1. Why did you decide to run for this position?
I love the Ferndale community. This has been my home for nearly 50 years. I first ran for Ferndale City Council four years ago because I truly believe that government is a force for good in peoples’ daily lives. In my four years on City Council, I have learned a lot about our city government, our community, the businesses and organizations that serve us, and our relationships with other communities and governments. Responding to the requests of many individuals whose opinions I respect, I am running for Mayor of Ferndale.
I will build strong working relationships with community leaders, councilmembers, City staff, and regional leaders. I will work hard to engage in healthy dialog and build trust between government and our community. Ferndale deserves a choice in leadership that has deep roots in our community, who is engaged, who makes thoughtful and informed decisions, and who works collaboratively toward a shared vision for our city.
2. What are three major management issues facing your city or town?
Traffic: Ferndale citizens are concerned about the impacts of increasing traffic through Ferndale. We have to ensure that our roads are safe and modern, while also ensuring our downtown is walkable with the appropriate placing of sidewalks, traffic lights, and crosswalks. The Thornton Overpass project will help divert traffic from downtown, allowing quicker and safer commutes.
Downtown Revitalization: Downtown Ferndale has struggled for years, seeing very little investment. Programs such as the Catalyst Incentives, designed to off-set the increased costs of development downtown, have the potential to transform our city center into a vibrant and welcoming place, with restaurants, shops, and events that encourage families and residents to spend their time and dollars in Ferndale.
Growth: Growth in Ferndale brings both challenges and opportunities. Ensuring our growing population has access to clean water, safe roads, and affordable housing are vital to sustaining our community.
3. Of the three, which one is the most urgent?
Ferndale is a great place to live and raise a family. Ferndale’s tremendous growth brings both challenges and opportunities. Our city is in a good position to accommodate future growth: We are investing $17 million in the Thornton Road overpass which will help alleviate some of our traffic frustrations; We are investing about $25 million in the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility that should meet our needs for another 20 years and likely more; and, We are working to obtain water rights for our city’s new deep well which taps a previously unused water source which is expected to serve our needs for a generation. Equally as important is establishing utilities rates, connection fees, and impact fees that share the cost burden fairly. Finally, the City of Ferndale must continue to develop zoning and housing standards that encourage density, multifamily housing, and unique housing options as a way of achieving affordable housing options for all of our residents’ needs.
4. What methods will you use to work successfully with the council?
The Mayor and City Council are elected to have difficult conversations and make difficult and consequential decisions that impact Ferndale residents every day. The Mayor and Council owe it to those we represent to make decisions with transparency. I believe the best decisions for our City are made when council is involved in the process from the beginning. Even more, when dealing with divisive and significant issues, it is important that we have honest and vigorous discussion where disagreements are a valued part of the decision making process. When we respect and consider the diversity of opinions, identities, and backgrounds in our community, we make decisions that enable everybody to thrive.
5. What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?
Ferndale has a significant role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment. Because Ferndale is bisected by the Nooksack River, one of our city’s primary responsibilities is enforcing Department of Ecology (DOE) stormwater regulations to insure that contaminates do not enter our streams and rivers. Enforcing the newest DOE stormwater regulations has meant educating contractors, developers, and the public about the rules, and why they are important in maintaining healthy waterways and habitat. Additionally, the City can be the example for environmental stewardship by including environmentally sound practices in city projects such as: pervious surfaces to road projects and rain gardens to control and filter stormwater runoff; include LEED certified building techniques for any new city construction and incentivize LEED design strategies in private construction projects, and continue to require and maintain trees and greenspace in new residential and commercial developments.
6. What are the issues surrounding your city/town’s infrastructure?
Ferndale’s tremendous growth also calls attention to Ferndale’s aging infrastructure. There are a number of residential streets that are in a sad state of disrepair. Roads that were once rural, and built without sidewalks, now handle significant amounts of both car and foot traffic. Even more, many of Ferndale’s primary roads are not able to handle the increase in traffic. As a community we often struggle to find the resources to pay for these much needed road improvements. At the same time, growth has also required the City find additional sources of drinking water and expand our capacity to treat and deliver that water to Ferndale residents. Additionally, Ferndale is in the process of funding and designing a new wastewater treatment plant because our current plant has reached its capacity and the end of its useful life. Just as important is establishing utilities rates, connection fees, and impact fees that share the costs of infrastructure improvements and expansion fairly.
7. How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?
I would not support the City of Ferndale becoming a “Sanctuary City.” At the same time, as mayor, I would not dedicate any city resources (the police) to the search and detainment of undocumented immigrants. I believe that the Ferndale Police are here to serve and protect all residents, regardless of their immigration status.
8. How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?
For many years, the City of Ferndale and its residents have responded to homelessness through a variety of faith-based and civic organizations. Ferndale’s Other Bank, Community Meal, and the Ferndale Community Resource Center are examples. While the City has assisted with these activities, more can be done. Under the leadership of Councilperson Kate Hansen (no relation), the City of Ferndale has organized the North Whatcom County Poverty Task Force, a temporary organization dedicated to examining the impacts of homelessness, food insecurity, income inequality, and housing affordability in the Ferndale community and beyond, then providing recommendations for the City for addressing these issues. The City must continue to dedicate resources to help provide assistance to the most vulnerable individuals in our community by expanding funding for organizations like the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative and implementing the Poverty Task Force’s recommendations.