It’s been an honor to serve my community over the last decade. I've talked to countless community members about the challenges facing the Bellingham community. I want to see a government that works for all people. I am focused on the solutions needed for today and for generations to come. That means keeping working families safe and healthy through economic development, affordable housing, clean water, and a healthy environment.
Business and Economic Development
During the pandemic, our small and large local businesses suffered, which means working families are suffering as a result. I am committed to giving our communities the tools they need to recover, prosper, and return to an economy primed to thrive. Providing businesses with direct assistance and modern infrastructure will help meet current and future workforce development needs. This means investing state and federal dollars in community revitalization and municipal broadband deployment.
I look forward to collaborating with the City of Bellingham, Bellingham Regional Chamber, Downtown Bellingham Partnership, WWU Small Business Development Center, and the Port of Bellingham as we continue to support and grow our local businesses and economy.
Southern Resident Killer Whales. Photo: NOAA via Flicker (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
As a member of the Whatcom County Climate Impact Advisory Committee, I co-authored Whatcom’s updated Climate Action Plan, but this plan cannot gather dust on the shelf. As your county council member, I will put this plan into action. To combat climate change, we must address climate resiliency in Whatcom’s built and natural environments. This includes land use, sustainable growth and development, buildings, energy, transportation, and infrastructure while ensuring protection of our natural resources, ecosystems, and working lands.
Whatcom County needs a long-term and sustainable solution to Cherry Point. Investing in greater clean energy, rather than fossil fuels, is a top priority. As the energy industry evolves, I will fight to retain good-paying jobs at Cherry Point without increasing environmental impact.
Clean water and clean air are both critical to a healthy environment, our wellbeing, and our economy. Access to clean, safe drinking water is a right, and ensuring this should be a priority in any decisions made by the county. This means preventing runoff of harmful pollutants like phosphorus, fecal coliform, and heavy metals.
I fully support the Nooksack adjudication. If there's enough water, we can restore healthy populations of salmon in our streams and rivers. Right now we are facing a time when there is not enough water. Honoring tribal treaty rights and protecting water resources is one of the most important steps we can take to conserve water and combat climate change.
Making meaningful investments now will help restore our water quality and quantity. Between a potential federal infrastructure bill, a state transportation package, and our own local transportation plan, there are opportunities to leverage local spending. By investing in stormwater infrastructure, protecting and preserving lands, reducing impermeable surfaces, we can begin to heal our watershed, all while investing in jobs that will build our community.
We can do more together. I am committed to working with the tribes, federal, state, and local partners to address the issues on Lake Whatcom. Making these investments now will benefit the health of our community for generations to come, and reduce water treatment costs for the future.
Housing and Homelessness
As a member of the City of Bellingham Community Development Advisory Board, I know that homelessness looks different in different communities and a one-size-fits-all approach is not the solution.
A solution to homelessness is housing. We must think across the entire spectrum including permanently affordable, workforce, and supportive housing, behavioral health services, and zoning and land use policies. While we already have phenomenal housing partners and projects already in play, I am grateful the County Council approved the 1/10 of 1% tax as authorized by HB 1590. The County Council will be positioned to spend this money wisely on solutions that our community desperately needs such as affordable housing and shelters.
Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform
Law enforcement needs to evolve to meet the changing needs of our community today. This means a more holistic approach that addresses our behavioral health crisis and focuses less on punishment and more on restorative justice, diversion and support services. This is why I support programs such as Ground-Level Response And Coordinated Engagement (GRACE), Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), Teen Court, Drug Court, Mental Health Court, Crisis Stabilization Center, embedding additional social workers into law enforcement and first responder agencies, and ensuring that those who are arrested are housed in humane and safe conditions.
Whatcom County continues to be a leader across our state when it comes to criminal justice reform. I look forward to continuing to support this good work, including standing up the Racial Equity Commission and completing the criminal justice needs assessment.
Equity and Diversity
I am committed to fighting for a more progressive and representative democracy with policies that better serve all people, especially those who have been historically underserved. I will seek input from people with different identities from mine in order to more fully represent our community because we all belong in all places where decisions are being made. Racism and discrimination is embedded into our policies and systems at every level of government. I have directly engaged with the state process of including equity and diversity in all decisions so that we can combat racism together.
At the local level, we moved towards restorative justice and equity, but there is still a lot of work we have to do. I plan on working with my colleagues and the Whatcom Racial Equity Commission to intentionally incorporate equity in all budget and policy decisions. In this time of healing, we must acknowledge the disproportionate impact to underrepresented communities and work diligently to correct historical injustices that continue to impact our community members. Our government needs to better serve and represent all communities, especially those who have been historically marginalized, disenfranchised, underrepresented, and underserved and acknowledge and honor the treaty rights of sovereign Tribal nations. I am committed to this on day one.