Election View: Mutchler backs planned growth, trails and council transparency

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDSeptember 27, 2013 

I was elected in 2009 by five votes - one of the closest local elections in memory. That experience reinforced my conviction that single citizens matter and each city decision impacts not just 6.7 square miles of earth named "Ferndale" but 12,000 individuals that call Ferndale "home."

My priority has been to be accessible and communicate clearly city challenges and opportunities. I supported all efforts for greater government transparency and initiated new ones.

I put the city and its bright future first in my decisions even when disappointing friends or going against the grain. In disagreement I've not succumbed to being disagreeable. Opponents still gain my ear and respect.

I have served with integrity, honesty and thoughtfulness with a simple goal in mind: that my children will look back and say, "Dad, the city got it right and strengthened Ferndale's future when you made those tough decisions." I do my homework, balancing the immediate need with a long-term horizon.

Ferndale is on the right course after coming out of a tough recession: one of fiscal discipline and responsibility while still maintaining quality essential services. A resolution I initiated (12-09-04-A) results in greater scrutiny by council of our annual budget.

Additionally, we continue to move forward with needed improvements like upgraded roads, better infrastructure, a modern police station, and very soon - thanks to you - a new library and community events center.

We're a safe, healthy, smart-growth city that's "coming of age" in a first-rate way by planning early and wisely for anticipated growth, especially near I-5. We're learning from the mistakes of other cities by adopting proactive policies toward preferred growth. Economic development will come, but not at the sacrifice of our small-town quality of life. Worthy of mention is the 2012 adoption of a traffic plan around Main and I-5 that removes some of the barriers to healthy development but also adopts and pays for a traffic plan that will protect our city.

We have also initiated some changes at city hall that are finally sparking development activity and interest in the downtown core (between the bridge and new library around Main Street).

I will continue to pursue ways of reducing housing costs while protecting the city from undesirable impacts. One priority would be to allow greater density (more homes) in some of our residential zoning. Our current setback and minimum lot size requirements require developers to build homes on unnecessarily large lots, thus using up limited and expensive land. For example, if a developer believes there is a market and interest in, say, smaller 1,100- to 1,500-foot homes, he still may have to build on lots that could accommodate 3,000-foot homes. I would favor greater flexibility in new (not existing) Ferndale neighborhoods to try optional smaller lots. This win/win approach would mean cheaper infrastructure costs (roads, water/sewer), more efficient use of land, less sprawl, and lower home costs.

It may also be time to respond to broad community support for a public pool and look at long-term strategies that will unite the city, school district, YMCA, the northwest county, businesses and private citizens to make that vision happen in a financially responsible and affordable way. Let's have that conversation! Also, I favor efforts to reallocate park resources toward a better trail system to connect parks, schools, and neighborhoods throughout Ferndale, contributing to a healthier Ferndale.

I believe that because of our efforts the greatest days for Ferndale are straight ahead. I am asking you to allow me to continue in this direction with your vote and support.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jon R. Mutchler is the incumbent Ferndale City Council member for District 5. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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