Get to know your 2019 general election candidates

The All Point Bulletin reached out to general election candidates running in competitive county and local races.  The statements of candidates who responded are printed below. This story was updated with more responses on October 24.

Whatcom County executive

Tony Larson

My name is Tony Larson. I was born in Whatcom County and have been actively engaged in the community in executive leadership roles for the past 35 years.

I’ve operated successful businesses, taken on challenging community projects and have been called on to assist in turning around struggling organizations. I am a youth coach, have been active in my church and served the community on Whatcom County Council, where I focused on transparency and strong fiscal governance.

I love our community. I’ve raised my family here and will create an environment in which our children will have the opportunity to stay here if they choose.

My support from community leaders and organizations is strong because I don’t just talk … I take action, with focus on achieving positive results.

The contrast between my opponent and I is significant: I’ve been a strong supporter of local businesses, industries and farmers for many years because I know that when they are successful, our community is stronger. I am endorsed by the Whatcom County Farm Bureau, BP Cherry Point Refinery Employees PAC, Phillips 66 and unions who want good jobs and a fair balance between economic opportunity and environmental protection.

My opponent has been on county council for five years and has consistently voted with the super-majority to stifle these industries and our farmers with unnecessary regulations.

I am endorsed by the mayors of Blaine, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson, Nooksack and Sumas, county executive Jack Louws, the Whatcom Affordable Housing Commission, the Whatcom Association of Realtors and Associated General Contractors because they trust me to lead the charge to create a county-wide housing strategy that will bring more supply online in appropriate locations to stabilize housing prices and put more people to work in construction. My opponent has had five years to work on this and has done nothing.

Also, I am endorsed by the Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, the president of the Bellingham Police Guild and Whatcom 7 Firefighters because they know I’m committed to keeping Whatcom County safe and clean and will provide them with the resources they need to do their jobs effectively.

We all know Whatcom County is changing. We’ve experienced 8.5 percent growth in the past five years alone. We see it in the increased traffic, housing prices and rents outpacing family wages, increases in homeless population and a sharp rise in substance addiction and mental health issues. Now is a pivotal time for us to act in order to avoid the pitfalls seen in other cities, like Seattle.

I will promote a robust, clean economy and attract high wage jobs and find compassionate solutions for our homeless that doesn’t include tent cities and illegal park camping and invest in root causes like substance addiction and mental health services.

These challenges and others we face are all solvable with good leadership and common sense. As your next county executive, I’ll remove the politics and replace it with solutions that work for you and your family. I’d appreciate your vote.

Satpal Sidhu

I have a passion to serve our community, and I bring a unique set of qualifications to tackle the issues facing our county. My campaign is about the investment we will make in our future. It is about leadership based on strong community values, thoughtful dialogue and a steady hand on the wheel of county government.

We are better than our current politics. We have more in common than what divides us. We must not be powerless to solve our common issues due to our inability to have civil and meaningful conversations. Here are a few of the issues which we must address as an entire community.

Environment and Climate Change: Climate change is an existential threat to the human species. For the past 150 years, we have not been cleaning up after ourselves. We must take full responsibility, stop polluting and take action to reverse this trend.

Housing Affordability and Land-Use Planning: The land we have already set aside for human habitation should be used in a way to accommodate more people. We cannot continue to develop ag lands and natural areas. At the same time, housing construction must be accelerated, and the county and municipalities will have to work together, and with the private sector, to make this happen.

Economic Development and Job Growth: My workforce development successes at BTC were recognized at the state level by two governors. I will bring this innovative approach to job creation and training to the county’s executive office. We need to transition from a retail economy to value-added processing and export-oriented manufacturing to grow our job base.

The Water Challenge: Water is the lifeblood of Whatcom County. However, a legacy of poor planning, pollution and now climate change threaten this resource. We must preserve and enhance the fish habitat, provide water for farmers and residents, all while improving our environment and water quality.

Legal and Criminal Justice System Reforms: I will be a proactive leader, promoting and implementing policies developed by the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force. This will include a long-term strategy to fund the alternates to incarceration, long-term care for mental health, addiction services, triage facility operations, and to invest in new and properly equipped jail building in Bellingham.

These ideas are not just slogans or talking points for me. My experience taught me that the quality of inputs and controls determines the quality of outputs. I do not have all the solutions, but I do have an open mind, intellectual curiosity and a willingness to listen to experts. I bring clarity of vision and leadership to identify practical solutions and build action plans to implement them.

Finally, I am an optimist! I firmly believe we live in the best place on earth with a great future for our kids and grandkids. This is my commitment to you: I will work tirelessly for you and with you over the next four years to achieve real progress on the tough issues facing our county. I hope for your support.

Whatcom County Council district 5

Ben Elenbaas

I am Ben Elenbaas, running for Whatcom County Council district 5. I seek to restore a balance to our council that residents deserve. I grew up on a farm. I work at an oil refinery. I live in a rural area. I help produce things that people need every day. I have been taught that our differences are what make us unique, and to embrace those differences as strengths.

In my role at the Cherry Point oil refinery, I lead a diverse team that works together to bring varied solutions to the challenges we face daily. Diverse teams seeking solutions are the most effective teams; this concept has been reinforced to me many times. While serving as the chair of the Charter Review Commission, I helped facilitate a process that listened to residents. What we heard was that they did not feel represented by our local government. We then brought forth ideas to voters intended to facilitate a more representative government, a true success for the people of Whatcom County.

While studying at WWU, I chose to design my own major through Huxley College of the Environment. I knew that understanding science, and our impacts on the natural world, would serve me well into the future. I am currently the president of the Whatcom County Farm Bureau and the vice president of the Cattlemen’s Association. In these roles I have worked tirelessly with local and state governments to produce good regulations that protect the environment, and protect our ability to farm. I was appointed to serve on the planning commission, but I often left scratching my head as I saw policy being brought forth intended to protect the environment, preserve farm land and provide housing options for our growing population, but didn’t often deliver. I saw public comment being ignored for fear of litigation from high dollar activist groups.

We have a homelessness issue, an affordable housing crisis, the agricultural and fishing industries are struggling. Local jobs are under attack. How did we get here? Is it a lack of understanding about the industries in our district, or an extreme agenda? We deserve better. One of the major concerns I’m hearing is that our current council continually tries to apply failed solutions expecting better results. Activists say that we can’t have clean water and agriculture. They say we can’t have clean air and thriving industries. In the world I live in, we have both, we must have both. This is the perspective I will bring to the council. Do we need another activist, or do we need experience-based solutions? I will seek to facilitate policies that will reflect the reality that healthy economies are vital for healthy environments and thriving communities. To help bring balanced solutions to local government that you deserve, I ask you to vote Ben Elenbaas for Whatcom County Council district 5.

Natalie McClendon

Natalie McClendon business portrait. Bellingham, WA. © 2018 Mark Turner

I’m running for Whatcom County Council to provide a strong voice for the voters of Blaine, Birch Bay, Point Roberts and the rest of the coastal district. I’ve been honing my leadership skills and building relationships around the district for almost 30 years. I’ve spoken with thousands of residents and I’ve heard about the issues that matter most. I’m ready to lead.

County council is your “city council” if you live outside of Blaine or Ferndale, which is most of the voters of the coastal district. They fix the roads, like the Birch Bay Drive storm damage, and they plan for the future by building the berm to protect Birch Bay from storms. They create and manage parks that enhance economic activity and quality of life, like the future Birch Bay Community Park, the parks in Point Roberts, and a bike/pedestrian trail between Blaine and Birch Bay. And they provide money for economic development projects like rural broadband. These are all things I’ll be working on with you as your councilmember.

County government also has responsibility for criminal justice (the sheriff, courts and jail) and the health and welfare of our neighbors. Affordable housing, homelessness, mental health and substance abuse treatment are all intertwined. We are taking the lead in working with all local jurisdictions as well as social service agencies to pursue holistic solutions to these difficult issues. We have a long way to go, but I feel we are on the right track and will support this work on the council.

While local politicians need to get the potholes fixed, we also need to plan for the future. As a grandmother, I work every day to make the world a better place for all our children. We must meet the challenges of climate change and work to transition to a clean energy economy locally. As a candidate and a Whatcom County planning commissioner, I am working with all stakeholders, including the local oil refineries, to reduce carbon pollution and encourage the creation of new family-wage jobs in clean energy, which will strengthen our economy and build shared prosperity.

Because of my deep commitment and understanding of our environmental challenges, I have been endorsed by the Sierra Club and Washington Conservation Voters. And because of my long-term support of working people and labor organizing, I have been endorsed by the Teamsters Union (representing the county jail employees), SEIU Local 1199 (representing workers at St. Joseph Hospital) and United Food & Commercial Workers Union 21 (representing many people you meet in grocery stores and retail shops in our communities). And to make me well-rounded, as a small business owner, I am active in the Ferndale, Blaine and Birch Bay chambers of commerce.

I know the issues that are important to people in the district. I’m ready to be a voice for district 5 on county council. With your support, I’ll roll up my sleeves and get to work for you.

Whatcom County At-Large position B

Carol Frazey

My name is Carol Frazey, and I am currently serving on Whatcom County Council. From my experience growing up on a farm, as a teacher, as a mother and as a business owner, I understand the delicate balance between preserving agricultural livelihoods, family-wage jobs and a healthy environment for future generations. My focus continues to be on a healthy Whatcom County for individuals, the environment, and the economy. We need all three to provide a strong foundation for a healthy community.

For Individual Health: We have recently passed a resolution to focus on the health and well-being of children from birth to age eight and their families. As a member of the Whatcom County Health Board and the Generations Forward work group, we are committed to working with the entire community to pull our resources together to ensure that our county’s youth have a healthy development through supportive services in nutrition, housing, education, and mental and physical health.

For Environmental Health: We are currently updating the shoreline management program to monitor and advise on how to protect our environment. We are seeing the effects of poor planning and protecting through our decreased salmon and orca population. We need to make sure our lands and waters are protected to provide a healthy environment for all.

For Economic Health: I am on the business and commerce advisory committee. We are looking for ways that we can help keep businesses here in Whatcom County and attract innovative businesses. The first area that we are looking at is how to establish work-force housing that allows people making a good wage to afford a mortgage.

For issues specific to Point Roberts: In the past year, I have visited Point Roberts four times to hear the needs of the residents. We need to work together to develop an economic plan and provide needed healthcare in the community.

For issues specific to Blaine, Birch Bay, Custer and Semiahmoo: We must work together with businesses, non-profits and the government to provide opportunities to north county’s youth and aging population.

David Ramirez

As a native Washingtonian, I am passionate about giving back to my community. My experience serving with community-minded organizations has instilled in me a strong desire to help Whatcom County reach its full potential by tackling the tough issues that affect us all.

Over the past several years living in Whatcom County, I have witnessed the decline of servant leadership in our community. Special interest groups are trying to take charge of the direction of our local issues which are hurting families in our county. I cannot stand by and watch this calculated attack on our businesses, farmers and homeowners. Therefore, I am running to bring back balance and common sense.

We are faced with many challenges in our county. The three I am passionate about are viable employment, rising housing costs and the environment. These are all non-partisan issues that affect all of us.

We need to protect the jobs we have now. Proposed regulations will have a negative impact on the current businesses and industry in the county. Sensible regulations will ensure existing jobs will stay in Whatcom.

Whatcom County is a beautiful place to live. Unfortunately, living in such beauty comes at an unnecessary cost. We are faced with a housing shortage caused by imposed regulations.

We need reasonable regulations that allow development of affordable single family and multi-family homes, thus balancing supply and demand.

I have been a Leave No Trace Master Educator for the past ten years. As a Master Educator, I have trained hundreds of youth in scouting on the importance of protecting our environment through the leave no trace principles. I believe that we can live in an environment like ours and allow business to thrive. This takes a partnership between our county council and our business partners.

I am actively involved in the community. I have served for over 20 years in the Boy Scouts of America as a volunteer as well as with other community organizations. I sat on the board of directors for the Whatcom Family and Community Network as a member at large, treasurer and the board president. The Whatcom Family and Community Network is a private non-profit organization whose purpose is to build the capacity of communities and organizations in Whatcom County to support children, youth and families so that they can develop the skills

and opportunities they need to lead healthy, productive lives.

For the past 10 years, I was the chief financial officer for HomeFront Therapies. HomeFront Therapies is at the forefront of providing leading edge therapy for our combat veterans and their families.

Your support is needed so that we can elect individuals who will listen to the people of this county. Please go to voteramirez.com to learn more about my campaign.

Whatcom County assessor

Rebecca Xczar

The assessor values properties within the county, maintains public information, provides public outreach on issues impacting property values, and manages an office of appraisers. While the assessor does not set the property tax rates, they value property for taxation. I am running for Whatcom County assessor to bring new ideas and a fresh perspective to this vital county position.

I am currently serving on the Ferndale City Council. I am also a certified residential real estate appraiser and have been appraising properties in Whatcom County for over 16 years. I am a third-generation real estate appraiser and I grew up in an appraisal office.

I am the Ferndale planning and land use committee chair. Prior to council I served on the Ferndale planning commission for three years, and the Ferndale parks board for the three years prior to that, chairing that board for two years. I am currently the council liaison to the planning commission, arts commission and parks board. I received my certificate of municipal leadership from the Association of Washington Cities within my first year on council. I have over 10 years’ public service and a strong passion to serve my community.

I use the assessor’s online system daily and the available information has been limited for many years. I have used seven other county assessor online systems over the years appraising property, and Whatcom County’s website has the least amount of information available of all of them. I will pursue additional technological advancements as well as find new ways to provide information, to ensure citizens have easy access to their property information.

While the assessor doesn’t make policy decisions, I am committed to providing information and outreach to the policy makers and citizens on issues impacting property values. While on the planning commission and the planning and land use committee, I helped shape zoning codes using my professional expertise to inform others on how those changes impact property values.

An important component to affordable housing in our community is community land trusts. Those properties are currently being assessed unfairly and I am committed to re-evaluating those properties.

I have a degree in business administration from WWU. I am a small business owner and have prior retail management experience. I am a mom and I manage a household. I love to learn. I am dedicated to maintaining a high level of professionalism, honest and fair valuations, and a positive working environment for the office employees.

I am endorsed by the Riveters Collective, Lummi Indian Business Council, 42nd legislative district representative Shewmake, Senator Lovelett, and councilmembers from several cities and Whatcom County. If elected, I will be the first woman to serve as the Whatcom County assessor.

I have both the elected official and professional experience needed for this position. My passion for land use and community service, my background and experience, and my love for Whatcom County make me the ideal candidate for Whatcom County assessor. I would be honored to have your vote.

John Romaker

I’m John Romaker, candidate for Whatcom County assessor. I have been chief deputy assessor here for nearly 29 years, working closely with assessor Keith Willnauer to deliver fair and efficient service to all of Whatcom County. With a career spanning 36-plus years in property assessment valuation, I am the most qualified candidate to lead this office to even higher levels of performance and customer service.

This office is solely responsible for the highly-specialized work required to deliver annual assessments for nearly 120,000 accounts. As deputy assessor, I’ve had a key leadership role in managing this office of 30 employees and a $3.4 million budget, providing timely and accurate information to property owners, county administrators and dozens of local government entities.

From rural Custer to the waterside communities of Point Roberts, Blaine, Semiahmoo and the greater Birch Bay area, each has unique qualities. With a higher concentration of out-of-area owners in many neighborhoods, this region can experience more rapid or dynamic market changes affecting real estate transactions. With the opportunity to serve as your next assessor, I will bring an understanding of the history and characteristics of this special corner of Whatcom County and be ready to lead from day one.

I am particularly focused on expanding opportunities for remote access to the services the assessor’s office provides. Earlier this year, I had the privilege of witnessing as our governor signed into law measures to expand access to tax relief programs for thousands more seniors, disabled persons and veterans. This modification to existing law includes provisions for online application and renewal methods. I intend to explore and implement this and other tools to improve and extend customer service outreach if elected.

This is a crucial election for Whatcom County. We’re electing a new county executive, Ferndale and Bellingham will select mayors, and many important county council, city council, school board and special district positions are on the ballot. My long-established relationships with staff, administrators and other officials will be beneficial during this transition.

It’s critically important that the assessor’s office continue to operate at a high level of performance, fairly valuing property and informing local governments. That’s why many of Whatcom County’s most respected officials have endorsed me in this election.  They include outgoing assessor Keith Willnauer, county executive Jack Louws, county treasurer Steve Oliver, county prosecuting attorney Eric Richey, and recently retired prosecuting attorney Dave McEachran, as well as the mayors of Ferndale, Lynden, Blaine, Sumas, Nooksack and Everson. These leaders have seen my work in 29 years as chief deputy assessor and know that I’m ready to lead the assessor’s office with no transition gaps.

Whatcom County sheriff

Joy Gilfilen

“No new taxes. No new jail.” We already pay enough. We already own three jails. Spending more on an unsustainable business model doesn’t work. Let’s solve the problem at its roots. In 2015, I wrote a report called “Stop Punishing Taxpayers – Start Rebuilding Community” that explains why we must stop expanding the “school to prison pipeline. It helped voters to reject the sales tax initiatives in 2015 and 2017.

Electing a new sheriff brings new management to implement prevention alternatives that put people back to work and create taxpayers instead of tax consumers.

Of course, I support law enforcement. I support solving the serious issues of crime, and of taking care of victims of violence. Simultaneously, I have learned that punishing non-violent people is self-destructive. I can bring more safety to the streets by reducing the recidivism rate, by reducing mental illness through early intervention and prevention. Let’s provide pre-arrest support for conflict resolution, rehabilitation and restorative justice solutions.

My background is in human achievement, not law enforcement. I can use these skills to better support the 200 people inside the sheriff’s office who are highly trained in police skills. I bring whole new perspectives to solve complex problems in a way that exposes new opportunities.

As president of the Restorative Community Coalition, I researched different layers of the justice system. I found that an arrest alone (whether people are guilty or not) is debilitating to taxpayers, to victims and to families of inmates. One dollar in incarceration costs multiplies to $11 in social services losses to taxpayers. For the family, it gets worse, costing $3,000 to $30,000 within days – typically paid to outside companies.

This downspiral ripples out to create cycles of family trauma, addiction, abuse, mental illness, poverty and homelessness. If we intervene earlier in the cycle, we get a better return. For example, just intervening with drug addiction, the stats show a $7 positive impact for every dollar invested. That means helping people in crisis can produce a net gain of $18 in public safety.

Elected as sheriff, my priorities are to immediately stop hemorrhaging taxpayer dollars on “planning to build” a new jail. Instead, let’s just “fix it now!” Second, move the sheriff’s office out of the basement of the jail to better quarters. This makes space and improves efficiency in emergency operations. Third, refocus the work release facility into a short stay facility that helps get people fair and honest justice, and helps them get back on their feet immediately so that they fix their lives and repair any community damage they may have caused. Fourth, implement the recommendations of the VERA Institute of Justice to cut waste out of administration. Fifth, start investing in community facilities in different cities across the county to bring programs and services that help local families thrive. This builds all cities directly.

For more information, go to joyforsheriff.com or to my Facebook page, Joy for Sheriff 2019.

Bill Elfo

I’m honored to have served as your sheriff since 2003. Much has been accomplished. Crime rates and violence plummeted, gangs and drug trafficking organizations were disrupted and deputy availability has increased. When safe and appropriate, deputies are increasingly leveraging community resources to divert people with mental health and substance abuse problems from jail to pathways for treatment. Specialized mental health deputies intervene in the most complex and volatile situations. Groundbreaking for a Crisis Stabilization Center to provide law enforcement with viable alternatives to jail for those needing mental health and substance abuse treatment occurred and a $900,000 federal law enforcement grant was awarded for diversion and treatment of those addicted to drugs.

I’m a former Blaine police chief and resident and know our area needs. Community-policing and crime prevention efforts were enhanced through the Birch Bay neighborhood and Point Roberts resident deputy programs. Grants were acquired for a vessel to patrol the coast and enhance capabilities in Birch Bay and Point Roberts. Funds were awarded to improve public safety radio systems for law enforcement/fire/EMS that will enhance coverage in Blaine, Semiahmoo, Custer, Point Roberts and beyond. Preparation for disasters was enhanced through grant-funded tsunami warning systems in the coastal portions of these areas.

I worked with responsible officials to arrange critically needed safety and security improvements to the jail and refocus on a more humanely and safely designed facility. Prudent policies and programs to prevent recidivism, reduce incarceration, and utilize space in other jails mitigated overcrowding. Incarcerated people now have opportunities for education and treatment for substance abuse and mental health disorders. We have the most robust jail alternatives program in Washington including electronic monitoring. Eligible offenders often can maintain employment and family connections. County court’s use of jail space was reduced by 12 percent.

Emergency management planning and exercises made our community better prepared to mitigate and recover from disasters. I testified before Congress resulting in millions in grants to enhance responses. Next week, an exercise will simulate an oil train derailment at the border and test our plans, response and coordination.

I desire to continue working with our community in expanding these successes in protecting our safety and maintaining our quality of life.

Education and Experience: B.S./M.S. Criminal Justice; Juris Doctor; experienced in all facets local law enforcement including service as police chief, prosecutor, police legal advisor. FBI Command College, National Law Institute, multiple prestigious national police administration programs. Vice chair of Criminal Justice Training Commission; past president of Washington Sheriffs’ Association. Licensed attorney (inactive).

Community Service: Boys and Girls Club corporate board 10 years, recipient National Service to Youth Award; Brigid Collins Family Service Center Corporate/Advisory Board-2018 Sister Brigid Collins Award; Humane Society Woof and Whiskers Award; former Rotary Club member and Paul Harris Fellow.

Endorsements: every member county council; Whatcom prosecutor; Whatcom executive; police chiefs; deputies guild; Teamsters representing sheriff’s corrections deputies and support; FOP representing sheriff’s command staff and Blaine police officers; organizations representing law enforcement in all cities and state troopers. IAFF#106 and Ferndale firefighters.

Port of Bellingham commissioner district 3

Anthony Distefano

My 26-year career has included a variety of work both at land and at sea. My experience includes being an engineer constructing and commissioning the Arctic Challenger at the Bellingham Shipping Terminal, operating passenger vessels in Alaska, working for tribal governments, working in agriculture in Whatcom County and advocating for the maritime economy and working families through my work as a union steward. I currently work as a deckhand for the Washington State Ferries.

From interpreting various contracts, lobbying in both the Washington and Alaska state legislatures and coordinating campaigns to bring public awareness of labor issues, I have been at the frontlines of dispute resolution and worker advocacy, and I am determined to face the unique challenges that a working port may encounter in these dynamic times. I believe that as port commissioner, having a wealth of diversity in marine-related experience can provide the unique outlook needed to negotiate our community’s future, while we balance our obligations to the public, environment, treaties, partnerships and the citizens that the Port of Bellingham serves.

As port commissioner, my focus would be a longer range view of how we administer our public lands; preservation and expansion of our marine trades, cargo and fishing fleets to bring living wages to Whatcom; and investing in our infrastructure to attract the developments that bring a just transition to a sustainable economy.

Currently, Blaine Harbor remains in disrepair. With complaints of failing bulkheads, a sawtooth dock unusable for its purpose, a fish buyers’ building condemned this year when the floor gave way under the weight of a forklift and the parking lot and port-owned roadways riddled with potholes, we need to address problems that have been hardly attended to in over 10 years. While the port has made progress, we are facing a timeline that doesn’t allow for half-measures while our infrastructure is failing.

The port can take leadership by establishing solid and progressive policy in all aspects of our future planning decisions, not just by following minimum guidelines. We have an opportunity to set reachable goals for reducing pollution, greening our stormwater infrastructure and reducing greenhouse gases by leading locally on a global crisis. Additionally, Broadband for All will establish a path forward for a renewable energy infrastructure, with the right leadership.

I believe that investment is not a sacrifice. We can’t wait for the state to save us; let’s build our community together.

Birch Bay: Birch Bay is addressing the coming effects of sea-level rise and climate change with the berm project – the port can follow suit and be front and center in making substantive preparations as well in all port decisions. We can set goals and policy, not just follow minimum guidelines.

Custer: Custer would benefit from a goal of connecting every home and business in Whatcom County with fiber optic broadband. I believe we need to have a vision of what our future looks like, and plan for that, rather than a conservative project. Development needs infrastructure investments. Let’s connect Whatcom County.

Point Roberts: I believe Point Roberts deserves an economic development plan that isn’t 20 years old. The port completed one in 1999; it is time that we assessed what is needed after two decades.

Blaine: Blaine is due for some consideration – known issues for a decade have now led to a position that, even with the political will to fix problems, it will be impossible to address as permits federally are frozen, according to a meeting this year. Infrastructure should be invested in, not divested.

Bobby Briscoe

Four years ago, Whatcom County voters elected me port commissioner for the Port of Bellingham in the 3rd district. I ran for office because as a commercial fisherman, I witnessed decisions negatively impacting the fishing community and maritime industries at our ports. I believe that if a person can improve things by stepping up and being a part of the solution, they ought to.

My background as a small business owner and commercial fisherman served me well in preparing for the helm of the commission. As a fishing boat captain, I make decisions every day that affect the safety of my crew and boat and make choices that could mean the difference between a good season and an economic loss. I am a judicious decision-maker. Proper planning and thoughtfulness prevents expensive mistakes and eliminates the necessity of having to fix the results of those blunders.

Continuity in leadership is an enormous advantage that our county has the option to vote for during this election.

Currently, I serve as commission president. Our port commission is operating with excellent efficiency and continues to make great strides toward redirecting the port to be the economic driver for Whatcom County that it is intended to be by statute.

My track record includes: finding a path forward in complex airport labor negotiations; bridging divides between the port and the tribes; watch-dogging port actions to protect our A2 bond rating and taxpayers’ wallets; fostering port action toward a clean energy future with a carbon neutral footprint; bringing the Blaine Harbor reconstruction to fruition; ensuring a high quality airport that serves local residents’ needs first; and improving facilities for the commercial fishing and seafood processing.

If re-elected I will continue working towards: attracting new businesses to Whatcom County to increase the number of living wage jobs and ensuring a working future for next generations; improving fish hatchery production to benefit the orcas and fishing opportunities for all user groups; ensuring responsible environmental clean-ups – such as the ASB pond site; fully implementing the fiber optic expansion providing high speed internet access to all of Whatcom County; continuing to ensure that the taxpayers’ interests are honored by port decisions; building a container barge terminal on our waterfront; supporting public/private partnerships that encourage innovation and entrepreneurship; and more – see briscoeforport.com.

I am a lifetime Whatcom County resident. My wife Carol and I recently celebrated 40 years of marriage. We are fortunate that our two sons and their families live in Whatcom County. My family provides the driving force behind my commitment to help Whatcom County offer a local economy that supports our youngest generation.

I am honored by the endorsements of the following organizations that support my re-election: Northwest Washington Central Labor Council; IAFF106 Bellingham/Whatcom Firefighters Association; Lummi Indian Business Council; International Longshore & Warehouse Union; Washington Teamsters Legislative League; Local 292 Washington Laborers Union; Whatcom County Association of Realtors; Whatcom Commercial Fishermen’s Association; Washington Farm Bureau.

And I would be honored by your vote November 5.

Blaine school district director district 2

Todd Berge

As a school board member, I’m excited to continue strong partnerships within the school district, and the Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts communities, where decisions are made in the best interests of educating and providing opportunities to our children. I want to continue building great improvements made in having a safe, fiscally sound school environment that fosters stability for all at our schools.

Serving on your Blaine school board to improve the educational experience for all students has been most important for me. We’re nearly done with major capital projects that included remodeling, but also expanded the increased need for high school facilities. My efforts to support improved technology to increase safety for all students, teachers and staff must continue, along with focusing on a curriculum to challenge and better prepare our students for college and careers after graduation.

Teachers and administrators work hard, being invested in the success of their students and our community. I support professional development to ensure the best quality of curriculum and teaching available. Leading those quality standards are personally important to me as my own family are Borderites. My two children are BHS graduates, with a grandson attending Blaine Primary School.

Dougal Thomas

I think it’s time for a fresh perspective and fresh leadership to meet the challenges of a new generation. I’m a long-time Borderite who hopes to serve the interests of all community members with a strong focus on the students of Blaine school district.

My family and I have lived in Blaine for 15 years and my children are students in the Blaine school district. I was also a student at Blaine Middle School. I have been involved in education for the past 24 years either as a teacher or a coach. I am looking forward to contributing to the Blaine, Point Roberts and Birch Bay communities in a new way on the school board. I hold Bachelor’s and Master’s of Education degrees, and taught math and health at the K-12 and community college levels. I want to enhance the academic and extra-curricular opportunities for students in our community. Student access to a variety of programs and facilities is extremely important to do this.

I want all of our students to have a hope for a brighter future. As a member of the school board and an educator, it will be important to me that the Blaine school district provides the necessary strategic vision, resources and leadership to our students, teachers and administrators. We need to address the many challenges of a technology driven economy and find innovative ways to better equip our students with the best education possible for their future. I would like to see the Blaine school district, as the center of our community, make itself more accessible and integrated with the community. It is an exciting time for our district with completion of the high school imminent and the hiring of a new superintendent. I will be a reasonable and responsible voice with an unwavering commitment to the community that I love.

Blaine school district director district 4

Charles Gibson

I am running for another term of office on the Blaine school board (position four) to continue serving our community in this special way. Over the past 12 years, I have been privileged to get to know many of Blaine school district’s outstanding teachers, staff, administrators and students. I’ve seen the primary goal shared by all our employees:  to provide the best possible care and education of the children and teens of our communities of Birch Bay, Point Roberts and Blaine.

Here’s a little background I bring to this position. I am a father of four adult children who all graduated from the Blaine school district. They all were well prepared for college and graduate school and each is well grounded in a profession as a lawyer, two professional engineers and a doctor of epidemiology (I had to look it up! the study of population health). I have grandchildren attending our Blaine Primary School. I’m 72 years young and have been the pastor of Northwood Alliance Church for the past 25 years. But I’m best known as the husband of nurse Gibson who served as a Blaine school nurse for 23 years.

Of course, the main task I have as a school board member is to work with the other four board members to oversee the policies that control the operation of our school district. In addition, we review, adjust and approve all annual operating budgets of the school. Recently, we had the challenge of recruiting and hiring a new superintendent to replace Dr. Spanjer who retired this summer. We also make final decisions on school bonds and levies for new construction, remodeling, and special projects. On a regular basis, we receive detailed reports on the education and extracurricular programs for each school.

I’m pleased that this is a volunteer position for our board even though we could receive modest compensation as provided by law.

Some of the recent accomplishments that our board has implemented include the passage of a substantial construction bond primarily for Blaine High School, a successful capital levy bond for a new field stadium and soon-to-be-installed artificial field turf.

A major matter that I look forward to working on is the long term need for a school in Birch Bay.  Funds to purchase land for this school were included in the recent construction bond. Work is underway to determine the most suitable location. A fully developed school will take major new funding as well as extensive site development, but a good first step would be to utilize the land we purchase for playgrounds and sports fields.

Another personal goal is to support and encourage our new superintendent in his crucially important role in our district. Although Dr. Granger is extremely well qualified and experienced, it seems good to me that he has board members who have extended experience with school matters and the unique history of our town and school.

I would be honored to serve another term on our school board.

Tana Perkins Reneau

It is my privilege to serve our students, families, staff and community. Providing children with an outstanding education has been my life-long passion. Collaborating with teachers to assess, reflect upon, and improve our professional practice is a highlight of my work. Coming alongside families to offer support, resources, and partnership gives my work depth and meaning. I bring fervor, experience, knowledge, and longevity to this role.

As an educator, a parent, administrator, and community leader, I have the proficiency to serve students, families, staff, and community in ways that advocate for education in the 21st century. Leading students within the community and parenting six children (ages 3 to 15), I am vested in every aspect of our local school system that shapes and influences their growth and development. As an elected school board member, I am committed to the continuous change that is required for students to rise to their full potential. My experience and knowledge bring balance between the daily operations, current initiatives, and the overarching decision-making processes that impact our schools and the educational outcomes envisioned across the district.

The highest performing education systems are those that integrate equity with a high quality and strategic approach. My involvement and familiarity with research-based best practices and cultural responsiveness bring a strong understanding of positive school cultures and learning communities that foster academic and professional growth for all members of the school district. I promote and encourage partnerships between teachers, support staff, students, families, administrators and the community, to provide every student with equity, access, value and the opportunity to learn at high levels.

I build a collaborative culture with stakeholders; within this culture, independent strengths come together to clarify the fundamental purpose and achieve common goals. We engage in a collective effort that identifies and eliminates systemic barriers that prevent our children from a valuable and equitable educational experience. As a member of the Blaine school board, I encourage many voices to unite to build capacity in our schools to guarantee rigorous and meaningful teaching and learning. Collaborative efforts lay the foundation that generates responsible, college bound, and career-ready members of society. We must maintain a school culture where every child has trusted adults reinforcing the fact that every student can learn, grow, and achieve high standards. I am an advocate for every child. I roll up my sleeves, walk in the trenches, and stand in the gap for students, families, and teachers. Your vote will not be taken lightly.

 

Point Roberts park commissioner position 1

Hugh Wilson

My name is Hugh Wilson and I am running for Point Roberts park commissioner position 1. I have been a resident of Point Roberts for many decades, and I believe in our community and that our community spirit can be improved with more use of our community center.

I have never previously stood for public office, but feel that now is the time. I have been involved with many of the families in this community. The Point Roberts Community Center was always a focal point and a place that creates that spirit and its cherished memories. Volunteering there, I have had people say to me they remember baking bread as children at the community center and the smell of baking bread still gives them a feeling of safety and happiness. I would be proud to bring that memory back into our lives!

I am a professional realtor and a tradesman in Point Roberts. Over the years I have given to the community, volunteering through our schools, park service, working with seniors and helping individuals in the community. My work has taken me into many different people’s homes and created many meaningful friendships, and I believe this exposure to very different people will help me bring the community together, and get the highest and best use of our community center and parks.

The community center is about memories and getting things done in the present and it is important in times of crisis and times of joy. I believe my knowledge and knowing the people one on one in this community will make me the best commissioner. Past commissioners have done an excellent job of working on our parks and improving our community center, but more is to be done if we are also to improve our spirit.

 

Bennett Blaustein

64 years old and retired

Served one full term as a commissioner on the Point Roberts Park and Recreation District

 It has been my pleasure to become part of this community and work with many of the wonderful people and groups that make Point Roberts unique. The park district has seen massive increases in the use of the community center and Baker Field over the past four years going from an average of 27 hours per week of use to 37 hours per week. I hope to continue helping groups and individuals from our community so we can maximize utilization of our park district assets through a balanced and equitable approach that allows us to increase our recreational activities while helping to preserve historical assets and open space for future generations.

The highlights of my term as park commissioner included running daily operations for the park district for a large portion of my current term before training our program and operations manager. I am proud of providing a trail maintenance program including the creation of the Enchanted Forest Trail. Revamping over 2,000 feet of new trails to replace damaged or seasonally flooded trails. Operating the community center with the help of many volunteers as a shelter during our disastrous December 2018 storm. Getting a grant for high speed internet access to the community center. Organizing the Kids Camp this past summer. Reaching agreements with the marina to provide access so we could attempt to restart our kayak program, and the Historical Society to provide a new History Center and, finally, helping finish our new public library. I have also worked at refreshing the community center which is slowly being done in stages with new paint, new flooring, new septic, and refurbished kitchen.

I would like to continue to work on these projects through the park board. I believe the board should hire a second part time employee who could primarily work on developing and running programs for the park district while allowing the program and operations manager to maintain assets and assist groups who use the park facilities. I would also like to develop a volunteer group to help keep our trails clean and assist the community center with large events. My last goal would be to increase our protected park lands through the acquisition of properties adjacent to Baker Field.

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