Election View: Luke backs farm, industry jobs for Whatcom County

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 13, 2013 

The next four years presents both opportunity and challenge to Whatcom County that will shape our day-to-day lives over the next decade and beyond. At this critical, exciting juncture, it is important to elect a council member who will roll up their sleeves and actively work to make the right decisions for our community and families.

With over 35 years of small business experience, I have firsthand understanding of economic cycles and the challenges they present. Economic challenges do not overcome themselves and success does not happen by accident. I know how to "course correct" and move forward to achieve success during tough times. Purposeful planning and smart policies that put citizens first are required to move our local economy to prosperity.

I have worked hard to be successful in two different careers. Owning a business helps me understand what businesses need to succeed in Whatcom County. Helping customers grow their own business results in growth to my business. On a larger scale, we can work together to grow the economy in Whatcom County.

Often politicians tend to focus on what is happening in Olympia or "the other Washington." But I know local government shapes where we live, work and play. We all know, just like household expenses, government comes with a cost. I will spend your tax dollars wisely and respect the hard work that earned those dollars.

Whatcom County has four major institutions for higher learning. Because of this, we have nearly unparalleled access to a skilled, educated workforce. Capitalizing on the intellectual capitol already in Whatcom County, I will work on council to ensure jobs are not lost to other areas and that our children will have a job and career option in Whatcom County.

Whatcom County must work to address the needs of business already located here and attract new business. Simply put, we need to enhance and grow our jobs base. Too many companies have left Whatcom County, taking important jobs with them because they cannot expand locally.

Recently, a local group adopted a resolution to reject all future uses on land zoned for family wage jobs at Cherry Point. Existing industry in that specially designated area, including Phillips 66, BP, and Alcoa have proven to be tremendous job providers for our families, and continue to provide a stable tax base for infrastructure and social services. The local workforce cares about Whatcom County and has won awards for their dedicated stewardship of the environment surrounding this industrial zone. Retaining responsible businesses such as these supports many important economic foundations such as home ownership and college education.

Agriculture is a pillar of our county's history and economy. Unfortunately, our farmers are currently held to outdated policy and struggle to move ahead with value-added opportunities. I believe local government's role is to clear the way for opportunities, not put up obstacles.

The Whatcom County Comprehensive Plan is currently under review for an update. This is your county government's roadmap to balance our economic capability with our natural environment. This can only happen with a County Council willing to do the work. If you elect me to County Council, I will take a balanced approach, using consensus leadership, to make sure that we do not pass up the opportunity to make the best of tough decisions that lie ahead.

Many people label candidates in order to develop a character to be "for or against." Labels I feel best represent me are: wife, business partner, stepparent, grandmother, planning commissioner and friend to many.

I ask for your vote and your support. Everybody matters and I want to hear from you. The choices that county government faces can be tough, but so am I. Politicians in Olympia and Washington D.C. will not fix our local economy, only we can do that!

I have been endorsed by the following groups that believe in Michelle Luke for County Council: Mayors Jensen, Robinson, Bromley, Korthuis, Ackerman, Perry; Whatcom County Libertarians; Whatcom County Republicans; The Washington State Farm Bureau; Whatcom County Realtors Association; Whatcom County Fire District 7; Whatcom County Sheriff Guild.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Luke is the challenger for Whatcom County Council, District 3, position A. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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