Election view: Knutzen focuses on water needed for farms, jobs

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 14, 2013 

Four years ago, we were struggling with a county government that did not understand the struggles of farmers and everyday families trying to make a living. I was just a regular guy trying to help farmers continue farming, so I threw my hat in the ring to bring the voice of regular people and the farming community to the County Council. We have come a long way since then, but I need your help to continue making progress.

I was honored to be elected as County Council member and serve in that role since 2009. In four years as your council member, I made farming and job creation council policy priorities, formed a forestry advisory committee to balance jobs and the environment, brought all concerned parties to the table to address urban growth area property disputes, and fought to build a reasonable budget.

I worked hard to keep partisanship and ideology out of the business of choosing our priorities on the council and one of our chief accomplishments is our ability to work together. The past four years have been a success.

This year I'm running for re-election and I'm still the same regular guy trying to work hard and raise a family, but new challenges are facing our community. With the recent decision of the state Growth Management Hearings Board, new demands and regulations are coming down the pipe on our water supply.

Essentially, the board decided that Whatcom does not have enough water to farm, work and live at our current capacity, but I don't believe that is the real issue. The real issue is not that we have a water shortage; it's that we haven't come together in a collaborative fashion to quantify how much water each community in Whatcom needs.

This decision could have a huge impact on our farms and rural communities which goes back to my reason for running for office four years ago: our government's decisions are out of touch with working families in Whatcom. There are solutions to this problem and the solutions need to come from Whatcom, not outside interests.

Water will be the front and center issue for the next term and I am already working to provide solutions and certainty for farmers and rural residents. Keeping Whatcom green and clean means keeping farmers farming and environmental protections clear. That's something we can all agree on and the core of my vision for the next four years in Whatcom County.

Our community is a three-legged stool made of the environment, farming and the economy. We can't afford to let one of these suffer and ruin the balance that makes Whatcom so valuable to us. Without the beautiful green space, Whatcom is just another suburb. Without farming, Whatcom has no connection to the land. Without a strong economy, Whatcom has no opportunity for our children. These are real dangers that we face.

My family has chosen this community for our home for the past four generations. I want to make sure my kids have the same opportunity that I had as well as my father, grandfather and great-grandfather before me.

So when it comes time to vote this year, I would hope that you can see how carefully we need to maintain the balance of this community and how quickly we can lose it if outside interests or extreme views take hold. If there's one thing I've learned as Whatcom County Council member, it's that you can't expect to get your own way. You need to collect the evidence, review the options and find a way to agree and work together despite differences. At the end of the day, it's about finding the best possible solution we can reach together.

We can meet these challenges on common ground by putting Whatcom first. Please help me continue this work.

Right now, I am not just a County Council member running for re-election. I'm your neighbor asking for help to keep Whatcom County open for farming and open for business. Nothing matters to me more than this community. I humbly ask for your vote this November.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bill Knutzen is the incumbent Whatcom County Council member for the at-large district. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.

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