Election 2009: Candidate Answers

Published on Wed, Oct 14, 2009
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Whatcom County Council

Candidates for the Whatcom County Council At Large position were asked the following question: What values and principles are most important in guiding your decision-making and how will they come into play as a county council member making decisions about the county’s future? (Candidate responses for the other county council races appeared last week.)
Here is what they had to say...

Whatcom County Council At Large

Laurie Caskey-Shreiber

I have served on Whatcom County Council for the past eight years, during that time I’ve participated in a variety of decisions that affect the citizens. When contemplating an issue, I try to listen to all sides, and seek out additional information from experts or community stakeholders to get their perspective.

I tend to focus on what would most benefit the county as a whole and I like to think about how our decisions will affect the lives of our children and future citizens of our county. I strongly believe that protecting our natural resources so that future generations can enjoy and benefit from them is a core and guiding principle of mine. This means I will always side on protecting water quality, conserving farmland, and doing what we can to reverse the trend of environmental degradation that has been occurring throughout the Northwest Straits. 

I also believe in strengthening communities, supporting them in their efforts to provide a quality living environment for their citizens. For Blaine, I supported funding to get the Blaine Boardwalk built, and for Birch Bay I would like to see the berm project around the bay become a reality, and I would also like to see a children’s playground area established there. 

I believe in steering growth to our urban areas and keeping our farmlands and open spaces rural. Not only does this approach fight sprawl, but it also makes fiscal sense for jurisdictions to provide services to a more compact area.

Bill Knutzen

Growing up on a dairy farm and working in agriculture most of my life, I learned what an honest day’s work means.

I also was taught that when you shake someone’s hand and look them in the eye, you had better do what you tell them you’re going to do because a man is only as good as his word.

Now, having three kids of my own, I realize how important it is to be a positive role model and am always conscious of how my decisions will affect them and their futures.

I was raised to be hardworking, honest and respectful of others. I can guarantee that no one will work harder to be a good council representative than me.

I will work tirelessly to make sure our farmers can continue to farm. It does no good to protect farmland if we don’t create policies that help farmers succeed.

I know what it means to build a business from the ground up, watching every penny and budgeting carefully. I know how hard you work for a dollar, and I won’t spend your tax dollars frivolously.

I’m sure life was simpler when my great grandparents came to Whatcom County more than 100 years ago.
If I’m elected, I pledge to do my best so that your kids, my kids and our grandkids and great grandkids will have the same wonderful quality of life and many opportunities I’ve experienced in this amazing community.

And I’m a man of my word.

Port of Bellingham

Candidates for Port of Bellingham commission were asked the following question:
What do you envision the Port of Bellingham can and should do to foster economic development in Blaine and Birch Bay?

Here is what they had to say...

Commissioner District 1

John Blethen

The new Northwest Parks and Recreation District working with the Port of Bellingham and Blaine could begin to implement the Birch Bay master plan by providing grant money for berm enhancement and trail development which has been sought by the Birch Bay community and which is long overdue. The Port could also help improve the boat launch in Birch Bay State Park, providing better water access for locals and tourists.

The Wharf Master Plan designed by former Blaine employee Terry Galvin working with CDM provides a great template for uniting Blaine’s waterfront with the downtown. The plan needs to be implemented. By building Plover Park, dedicating it to Blaine, and partnering in beach restoration, trail linkages and increased public access while allowing carefully sited development that does not degrade views from downtown, the city of Blaine can begin to enjoy the prosperity that it deserves.

Continuing to implement the Blaine Comprehensive Harbor plan with a mix of commercial, industrial and residential and recreational uses  while working with private developers will help lift Blaine from its long time economic doldrums.

Scott Walker

The cooperation of the Port of Bellingham and the city of Blaine over the past 10 years has been unparalleled in the Port’s history. The Port has invested millions of dollars to rebuild the marina, and to create the Blaine Boating Center and the related promenade and landscaping. The city has upgraded the waterfront road system and infrastructure.  Together we have developed a vision and master plan that will guide waterfront development for the next 25 years. Through the Port’s small city economic development outreach, we have financially participated in the pedestrian overpass design and Wharf District planning, as well as other projects.

The stage has been set for a growth phase in Blaine centering on pedestrian accessibility to the waterfront, and private investment of hospitality, office, retail business, seafood processing, and marine repair. The Port can help Blaine reach its potential. First, the east side of the marina should be reconfigured to a better use, including recruitment of private capital for lodging or residential. Second, the land at the west end needs development to bring back the vitality of a mixed use commercial development.

The Birch Bay community should also take advantage of the Port’s outreach program.  One idea is to use the present adventure tourism connections to facilitate ecological and historical tours, creating tourist season jobs and providing a revenue stream for the new Heron Center. We could contribute to the effort to remove groins from the beach, creating a natural sandy beach similar to the Port’s Marine Park in Fairhaven.

Commissioner District 2

Douglas Smith

Blaine waterfront:

 •Collaborate with the city of Blaine and a private investor to develop the area between the BNRR and Marina, converting the zoning to mixed use commercial-residential, enhanced park area, an over-rail pedestrian bridge connection to downtown and an improved boat launch.

 •Locate new commercial fishing storage building and work area closer to moorage and gear handling amenities.

 •Improve commercial docks and shipyard structures to enhance efficiency, longevity and productivity.

 •Continue to maintain access to the public fishing pier and determine cost feasibility of continued vehicle parking or pedestrian only with a central backshore parking area.

Birch Bay:

• Continue to promote and approve tax exempt Industrial Revenue Bonds for the area’s industrial sector and the family wage jobs they provide.

• The Port environmental and economic development staff should be more available to professionally assist the area’s community representatives resolve issues restraining economic development. 

Mike McAuley

The Port’s best efforts to help Whatcom County families will be toward job creation. A local, strong and diverse business base that needs workers will bring in those dollars that can be earned and spent here that multiplier effect will further ensure a strong and stable Whatcom County economy where work requiring all skill levels will be in available.

A continued but strengthened, local relationship with the Blaine community on development efforts at the Blaine Harbor will ensure that Blaine citizens can claim their waterfront as their own both socially and economically; while at the same time still reaching out to visitors and eco-tourists who will further diversify the local economy.

Also, seeking and remaining open to partnership opportunities with other local or regional governments, agencies
or groups will ensure that all Port activities remain focused on the development of local, sustainable solutions for all of Whatcom County.

One example of that may be to look at the northwest corner of the county, including Point Roberts, as a cohesive, waterfront dependent area then define those activities that occur there or could occur there, strengthen ties and develop economic drivers that benefit Birch Bay, Blaine and Point Roberts commercially and environmentally.