Election 2021: Addressing homelessness is priority for city, county candidates — and there’s agreement on how to do so

October 14, 2021
Lauren Gallup

Candidates for Bellingham city and Whatcom County councils share concern that there are not enough options for people living unhoused in the area, and incumbents and challengers both say they want to do more to address the housing crisis.

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Election 2021: Parties aim to influence Port elections; candidates embrace nonpartisanship

October 13, 2021
Ralph Schwartz

Port of Bellingham commission seats are nonpartisan, but that doesn’t mean the political parties aren’t trying to sway the outcomes of this year’s elections with endorsements and campaign funding support.

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‘Where’s the ferry?’ islanders ask as crew shortages stymie scheduled sailings

October 12, 2021
Heather Spaulding

In San Juan County, where ferry service is an integral part of the state highway system, recent cancellations of ferry sailings related to crew shortages have resulted in some residents unable to get home, to work or to doctor appointments, and have delayed arrival of groceries and other vital supplies.

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Election 2021: Candidates vie to drive the engine of Whatcom County’s economic development

October 8, 2021
Ralph Schwartz

Two of three commissioner positions for the Port of Bellingham — the county’s economic engine — are up for election on the Nov. 2 ballot. Along with speaking to the issues, candidates have found they need to explain the job’s impact whenever they knock on voters’ doors.

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Election 2021: Grassroots effort puts four People First Bellingham initiatives before voters

October 7, 2021
Ella Banken

Bellingham voters will determine in the November election whether they want to live in a city with expanded protection for renters’ rights, where police can’t use invasive technology, where the right to unionize is protected and where hourly workers’ compensation is protected when they vote on four initiatives promoted by People First Bellingham.

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Election 2021: City, county candidates vary on police reform needs, approaches

October 7, 2021
Stella Harvey

Urgency around police reform and public safety has not brought people to the streets this year, but voters in Bellingham and Whatcom County have the opportunity to weigh in on what approach their local officials should take when it comes to local policing and public safety.

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Community Voices / Voting is what constructs a democracy: be a voter

September 30, 2021
Robin Bailey

Voting is what constructs a democracy, and elections have consequences, with decisions made at the local level having direct effects around planning, housing, police, fire, parks, transportation and public works. People vote to make changes they think are necessary by putting people in office or by voting for or against issues.

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Vaccine mandate becoming latest COVID ‘new normal’ for work or play

September 24, 2021
Matt Benoit

As the Delta variant of COVID-19 ravages the unvaccinated population, killing some and filling hospitals, public, private, and government entities have renewed masking mandates, and more are enacting vaccination mandates and requiring proof of testing to stamp out the virus from places of both work and play.

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Police, mental health workers face challenge, confusion with new use-of-force law

August 20, 2021
Matt Benoit

House Bill 1310 established new rules about use of force by police when it took effect in Washington last month, and law enforcement and social service agencies continue to grapple with confusion related to challenges to the new law.

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Community Voices / San Juan County to vote on climate, environment, equity, justice amendments to county charter

August 12, 2021
Kevin Ranker

Priority for climate and environment; justice, equity and inclusion; and an emphasis on citizen engagement are driving proposals the San Juan County Charter Review Commission has advanced for the November ballot. The commission is continuing its work and plans to submit additional propositions for the 2022 ballot.

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Community Voices / New police laws will make our communities safer

August 3, 2021
Sen. Liz Lovelett, Rep. Debra Lekanoff and Rep. Alex Ramel

In response to “a clear call” for reforms in criminal justice and police accountability, Washington’s state legislature responded with several new laws. Now, 40th District legislators say they believe there has been some misinterpretation of the new laws, and hope that lawmakers and law enforcement agencies will continue to work to implement the new laws in good faith.

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Homelessness, fossil fuels, food deserts: primary candidates face the issues in Bellingham, Whatcom forums

July 30, 2021
Mike Sato

Candidates in the 2021 primary election for Bellingham city and Whatcom county council positions answered questions on topics from homelessness to fossil fuel in forums hosted by he League of Women Voters of Bellingham-Whatcom County.

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Years in the making, amendments ban new coal or oil industries, new shipping terminals at Cherry Point

July 29, 2021
Kimberly Cauvel

No new oil- or coal-based industries will be allowed at Cherry Point west of Ferndale under Whatcom County’s latest — and groundbreaking — Comprehensive Plan amendments, following a unanimous vote by the county council.

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People’s choice: renter protections, police tech, workers’ rights initiatives make November ballot

July 26, 2021
Ella Banken

After a major volunteer-led effort, four initiatives presented by People First Bellingham received enough verified signatures to be on November’s ballot, even as some city council members expressed concern potential legal challenges the initiatives may present.

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Whatcom council axes young adult social media COVID campaign despite vaccination success

July 15, 2021
Ella Banken

In January, Whatcom County began an awareness campaign to engage young adults with information about COVID-19 safety. On June 29, a tie vote by the county council nixed an extension of the campaign.

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photo: Amy Nelson © 2021

Clock starts on Nooksack basin water rights inventory; stakeholders yet to discuss solutions

July 9, 2021
Mike Sato

Weeks of sparse rainfall and a historic heat wave marked the end of June — and the start of a process to establish water rights among various users in Whatcom County’s Nooksack River basin.

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