I'm a product of the American dream: I started with nothing but an idea and built it into a successful business and a fortunate life here in Whatcom County, the place we have called our home for almost 20 years.
I know what it's like to struggle with no money. I had to quit school early. My father's health was failing, and I had to help out. I'm an entrepreneur. I was named as an entrepreneur of the year by Ernst & Young in 2007 and Whatcom County business person of the year in 2004. I know what it's like to bet everything on a new business, work 100 hours a week - and ultimately to become a contributing member of the community. I was born in Australia. And I later became an American citizen - because I chose to make my life, grow my company and raise my family here. I'm a pilot, a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary and a strong supporter of our military families whose struggles I became familiar with while visiting U.S. bases abroad.
I started my business, Ryzex, in 1989 in our apartment with nothing more than an idea and a small amount of money. That idea grew to provide employment for 360 people, 140 of them right here in Whatcom County.
Even during those busy days at Ryzex, I enjoyed serving our community, for example I have served on the Whatcom County Ethics Commission, Brigid Collins Child Abuse & Family Support Center, Whatcom Community Foundation, Bellingham Public Development Authority, Bellingham City Club and St. Paul's Academy.
I am running for Whatcom County Council because we have a unique opportunity to take the next step to make this great community even greater.
I'll work for jobs without the loss of our great quality of life. Our future depends on us making wise decisions to protect and utilize our natural amenities. Our natural beauty can help us create job growth in tourism and recreation. Can you think of another place in the world where you can ski, mountain bike, hike, horse ride, kayak, sail, scuba, swim, fish, crab, hunt, pick mushrooms, camp and climb great mountains in a single county?
I've navigated the cultural, legal and administrative challenges of starting businesses in five countries. This experience gives me some fresh ideas to improve our local government, while discouraging unnecessary bureaucracy which limits our job growth.
It breaks my heart to see young people graduating with little hope of landing a local job in their chosen career. I'll work for a Whatcom County that your kids and grandkids wouldn't ever think of leaving.
At Ryzex we learned how to recycle 100 percent of our waste generated from our Bellingham facility and we made a profit in the process. I want to apply that environmental ethic and entrepreneurial spirit to help our county reduce waste and save money.
The proposed coal port decision will shape Whatcom County for years to come. No other candidate or current council member has the proven track record that I do caring for our environment while creating hundreds of jobs at the same time. I think my extensive business and environmental experience will be a great help in the coal train debate. As a County Council member, we will take an oath to hear all the information, read all the reports and then make an intelligent decision. My first priority is that we do not see our right to make this critical local decision lost to a judge in a federal courtroom. I have built my reputation on being fair, and will use the highest ethical standards when voting about this contentious project.
I'm proud to have broad support from over 300 Democrat, Republican and independent endorsers as well as Bellingham-Whatcom County fire fighters, Washington Conservation Voters, local mayors from Bellingham, Blaine and Ferndale; and legislators like Harriet Spanel (former Democratic senator) and (former Republican senator/sheriff) Dale Brandland.
We are a good community now. But we are on the brink of becoming a great community.
If you'd honor me with your support and vote, I promise to work hard to make Whatcom County the greatest place to live on earth. Thank you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Rud Browne is the challenger for Whatcom County Council at-large district. Vote-by-mail ballots will be mailed Oct. 19 and the general election is Nov. 5.
The spelling of Rud Browne's last name was corrected Oct. 18, 2013.