I am seeking re-election because Whatcom County is my home and I love it here. My business is here, I am raising my children here, and I care deeply about this place.
My vision is a county that we are proud to hand to our children and grandchildren -- with a legacy of safe streets, clean water, good schools and diverse career opportunities.
I am an engineer by training and I own a small family business that renovates historic buildings. I have served on the board of DVSAS, the Opportunity Council, Northwest Economic Development Council and many others. I am blessed with a brilliant wife and two wonderful children.
I am proud of my record of responsible environmental stewardship and economic development. I have been endorsed by a broad coalition including the Whatcom Democrats, Whatcom County Association of Realtors, Sierra Club and the Northwest Labor Council.
In the past four years, I have vigorously defended the Women, Infants and Children nutrition program. I have supported downtown businesses, alternative energy, the Food Bank, Sustainable Connections and the Whatcom Humane Society. I had the privilege to vote for the historic Lake Whatcom forest preserve reconveyance.
The next County Council will make decisions that will affect this community for generations. With a $100 million new jail, water rights and land use conflicts, and a coal port, we need proven, responsible decision-makers. We have to work together and get it right.
Our first opportunity is intertwined with our new county jail. As our economy languishes and federal dollars for social programs dwindle, we have had an increase in unemployment, homelessness pressures, addiction, veterans with PTSD, and untreated mental illness. Many of these folks find their way into the criminal justice system and the jail. This is not a cost-effective, sustainable or humane strategy.
We need multiple diversionary and preventative programs within our criminal justice system. Primary examples are alternative sentencing, home detention, drug court, in-patient mental health facilities, affordable housing for folks with special needs and mental health court. With a comprehensive approach, we can build enough jail cells and build capacity in targeted alternatives.
We absolutely need a place to lock up violent criminals and I am comfortable with the current proposed scale of the facility. As we begin to design our physical plant, let's make sure we build a suite of programs that keep people out of jail.
We must protect our local job base. That includes our small, locally owned businesses and the vitally important industrial neighbors around Cherry Point. A diverse local business network will allow Whatcom County residents to withstand the unpredictable influence of the global markets and the migration of jobs overseas. We must eliminate regulatory uncertainty from our planning process and achieve clarity on our water supplies throughout the county. Our existing natural resource base, technology, medicine, energy, heavy industry, and commercial sectors can provide economic opportunity for everyone.
Improving the land-use and planning process will be a priority during my second term in office. We need innovative, flexible regulations that allow infill and redevelopment to occur without ruining the character of our rural and urban neighborhoods. We can accommodate growth, protect property rights and still preserve the beauty and uniqueness of Whatcom County.
I have been endorsed by most of the mainstream political groups, even ones that are on the opposite sides of the same issue. People know that I will study an issue, listen to all opinions, and make a responsible, respectful decision.
My mission is simple - "be responsible:" responsible for the environment and our natural resources; responsible with our limited finances; responsible to businesses, to seniors, to our children and to their future.
When re-elected, I will continue to bring my dedication as an environmentalist, my business experience and my skills as an engineer to county government. I will continue to leverage my strong working relationships throughout the county and among my colleagues. I will continue to listen, and learn, and advocate for responsible government. Together, we can keep Whatcom County a glorious place to live, work and raise our children. Thank you for your support, and I look forward to seeing you on the campaign trail!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken Mann is the incumbent Whatcom County Council member for District 2, position A. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.