Letters to the editor: October 12-19

The Editor:

I am writing this letter in support of Rachel Hrutfiord for Blaine City Council, Ward 2, Position 4. I have known Rachel and her family, as well as her husband Steve and his family, my entire life. They are our neighbors, friends and concerned members of our community. Rachel is a caring mother and informed citizen of Blaine. She is at a place now in her life that she can venture away from her children to serve our community. This is something she has wanted to do for many years and it’s her time to be active in government. She is aware of the issue facing Blaine and is informed about the needs and wants of our community. The operations of the city are nothing new to her since her husband is a long time employee at Public Works.

When people receive their mail-in ballots they need to be aware that she is a write-in candidate for Ward 2, Position 4. As a father with children in the schools, business owner in Blaine, active member of a city of Blaine board and as someone who cares about the future here – I ask you to write-in Rachel Hrutfiord as your vote for Blaine City Council, Ward 2, Position 4.

Garth L. Baldwin

The Editor:

As a long time Blaine resident and planning commissioner, I am writing to express keen support for Harry Robinson’s re-election to Blaine City Council.

Blaine’s steady, ongoing improvements are quite remarkable given the size of our population and budgetary constraints. This is because of our experienced city council members. Harry’s dedication, extensive business background and knowledge of government have enabled him to do an exemplary job as our mayor and city councilor at-large, as well as representing Blaine on multiple county and state-wide committees. He has the experience and ability that it takes to conduct city affairs. He is flexible, respectful of the points of view of others and always prepared.

Harry’s leadership enabled Blaine to survive the 2009 economic downturn without a budget deficit. His focus on long range planning and ability to work with city staff, advisory boards, commissions and other members of council have kept Blaine moving forward on a steady foundation.

Harry has helped Blaine achieve many significant improvements. Odell and Boblett Streets, for example, now have all the necessary power, sewer, and storm water systems in place to support large scale business growth. Other major street upgrades include Marine Drive, Peace Portal, H Street and Martin Street. With his leadership we also have a new City Hall, improved public policy and safety measures and a Strategic Economic Initiative (to name a few).

City council responsibilities are extremely complex and multifaceted, requiring a great deal of knowledge and experience. There is no doubt that Harry is the clear choice for the at-large council seat. Paul Greenough and Charlie Hawkins have also served Blaine exceptionally well. I hope the electorate will continue to vote for each of them.

Sue Sturgill, planning commissioner

The Editor:

I am writing to urge the residents of Blaine to re-elect Charlie Hawkins to Blaine City Council. I worked as a health care administrator in Blaine from 2005 to my retirement in 2016. I have always viewed him as being very supportive of growth and business vitality in Blaine. Most important is the fact that he is experienced in what it takes to run all aspects of Blaine government. Certainly Charlie Hawkins is not a single issue candidate; he cares about Blaine as a whole. Please re-elect Mr. Hawkins for balanced representation.

Wayne Weinschenk

The Editor:

We are at an important crossroads for our town and community of Blaine; help your town by voting for new council members this November!

There have been missed opportunities such as Ken Imus with his 16 properties he was going to develop downtown and the London Drug group, which wanted to purchase the mall, airport and Yorky’s strip. For example: they were going to bring in an Olive Garden on the corner of H Street and the truck route.

Also, what happened to Chuckanut Cheesecake and the factory they wanted to relocate here from Ferndale, employing 80 people? Have they been encouraged to stay and build?

How can one individual who was partially responsible for these terrible decisions now say on his campaign signs, “For proven leadership?” You call these decisions proven leadership? Those are just words and actions speak louder than words!

The treatment of businesses that are interested in bringing quality, charm and needed amenities need to be encouraged and welcomed – not treated like they have been.

Downtown and the mall should be bustling! If they were, then I would say folks sitting on the current council succeeded! But they and some of the city staff have failed terribly!

How do you help downtown, the mall and the community?

By making decisions that welcome, encourage and support not only those that want to develop, but also those that are currently offering services to visitors. Folks visiting also need to feel welcomed here.

Downtown should be a quality mix of various businesses offering the services visitors and residents can use, appreciate and be proud of!

You can’t fix a problem until you admit you have one, and denial isn’t a river in Egypt!

Put your common sense hats on, folks, and please vote for new council members in November. Our town deserves so much better!

Bill Becht

The Editor:

Why vote for Charlie Hawkins? What distinguishes him? The unequivocal answer is that his experience on Blaine City Council and his service to our community over many years gives him the critical background, knowledge and perspective.

Charlie’s commitment to serving the overall best interests of our community and integrity are hallmarks of his service. Charlie is a quiet guy. He listens, considers, and decides what will be in the best long term interest for our community. Sometimes those decisions are not popular, but he cares and has the integrity to persevere. We admire him for that, even while we might not agree with some votes he has cast.

As a council member, Charlie welcomes and listens to people’s concerns and suggestions for improvements. With life-long family ties here, he understands the challenges that must be addressed to bring Blaine from its “border town” history into the very different economic world our community faces today.

We all want Blaine to be a better place, now, and for those who follow us. We believe that Charlie Hawkins will continue to work for all of us, and will help guide Blaine to become the polished gem it can be.

Our city faces complex financial and economic development issues. Effective council action will require in-depth knowledge and understanding of these issues, our history and the legal framework. We believe that the direction of the council has been correct. With experience and proper guidance, Blaine will continue to evolve and grow. But it takes time; impatience does not make things work faster. Can Blaine afford to wait until new members of council come up to speed? We think not.

Charlie Hawkins offers us his deep love for our community, many years of commitment and service to our community (in many capacities), a historical and realistic viewpoint, patience, perseverance, integrity and hard work.

We believe that Charlie has the experience and will provide the appropriate guidance throughout this process. We urge you to vote for Charlie Hawkins.

Lois and Bob Franco

The Editor:

The “winds of change are comin’!” There is a new vibe in Blaine and a renewed interest in our city government. There is actually competition for council positions, which indicate that the “status quo” is being challenged. Hallelujah! Rachel Hrutfiord is a write-in candidate for Ward 2. It will take more time for voters to actually write in that name, but it will be worth it!

Rachel is an active member of our community; she is connected to many of our citizens through her work, community involvement and church. This helps her bring in new ideas, insight and young enthusiasm to a normal static city council.

Be a part of this new look to city council and write in Rachel Hrutfiord for Ward 2 city council. Remember – people living in all wards get to vote for candidates in other wards than those in which they live.

John Liebert

The Editor:

It’s not quite Halloween but I’m beginning to hear jingle bells as tidbits of Christmas creep into stores. I’m ready – I mean, I’m really ready. Most of my holiday shopping is done and my cards are even addressed. I can sit back, plan holiday dinners and relax as I watch shoppers hit the midnight sales on Black Friday.

I’ve always loved Christmas so when I hear the words “a war on Christmas,” I’m disturbed. I say “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Holidays” and I mean no disrespect. To me, “Happy Holidays” means several holidays combined … a short cut to Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. I think the majority of Americans feel the way I do. One has to be very thin-skinned to take the greeting as an insult.

I don’t think my Christian friends or relatives think I’m out to get them when I don’t send cards for Christmas but instead send them for New Year’s. It frightens me that some believe that by saying there is a war on Christmas, that it makes it so. It does not; it is a fabrication.

When Starbuck’s puts “Happy Holidays” on their paper cups, I don’t consider it a big deal and I actually resent the accusation that that philanthropic corporation is denouncing Christianity. One could say, “How silly or how fake.” Now coming from me, one might think that’s odd. Why? Because I’m a Buddhist and my husband is Jewish. Yet we both say “Merry Christmas.”

So get over it, grow up, get a grip on reality and enjoy all the holidays without some petty made-up conflict. There is enough conflict in the world without us creating even more. Let’s remember what we wish for most during this season: peace, both abroad and at home. Keep America great by practicing tolerance and honesty.

Merry Christmas everyone … a couple of months early!

Linda Huberman

The Editor:

In their fall edition of Business Pulse Magazine, Whatcom Business Alliance (WBA) seems to be doing a bang-up job using stories of local environmental business practices to provide a green camouflage for their attacks on environmental protectors in our own community.

One article is about the proposed Bellingham Organics complex that would feature a solar powered greenhouse with a closed-loop aquaponics system. The magazine reports the complex has been designed by a number of local Whatcom County businesses, 2020 Engineering among them. There is a highlighted box in the article featuring 2020 Engineering’s founder Mark Buehrer commenting on the “deep green resort” that the firm is also helping to design for Leonardo DiCaprio.

In this same fall issue though, WBA President Tony Larson makes this false statement, “On August 24, a group of demonstrators called #nodapl … No Dakota Access Pipeline a.k.a. Red Line Salish Sea, unlawfully entered the offices of Puget Sound Energy,” here in Bellingham. Ironically, there’s information in the article provided by a Bellingham police officer that lets us know the protectors were not trespassing. People have permission to enter a business building during business hours. Larson made the same false claim about water protectors who entered a U.S. Bank lobby earlier in the year.

Leonardo DiCaprio is known to be supportive of our water protectors, “standing with the Great Sioux Nation to protect their water and lands.” Let’s honor his May 2016 tweet and work with local water protectors to keep fossil fuels, like fracked gas, in the ground.

Dena Jensen

The Editor:

I am writing this letter in strong support of re-electing Harry Robinson, Charlie Hawkins and Paul Greenough to Blaine City

Since moving to Blaine 15 years ago, I have become a local property owner, business owner as well as a tenant of the city of Blaine.

During my time in Blaine, city council has had to deal with the economic impacts of 9/11, the brief closure of Semiahmoo Resort as well as the Great Recession among other economic issues.

It is my opinion that city council under the leadership of mayor Robinson and councilmembers Hawkins and Greenough has made fiscally responsible decisions such as the purchase of the new city hall building where my office is located for a fraction of the actual cost of building a new facility.

I believe that the city of Blaine has overcome potential economic problems and has become a more desirable place to live due to prudent decisions by city council.

In fact, many of my Canadian clients who move to the United States either on work permits or as permanent residents choose Blaine as their new home.

Please re-elect Harry Robinson, Charlie Hawkins and Paul Greenough to keep the city of Blaine moving in the right direction.

Leonard D.M. Saunders

The Editor:

I do not believe we need a new jail and will not be voting for the new jail tax that will be on the ballot. There was a jail tax approved in 2004 and $31.7 million was collected. No new jail was built. Why not? Where did that money go?

Sixty-two percent of Whatcom County inmates are nonviolent or low-level offenders, according to 2017 preliminary data findings from the Vera Institute of Justice. Why are we keeping these people in jail at very costly rates per person, especially if they are not dangerous, haven’t been convicted of a crime or simply can’t make bail?

The jail can be upgraded, but it must be maintained. Letting it fall into disrepair and then asking the voters for money to build a bigger, far more expensive jail is simply bad planning and regressive thinking. Crime rates have actually been dropping for many years, despite scare reporting to the contrary.

Instead of putting nonviolent mentally ill people in jail let’s move money into creating mental health services to treat them instead of locking them up. Jail is only a temporary solution and it is very costly. Haven’t we learned that by now?

Perhaps money could go to inexpensive housing to help move homeless people off the streets and into safer habitation. Is there an empty building, in an area with other facilities in place, that could be turned into housing? This would definitely be cheaper than locking people up and paying others to guard them.

If we could look at many of these people as needing our help instead of thinking ‘they must be punished’ we could move forward. Some people must be removed from the general population for our safety, but many do not need to be incarcerated for minor infractions or mental illness or because they have become homeless. When old, tired ideas aren’t working it is time to look for new solutions. A new, expensive jail is an old-fashioned, backward idea, offered up by people who have nothing more inventive to offer.

Alta Toler

The Editor:

Please take notice, Whatcom County citizens: The upcoming Port of Bellingham commission election on November 7 needs your urgent attention. A major issue at stake is the future of our undeveloped waterfront, and what will or will not happen there. There is a dramatic distinction between District 2 candidates Ken Bell and Barry Wenger; a Port for the wealthy versus a Port for the people. Wenger is focused on fostering waterfront development with community benefits: abundant public access, protection of the maritime trades, environmental stewardship and attraction of clean energy and green tech companies which will provide careers for Whatcom County children appropriate for the 21st century. Bell, with his longstanding and well-documented ties to the fossil fuel and coal industries, wants to sell off our waterfront assets to big developers and pursue development at any cost, putting industry needs before public needs; he is not the moderate and environmental steward he is claiming to be!

Wenger has 26 years’ of experience working to facilitate waterfront development around the state of Washington. He is a proven leader with profound knowledge of the issues, the players, the challenges and the legal regulations at stake. We must all ask ourselves this question: Will the Bellingham waterfront be sold to the highest bidder for pricey condos with inadequate cleanup (Bell) or will we choose to develop our most precious public asset, with care and attention, to create multiple benefits for all generations to come? Barry Wenger for Port Commission, District 2, on November 7!

Holly Harris

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