Letters to the Editor: October 19-25

The Editor:

All of us at the Community Assistance Program would like to say a huge thank you to everyone in our community who donated coats and other winter clothing to the annual CAP/Interfaith Coalition winter coat drive.

This year, 669 coats were donated; 526 coats as well as socks, gloves, and many beautiful handmade hats and scarves were given out. Of the items left over, some will be distributed at the Blaine Clothing Bank through the winter, while others were given out at the Bellingham coat distribution last Friday.

We also want to thank the churches, businesses and other organizations that were collection points for the coat drive, as well as the volunteers who helped out. Every year we are amazed at the generosity of people in this community. Thank you all for helping to keep our neighbors warm through the winter months ahead.

Linda Bennett, director

The Editor:

I am writing to urge all Blaine voters to cast their vote in November for Alicia Rule. Blaine needs an infusion of youth and new ideas. Candidates who have been in these positions for years are much less likely to entertain new ideas and try new things. It isn’t always true that what has worked for the last 50 years will work for the next 50.

I have lived in Blaine since 2002. Not as long as some of you, but long enough to see that the folks who make all the decisions for Blaine do not always or often think of those of us who currently have children growing up here, who have to travel outside of Blaine to get affordable goods for our families, who are the ones moving into the area in need of affordable rentals and family homes.

I can honestly tell you that prior to Alicia Rule entering into this race, I did not know much about what was happening in this city. Oh, sure I could have attended the weekly council meetings but because of those items mentioned in the second paragraph my family is often too busy to allow for weekly council meetings. I think that is how some folks would like it to stay.

However, because of Alicia and her view point that we all should know what is going on in this town –whether we can attend the meetings or not – and her dedication to finding ways to let more folks know (even though just letting people know about issues has caused opposition)–  Question: why would it ever be wrong to let people know what issues and expenditures of monies are being determined by their city council? I feel like I am a better informed citizen of this city.

I for one applaud this philosophy, and the very prospect that Alicia Rule will help bring this community together for a brighter future for all of us, is why she will get my vote in November.

Stacy Berndtson

The Editor:

I write here to ask everyone to write in Rachel Hrutfiord for Blaine City Council Ward 2! Our community has been stagnant for quite some time. We cannot keep doing the same things and expect different results.

Rachel understands what this town needs. She grew up here and is raising her own family here. She is one of us who are forced leave Blaine for a lot of necessities. She is one of us that sees the need for productive things for our kids to do in this town. She is one of us that sees a need to fill the empty storefronts that is our downtown. She is one of us that sees the need for streamlined procedures for new business owners. She is one of us that sees the need for living wage jobs for our residents. She is one of us.

Blaine needs someone willing to go to the people and figure out what we need. I work full time and have six kids. I cannot make it to council meetings. The vast majority of the residents of Blaine cannot attend council meetings. This doesn’t mean we don’t care and we shouldn’t have a voice in what happens in our town. I believe Rachel Hrutfiord will bridge the gap between the decision makers and the people of Blaine.

Rachel Hrutford is the right choice for city council ward 2; she’s the right choice for the people of Blaine. It’s your voice and your choice! Write in Rachel Hrutfiord for ward 2!

Mylissa Bode

The Editor:

This November I intend to vote for Charlie Hawkins again for city council. I am always reassured when I know Charlie is going to vote on issues related to the zoning sanctity of our residential neighborhoods. Charlie won’t tolerate greedy developers attempting to manipulate our residential zoning codes for short term profit, under the guise of “economic progress.” We homeowners and parents don’t have time nor the inclination to monitor every attempted zoning change in Blaine, but we can depend on Charlie to protect our interests in maintaining our neighborhoods as the safe, secure and special places they are. Please join me in voting to retain Charlie Hawkins as our representative to Blaine City Council.

Tom Burton

The Editor:

I don’t know how anyone who attended the candidate forum on October 17 could come away with any thought other than, “Now I understand the problem. We need new people on the council!”

John Yirak

The Editor:

I urge Blaine voters to retain the incumbents who are running for re-election to their seats on city council.

Here’s why. The primary job of the council is administrative and supervisory. We can dream all we like about ways to make Blaine grow and wish we had a more vibrant downtown, but when faced with the realities of what that means, it becomes clear that this is an uphill battle that requires competence and experience, and a willingness to do what’s possible rather than fail at what’s beyond our reach.

Our present council has made solid progress in a difficult economy. They have hired a highly competent city administrator in Dave Wilbrecht. Lincoln Park is a new jewel in east Blaine. Houses are once again being built locally, which means more local customers and there are solid plans for more.

Downtown is finally attracting new businesses like the Drayton Harbor Oyster Company, Edaleen Dairy and the new Vault Wine Bar. Progress isn’t easy, but it is happening now. Small solid steps are better than giant leaps that sound good but don’t work. Where’s the medical facility that was supposed to replace the airport? Now we have neither.

So, we should go with what’s working. Candidates with a feel good agenda and no civic experience could easily mean a return to recent years when council meetings were long, contentious and unproductive. We’ve finally turned that page; turning it back means more years of wishing and dreaming instead of solid accomplishment.

Jack Kintner

The Editor:

I am writing in support of Eric Davidson for Blaine City Council, Ward 3. I have known Eric for years and it is rare that someone has as much passion for Blaine. Eric has been great in bringing the community together, keeping neighbors informed about ongoing issues in town and the neighborhood. Eric is a leader that raises awareness of issues that affect families in our neighborhood and Blaine, and on several occasions has been instrumental in letting the city council know that the citizens supported or rejected issues. I have seen Eric encourage many people to come down to council meetings to let their voices be heard – issues that lead to real changes in the quality of life in Blaine.

Eric has been active as chairman of the Public Works Committee and helped start our Lettered Streets Neighborhood Association and Neighborhood Watch. He has brought our community closer together and I know will carry that passion to city council.

When issues come up before the public works, Eric looks at it from the point of view of a family in Blaine, he is not a “rubber stamp for more taxes” or supportive of a growing government bureaucracy without any increased service to the citizens.

Eric has a great understanding of the ongoing issues with the city budget and has expressed to me many times that he would not sit by passively while the city continues to use reserves until we are out of money.

For the last 10 years, the city council has been sitting by doing nothing with the airport property and has been too afraid to tackle the budget crisis our city is facing! Eric is not afraid to ask the hard questions and make the hard decisions to help secure the future safety and quality of life in Blaine!

I cannot think of anyone I would rather have as a city council member than Eric Davidson. Please do the future of Blaine a favor and vote Eric Davidson for city council!

Michael Williams

The Editor:

There is no substitute for experience!

In the past few weeks numerous letters to the editor have eloquently outlined Charlie Hawkins’ strong history, background and commitment to Blaine.

Not wanting to be repetitive, let me just say that I have lived in Blaine since 1992 and having been closely involved in our city’s politics over a number of years, I can personally attest to the value of having an experienced city council.

Based on his prior experience at many levels of government within our city and proven record of commitment I invite you to join me in voting for Charlie Hawkins.

Nancy Hobberlin

The Editor:

With all the news around the American flag lately (the NFL, protests, wars), and the respect or disrespect of the flag conversations, I thought it might be helpful and informative to provide everyonewith the rules and etiquette for our flag. The following comes from the VFW (vfw.org/Flag), but you can find this info at several sources online.

I am summarizing here so if you want the full version, visit the VFW website.

Displaying the Flag: U.S. Flag flies above all others; Never use the flag for decoration; Display only from sunrise to sunset; the flag may be displayed 24 hours per day if properly illuminated.

Special Rules: Do not let the flag touch the ground; do not fly upside down; do not carry or hold the flag flat/horizontal (like they do at the beginning of every NFL and many college games); do not use the flag as clothing; do not store the flag where it can get dirty; do not use it as a cover; do not tie it back; always let it fall free; do not mark the flag in any way; no writing or drawing on the flag

My favorite is: when you have to dispose of the flag, you should burn it. I also see lots of flags flying at night, in the rain and without illumination. And when your flag is damaged, it should be burned and replaced.

So all of you out there who are very patriotic and cherish our flag, please think about how you treat and respect our flag and how you want to deny NFL players the right to peacefully protest based on our 1st Amendment (which the Supreme Court has upheld) saying they are disrespecting our flag.

Henry Wernecke
Birch Bay

The Editor:

Since I moved here almost 20 years ago, Blaine has become a much nicer place to live. It has more and better restaurants and businesses and the construction of sidewalks, trees, planters and other amenities have made Blaine a great place to walk. Business owners seem to have committed to at least trying to make something work and city council has done a decent job of encouraging them. However, one of the hardest jobs of an elected official may be knowing when to say no to the people.

Blaine is slowly running out of money. What we need now is someone on the council who has a better grasp of the realities of city finance and understands that we can’t keep eating into our reserves to fund every little project that is proposed. We need to focus on the bigger picture of maintaining what we have and keeping our financial house in order. Please vote Eric Davidson for fiscal responsibility on the city council in November.

Calvin Armerding

The Editor:

As Port of Bellingham commissioner, Dan Robbins has done outstanding service for Whatcom County these past four years. Not only does he work hard for his constituents in district 1, he has made it a goal to become aware of what is going on all across our county.

Dan is familiar with most of the businesses: the fishermen, educators, CEOs, farmers, marine trades, restaurants and more. He’s very fair when making decisions for individuals as well as for corporations.

The Port has been active in planning a huge project on the Bellingham waterfront as well as a much needed repair service at Blaine Harbor. These are two important projects that affect many lives in Whatcom County and impact many jobs directly and indirectly.

Sometimes making decisions can be challenging – I know because I was a port commissioner for 12 years and worked on similar issues. Dan and I worked together my last two years. That’s why you can be sure I speak from experience that Dan makes well-thought-out decisions. He deserves your vote.

Jim Jorgensen

The Editor:

I endorse Barry Wenger as Port commissioner. Barry has the credentials and experience to balance the need for jobs with the critical need to support a healthy and sustainable environment. His efforts on behalf of our waterfront has culminated in projects like Taylor Street Dock, an icon of the city.

In this project and others, he has worked with the many stakeholders forging solutions that benefit the people of the city and he has done so with transparency and honesty. His opponent in this race and previous races has accepted campaign funds from the oil industry. As one who expects the public official to put public benefit ahead of special interests, this concerns me. Of the candidates, Barry has the background, skills, character and integrity to better develop and direct port projects for a more sustainable and vibrant Bellingham.

Michael Johnston

The Editor:

In the 17 years that I’ve known Barry Wenger, I’ve watched him work tirelessly to protect and improve the health, safety and vitality of our precious marine environments. As shoreline planner for the state department of ecology, he was the lead environmental planner on all 13 Bellingham Bay sites, and is well acquainted with the history, players and current status of waterfront clean-up plans. And when SSA Marine shifted their export commodity from grains and potash to coal, it was Barry who fought to make sure the Whatcom County planning department would require them to submit a new permit application with a full environmental impact statement. Thanks to Barry, local residents got to have a say in the Gateway Pacific coal terminal review process. We are now in the midst of some other pivotal projects, including Bellingham’s waterfront redevelopment. I trust Barry’s knowledge of port issues and policies, and I know his collaborative leadership style will serve us well as we navigate the years ahead. Please join me in electing Barry Wenger to port commissioner, district 2.

Lauren Fritzen

The Editor:

Whatcom County is fortunate to have Barry Wenger running for port commissioner in the upcoming election. Barry has knowledge, experience and vision in waterfront development and is well qualified to be a positive force in the development of our ports and waterfront facilities for the greater good of the citizens of Whatcom County. Barry’s vision is for a port for the people that include developing high tech and light industry for sustainable living wage jobs in our community.

Barry has experience working with diverse groups of people developing and upgrading waterfront facilities, such as the Taylor Street Dock in Bellingham, the harbor and waterfront areas of Port Townsend and Friday Harbor. Barry has experience with cleanup of marine environments to promote healthy ecosystems and fish runs that will support our commercial and recreational fishing industries and preserve the natural resources we have here in the Pacific Northwest. Barry Wenger has the skills needed to help develop our waterfront in a way that will enhance our economy and environment. Please join me in voting for Barry Wenger for port commissioner.

Martha Hammer

The Editor:

If you do not know whom to vote for port commissioners, I have a suggestion. I have been following the Port of Bellingham for years. Fifteen years ago the Port got the real estate bug. The Port wanted to sell their land for luxury condos and pocket the money. The Port never even considered returning these profits to the public, which put up all the money in the first place. The Port forgot who the owners of the Port were. For 15 years now we have fought back, and the Port is finally paying attention to the owners’ needs (that is us). Let’s keep this going.

We have a historic opportunity in this election to elect a port commission which is younger than ever, and all commissioners are actually working people rather than retirees. Additionally, it is politically balanced, which should take the party control issue off the table.

I am voting for Ken Bell and Michael Shepard. Please consider joining me.

Doug Karlberg

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