Lummi Indian Business Council Endorsement Questionnaire
Note – The LIBC chose NOT to endorse either candidate in the Ferndale Mayor’s race.
1. What are your top two or three priorities if elected?
As Mayor, one of my top priorities would be the revitalization of downtown Ferndale. I want our downtown to be vibrant; with shops, businesses, and restaurants that give individuals a reason to come downtown and spend their money in Ferndale. I believe our next Mayor must be a careful stewardship of the significant infrastructure projects our City is about to undertake. The Thornton Street overpass, waste water treatment plant, and a new deep-aquifer well are critical for accommodating the continued growth in our city. Finally, Ferndale must begin making plans for a new City Hall, Municipal Court and City Council Chambers.
2. Please tell us the most important issues facing you if elected and how you contrast yourself with your opponent(s):
I believe that the most important issue facing either candidate for Mayor of Ferndale during the next term will be finding a site and the financing for a new City Hall, Municipal Court, and Council Chamber. Our City government has out grown the current city hall and Ferndale’s Municipal Court and Council Chamber is in a repurposed building (a former fire station) that has reached the end of its usable life. Unlike our current Mayor, I would like to see the public intimately involved in the process by holding community meetings to decide among different locations, site design, building architecture, and finishes. I believe that by involving the public, voters (tax payers) will be more invested in this community project and more willing to shoulder the financial burden of this important City asset.
3. What does Tribal Sovereignty and Self Determination mean to you and how would you support this if elected?
To me, Tribal Sovereignty and Self Determination refers to the rights of individual tribes to exercise self-government and to make decisions on issues that impact their people. Tribes are sovereign nations within a sovereign nation. As an elected leader in the City of Ferndale, I will respect the self-governance rights of any Tribe in making decisions that are in the best interest of their people.
4. Lummi Nation is traditionally a fishing community and it has been increasingly difficult to harvest seafood in the Salish Sea. Water issues have a significant impact on the local fishing economy. We have advocated for a global water initiative to help establish certainty of responsible water use for all current water users in the Noosack watershed. The initiative includes creating standards for: (1) water quality, (2) water quantity, (3) water source, (4) fish habitat and (5) accountability measures. This would require a broad range of support and participation. If elected, how will you support Lummi’s proposed global water initiative?
Water has always been an issue in our community and Ferndale is certainly facing its own challenges with all the standards mentioned. I believe the Nooksack Watershed is our community’s life-blood and I would certainly support initiatives for the responsible use of our region’s water resources. Additionally, I believe that all stake-holders in the Nooksack watershed have a vested interested in protecting this resource and that, with the Lummi Nation taking the lead on this topic, our region could reach historic agreements on how to best manage this resource for all stake-holders.
5. Transportation and improving our local infrastructure is a priority of Lummi Nation. How do you plan to support, introduce, advocate, or vote for legislation to improve the roads surrounding the properties related to Lummi development?
The City of Ferndale and the Lummi Nation have a shared interest in developing the Slater Road corridor especially around the I-5 Interchange. I think that it is important that together the Lummi Nation, City of Ferndale, and the State get the road improvements to this area right! I support the creation of an ad-hoc group of stake-holders to decide on how to best invest the $20 million in State money on the 5 roundabouts on Slater Road. Even more, I support the Lummi Nation’s appeals to both the Washington State Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration for funds to raise Slater Road East of the river bridge to avoid flooding.
6. Lummi Nation owns property outside the reservation boundaries. We have a shared interest to improve the local economy by developing these properties and to continue to be one of the top 3 employers in the region. Will you introduce, support, advocate, or vote for legislation to advance Lummi Nation’s economic diversity? PLEASE BE SPECIFIC:
I am a big proponent of economic diversity for our community. As our region continues to grow, I believe that it is important that local government leaders strive to attract a spectrum of industries for our region providing opportunities for careers for our many diverse talents and interests. Our region could become a leader in industries involved in renewable energy, education, environmental research, transportation, technology, and tourism, just to name a few. I will always advocate for legislation that supports the Lummi Nation’s economic diversity goals.
7. The Lummi Nation has jurisdiction over our property located off reservation. There is a practice of transferring property owned by Lummi from fee status to trust status. As an elected official you may be asked to support or oppose the transfer of land into trust status. How will you support Lummi’s petition to transfer off reservation property into trust status?
The practice of transferring property owned by Lummi from fee status to trust status has a number of complex considerations that change depending on the geography, location, and jurisdiction of that property. Speaking generally, I support the Lummi Nation’s efforts to make investments in their economic, social, and cultural future through the acquisition of land and transfer of that land into trust. At the same time, underlying and neighboring jurisdictions should be made hole when transfers involve property with existing infrastructure and services, and efforts must be made to find reasonable compromises for the impacts of the development of trust properties to neighboring and underlying jurisdictions.
8. If you are in office, please tell us what you have done to advance Lummi Nation’s economic diversity and support self-determination?
As a Ferndale City Councilperson, my interactions with the Lummi Nation have been mostly related to the Slater Road area and the Lummi Nation’s Salish Village project. I always endeavor to balance what I believe is fair and right for the citizens of Ferndale, while also understanding that the Lummi Nation is doing the same. Even more, I believe that the Lummi Nation and the City of Ferndale, working together, can create meaningful economic center in this area that will be to our shared advantage.
9. Currently of the 8.7% sales tax that is collected, it is divided between state and local governments with 0% going to Lummi Nation. Do you support this current tax allocation, why or why not?
The allocation of sale tax revenue is an evolving issue at this moment which is still being settled in court. Generally, I believe that it is any tribe’s right to collect sales tax within its reservation boundaries, but on trust land, that becomes more complicated because of underlying jurisdictions and corresponding responsibilities. Because of the significant impacts to all jurisdictions, it is important that this issue be resolved in Federal Courts.
10. Would you support tax sharing between Lummi Nation and the State of Washington so that we are better able to fund our government services?
I believe that there is a way find a reasonable sales tax-sharing agreement that is fair and meets the needs of all jurisdictions involved.
11. Please explain your understanding of tribal gaming and the economic impact it brings to the local region.
As a Hospitality and Tourism management instructor at Whatcom Community College, I have clear understanding of the economic impacts and opportunities provided by tribal gaming. Tribal gaming has provided numerous tribes all over the United States with significant cash flows that have given tribes the opportunity to provide for their communities in many significant ways while also making investments in the long-term economic, social, and cultural health of their communities.
12. Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) is a historical cultural site that is sacred to Lummi Nation, yet decades ago Whatcom County zoned this area for heavy industry. While we successfully stopped a proposal to site North America’s largest coal terminal at Xwe’chi’eXen due to impacts to our Treaty Rights to fish and harvest in the Salish Sea, plans continue to come forward to expand shipping at the site, or to expand the industrial area there. Do you support these plans, why or why not?
I grew up in Ferndale and have followed all the arguments both for continued industry and development at Cherry Point and against heavy industry at Cherry Point. Cherry Point Industry has been a significant economic driver for Whatcom county, and especially Ferndale, since the 1970s. In Ferndale, this topic sparks angry conversations and hard feelings between those who support their families working somewhere at Cherry Point and those who understand the need to protect this fragile and culturally significant region. As a political leader in Ferndale, it is difficult for me to support proposals to end industry at Cherry Point, at the same time, I do not support any expanded use of this site as an export terminal for any fossil fuels.
13. What is your position on tribal fishing and hunting rights on and off reservation? Do you support tribal hatcheries?
Again, as a lifelong resident of Ferndale, I understand the economic, social, cultural importance of hunting and especially fishing for local tribes. Judge Boldt’s 1974 decision that affirmed local tribes their right to fish in usual and accustomed places continues to be the law. Off reservations, other’s private property rights make this more complicated, but I believe that access to tide lands should be public. I support and encourage tribal hatcheries as stewards of indigenous fish species and protectors of our fragile fishery.