooksack Tribe?

As Washington Poet Laureate Rena Priest (Lummi) writes in her article "Reciprocity in the Age of Extinction": "The Spring Chinook, whom we Lummi honor in ceremony, face the threat of extinction. The Southern Resident orcas, icons of the Salish Sea, our relations under the waves, whose primary food source is the Chinook salmon, face the threat of extinction … Are we ready to let it all go in order to hold onto a belief in man’s place at the top of a hierarchy which requires no gift in exchange for the gifts of the natural world? Are we really ready to let it all go to avoid sacrificing anything at all in exchange for the sacrifices of Salmon Woman and her children?"

Jay Taber



I do not want to be a face of protests against toxic pollution in my backyard/city. I’m too old and no longer have the stamina required. However, I can’t not speak up when such a threat arises.

A friend just said, “We want recycling. It has to be in someone’s backyard. You are a NIMBY.” This is such an odd statement I must address it publicly, since there may be others saying this. Yes, we want recycling.

No! Noisy, toxic, polluting businesses do not belong in anyone’s backyard. For crying out loud, no one’s children should be poisoned for the sake of recycling. No one should have to struggle to get around giant, toxin-wafting trucks crowding narrow city streets or be kept awake by noise.

Follow the rail tracks back … there are miles of scrubland, not useful for farming, remote, where ABC Recycling can build their recycling and shredding business. Or in Canada’s scrublands. Not in ANYONE’S backyard, for heaven’s sake.

Lynn Geri



Chief Donnell "Tank" Tanksley has dedicated his life as a servant leader, in law enforcement and in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Army. 

I have had the good fortune to meet Chief Tank on various occasions and have been impressed with his realistic "can do" attitude. When he is elected Whatcom County sheriff, he will forge stronger partnerships with the community and other law enforcement agencies, which will enhance public safety and respect for all constituents.

He is knowledgeable, experienced, empathetic, approachable and eminently reasonable.

I encourage Whatcom County voters to find out where Chief Tank will next speak and go listen to him. I have no doubt you'll be convinced he's the person to tackle the tough job as our new Whatcom County sheriff.

I support Donnell Tanksley for sheriff without reservation.

Micki Jackson



I’m dismayed to find myself in opposition to many of my fellow progressives who plan to vote against the upcoming ballot measure to fund a new jail/treatment facility. Please consider these points before making a final decision: If you haven’t already, track the county council votes to learn that the sheriff has in fact worked hard to make needed repairs to the existing building. I encourage everyone to watch the video tour of the current jail to understand how inhumane and dangerous it is. The violent nature of the crimes for which people are being detained underscores the ongoing need to sequester people who pose a real danger to our community. People cannot be forced into treatment and moreover, there is a dire shortage of behavioral health specialists trained to provide that treatment.

Please read the implementation plan that describes in great detail what services will be provided to help people get their lives back on track while protecting our community (including those detained and jail staff and volunteers). Have you participated in any of the working groups over the past several years to give input on what an improved jail facility should include, given the legal and financial constraints? 

The circumstances are much more complex and systemic than jail opponents would have one believe. To adopt a simplistic ideological position of “prisons don’t work” without offering alternatives grounded in reality, and without working to change criminal justice laws that govern our communities, leaves us all stuck in a terrible situation that in fact hurts the people we progressives want to help.  

Frances Posel



I have come to know Donnell “Tank” Tanksley over the past several months and have enormous respect for the diverse law enforcement experience he will bring to us as sheriff.

Our other choice has similar time in law enforcement but emphasizes that it is in just one place — here.

The sheriff’s office has changed little due to Bill Elfo’s long tenure. The time now is great to make reforms. These should be versed in the breadth of perspective gained by work in other communities as diverse as St. Louis, Portland, Blaine and higher education settings. That’s Tank Tanksley.

This candidate is clear about the importance of behavioral health treatment as an early intervention to reduce repeat residents of the jail. He will emphasize training of the sheriff's staff to better affect the quality of their response. In so many other ways, Tank sees room for reform that benefits criminal justice outcomes.

Let’s elect Tank Tanksley, who offers so much to advance good change in the sheriff’s operation!

Tim Douglas



Three positions for Ferndale School Board are coming up for vote in November. I would like to share my opinion on why three candidates should be chosen.

District 1: Frank Erickson is the current president and has been on the board 10 years. I’ve watched videos of past meetings, and I’m impressed with his ability to handle what I consider difficult personalities and issues, and his knowledge of components running a school district.

District 2: Brent Bode is an administrator at Western Washington University, and has an impressive background in supporting people of all backgrounds and teaching others those skills. 

District 3: Toni Jefferson is currently in this position and is running to stay. She is a member of the Lummi Nation, has served on its school board, and has had other experience in directing, management and board roles in Whatcom County. 

All three candidates support public schools. Their opponents are looking for alternatives to public schools, and specifically do not want to include providing students support in their sexual orientation. 

Ferndale School District has a Respect for All Policy that states students have the right to learn in an environment free of harassment, bullying and violence. This right is threatened if we don’t protect students by electing officials who show with their actions and words they have compassion for all backgrounds, they can work with others, and have the necessary skills to manage the complexities involved in running a school district. 

Susie Keithly

Lummi Island


I love Bellingham. In the more than 40 years I have called it home, I have watched many things change, and more importantly, many things stay the same. Bellingham is a community that cherishes its stunningly beautiful setting in the heart of the Pacific Northwest. Our unified wish to see our city thrive in decades to come is undeniable — regardless of our political stances. We want our children’s children to appreciate the work that was required and will continue to be needed to move Bellingham forward for prosperity.  

This kind of effort requires a strong steward in the mayor’s office. Someone able to assemble a team to focus on the common goal of achieving and maintaining a thriving Bellingham. This leader must be willing to seek out input, concerns and guidance from all Bellingham voices, those seen and unseen, on all of today’s crucial issues.

Kim Lund is fully ready for this role. She has experience working with families from all corners of Bellingham through the Bellingham Schools Foundation. Such a vantage point did not keep her blind to pockets of struggle throughout our city. Instead, it galvanized a vision for greater collaboration and dedication to improving life in Bellingham for every one of its citizens. She will work to bring together experts in public safety, housing, the economy, mental health, the environment and more to address our common concerns. She will listen to their recommendations, make decisions and take action to make measurable progress for Bellingham.  

Sarah vanWoerden



I enthusiastically support Kim Lund for mayor of Bellingham. 

We have a wonderful community, blessed by nature and the compassion of our fellow citizens. It is essential that the mayor both shares our values and has the skills essential to lead city government. 

In this race, both candidates hold very similar political views. Views that I embrace. 

However, there is a crucial difference between them. 

Kim Lund not only has strong values, she also lives them. She is an action-oriented decision-maker. A principled leader with experience as a results-driven executive in both the for-profit and nonprofit worlds. 

Relying upon citizen input, staff input and other facts and information, she will make decisions and take actions that address our problems while preserving our unique neighborhoods.  

Crucial issues face Bellingham: public safety, homelessness, water quality, climate change, etc. 

Kim’s life and work experience have prepared her for this job. An amazing array of organizations and individuals support her candidacy.  

No mayor can solve problems alone. The work is accomplished through city workers.  

Today, labor groups representing 82% of city employees, from firefighters and police to non-uniformed staff have endorsed Kim Lund. 

Four years ago, the same groups endorsed the incumbent. They changed their minds for a reason: Kim’s energy, vision and leadership skills. 

City employees know what’s really going on in City Hall. We would be wise to pay attention. 

Problems don’t solve themselves. With visionary leadership and a hard-working team, solutions are possible. 

Please vote for Kim Lund. 

Mark Asmundson

Former mayor, Bellingham


City government work is complex and challenging, and thus requires astute, insightful and creative leaders at the helm. Dan Hammill is one of these leaders and Bellingham needs him to be reelected as the city council member representing Ward 3.

Dan is a man of action who has been at the forefront of promoting numerous initiatives to prevent unnecessary incarceration along with the alternatives to ensure that happens. I can speak firsthand to the intensive labor Dan has committed to these efforts. I collaborated closely with him on several efforts while I worked for Whatcom County.

Dan was a leading force in the creation of the GRACE program (Ground-level Response and Coordinated Engagement), the ART program (Alternative Response Team) and the LEAD program (Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion). He had an instrumental role in establishing the Anne Deacon Center for Hope, a crisis stabilization facility for adults experiencing a behavioral health crisis. 

I was impressed with Dan’s steadfast commitment to ensuring the fruition of these programs. This involved extensive research, interviews, and ride-alongs with law enforcement, behavioral health specialists, the medical and housing communities, and especially people experiencing behavioral health challenges who were interfacing with the criminal justice system.  

Mostly, I was impressed with Dan’s intellect to understand and balance complicated nuances, knowing what is required to build effective systems of care, and his skill to accomplish these complicated goals. Dan’s experience, knowledge and ability to make good things happen in the community must continue as a reelected Bellingham City Council member.

Ann Deacon

Retired county human services manager


I am one of many Whatcom County Council District 5 residents who have awaited the opportunity to replace incumbent council member Ben Elenbaas with someone who will truly represent us. Ben has carried the banner of "No way no how" far too long.

And Jackie Dexter is the candidate we've been waiting for. An aquaculturalist and sustainable farmer who works at the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, Jackie is committed to balancing jobs and the environment. She wants to improve economic opportunities for working families in order to keep people out of homelessness. Her focus will include the working waterfronts at Blaine and Birch Bay.

Jackie and her husband have lived in Whatcom County for more than 18 years and are raising their children in Blaine. She has served as a member of the Whatcom Marine Resource Committee and as a volunteer for the Blaine Elementary School PTO. She supports expanding child care and early learning, and extending internet access to all corners of the county.

Above all, she will be a fresh, candid, authentic voice on the county council. She wants to hear and learn from all district constituents and is eager to truly represent us all. I, in turn, am eager to bring her positive, dynamic energy to the council and invite you to join me in voting for Jackie Dexter.

Myra Ramos

Lummi Island


Who should be your next Whatcom County sheriff? Present Whatcom County Undersheriff Doug Chadwick or present Blaine City Police Chief Donnell Tanksley? The position of county sheriff is unique in that he/she is "your" law enforcement leader — directly. The "sheriff" is not via a bureaucratic administration (so far), as municipal and state departments are. You elect who will be your "sheriff" — directly.   

Any individual who elects to function in a public peacekeeping role, line or command, deserves our respect and gratitude — explicitly. Both Doug and Donnell deserve this. Thank you both.

However, when it comes to evaluating which of these two valued law enforcement individuals is best suited to be your next Whatcom County sheriff, Undersheriff Doug Chadwick is eminently more qualified. His 29 impeccable years with the sheriff’s office, including being undersheriff for the past four, should be enough of a differentiating qualifier. He also has served as a narcotics detective field training officer; task force officer for the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives; and many other strategic supervisory roles. Doug has been a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, knows it well, and has inherent empathy for the county and its residents — not in simply pursuing another career objective.

Chief Tanksley is likely a sound law enforcement individual, however there’s little value for Whatcom County citizens to engage in an experiment in new leadership of the sheriff’s office.

Please find the time to familiarize yourself with Undersheriff Chadwick’s impressive background at votedougchadwick.com.

Peter and Susan Werner


Letters to the Editor are published online Wednesdays and a selection is published in print Fridays. Send Letters to the Editor to letters@cascadiadaily.com, 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. Letters should be submitted with an address/phone number to verify the writer's identity (not for publication).

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