Voters to decide next Whatcom Conservation District supervisor

By Stefanie Donahue

Next month, Whatcom Conservation District will hold an election for a seat serving a three-year term on its board of supervisors.

The five-member board of supervisors oversees the district, which is chartered to develop and implement programs that protect and conserve soil, water, farmland, rangeland, woodland, wildlife, energy and other natural resources in Whatcom County.

Currently, the board is made-up of Heather Christianson, Theresa Sygitowicz, Joe Heller, Larry Davis and Larry Helm. Helm’s seat is up for election; Alan Chapman, David Kroontje and Helm are vying for it.

Election day is Tuesday, March 13, but don’t expect a ballot in the mail unless you put in a special request for an absentee ballot earlier this month. The election will be conducted at the polls, which will open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the district’s office, located at 6975 Hannegan Road in Lynden. Only a simple majority is required for a candidate to win the seat, said district representative Dawn Bekenyi.

Hear from the candidates:

Alan Chapman: “My objective for seeking this position is to assist the district in their support of a viable agricultural community that contributes to the economic and environmental health of the county.”

Elected experience: None.

Professional experience: biologist at International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission; senior scientist fisheries at United States Agency for International Development and United Nations Development Programme; chief marine resources at Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands; director at Palau Maritime Authority; fisheries officer at South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency; fisheries manager at Nooksack Indian Tribe and fisheries management biologist at Lummi Natural Resources.

David Kroontje: “Maintaining a vigorous forestry and agricultural economy provides access to fiber, healthy food, and recreation – great blessings to us all. I believe that my lifetime of local perspective, and my varied experience, education, and interests would be useful to the WCD in helping landowners responsibly maintain the economic viability of their farms and forest.”

Elected experience: None.

Professional experience: Manufacturing Engineer at Zodiac Aerospace; airline pilot at Empire Airlines; freelance flight instructor; business founder and master electrician at Crown Five Corporation; retail salesman/buyer and department head at Bellingham Sash & Door; real estate broker at Cloverleaf Realty; farm laborer, crew supervisor and machinery operator at Boerhave Farms.

Larry Helm: “We need to focus on our goals. If a farm is not polluting [or] producing clean water downstream, then government should minimize their impact to that farm operation. Without a healthy profit margin our farms will slowly
disappear.”

Elected experience: Conservation district supervisor chair; Washington Association of Conservation Districts NW Chair; Precinct Committee Officer #164; Whatcom County State Committee man GOP; State Executive Committee GOP; Overseer Rome Grange; and Chair WRIA Water Association Caucus.

Professional experience: Peace Officer Standards Training; Fire Ecology at the University of California; Program Management Certificate; and Cross Connection Control Certificate.

Learn more about the election by visiting, whatcomcd.org/board-elections.

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