Candidates bring ideas for a better Ferndale to council race

THE BELLINGHAM HERALDOctober 22, 2013 

2013 elections

MCT

FERNDALE - Two political newcomers, Carol Bersch and Eric Kelton, aim to fill the City Council seat being vacated by Lloyd Zimmerman. Both have ideas to make the city better, particularly downtown.

A majority of current council members are talking about how to attract big-box stores and the tax revenue they would bring.

For Bersch, who owns Carol's Cake Designs on Main Street, growth in Ferndale should look more like Fairhaven in Bellingham, with its art and specialty shops.

"We've got the banks and the bars covered" on Main Street, she said in an interview earlier this month.

Nor does Bersch want to see a bail bond agent set up shop on Main Street. That type of business is expected to appear if a new county jail proposed for LaBounty Drive is built.

She also opposes the sale of recreational marijuana in the city - a legal option beginning next year, after the passage of state Initiative 502.

"I will not be putting marijuana in my custom cakes, cookies or brownies either," Bersch wrote in an answer to a Bellingham Herald questionnaire.

After talking to downtown business owners, Kelton said a solution must be found to the traffic problem. Traffic lights heading into town could be synchronized, and the downtown needs more parking, he said.

Kelton grew up in Ferndale and graduated from Ferndale High in 2000. He said he knows firsthand that the city needs more recreational opportunities for children older than 10 or 11. He supports the BMX bike park being built on city land near the ConocoPhillips Sports Complex.

An active member of the Bellingham Men's Slow Pitch Association, Kelton has advocated for 15 years to bring more softball tournaments to the sports complex. The visitors they bring would boost the city's economy, he said.

Bersch, who moved to Ferndale in 2008, was active with the Republican Party in her home state of Alabama. She opened the first women's center on the University of Alabama campus in 1992, she said.

She wants to continue working with victims of domestic violence and said Ferndale should find a way, even with a tight budget, to fund social services. The city has, in recent years, supported services for domestic violence victims as well as Ferndale Food Bank and the Ferndale senior center.

"I absolutely think it's (the council's) responsibility to fund those nonprofits," she said. "They're all hurting, especially in this economy."

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Read his Politics Blog at bellinghamherald.com/politics-blog or follow him on Twitter at @bhamheraldpolitics.

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