FERNDALE - In nearly four years on the City Council, Brent Goodrich could be fairly called the pro-business councilman. His challenger in the Nov. 5 election, Stacy Miller, also wants to see economic growth in the city, but with a deep background in social services, she also would put her energy into that arena if elected.
The council in recent years has had to make hard decisions to balance the city budget. Last year and again this year, council members have discussed eliminating funding for four nonprofits they traditionally support: a food bank, senior center, a teen court run by Northwest Youth Services, and services for victims of domestic violence.
Goodrich said those are important programs, but said they shouldn't be funded by sacrificing a city employee. Staff is stretched thin as it is, he said.
"The people of Ferndale rely on those (social) programs, but what do we do? Do we fire a police officer or let someone else go?" Goodrich said.
Miller works with the Bellingham/Whatcom County Commission Against Domestic Violence on a program that teaches dating violence prevention in Ferndale schools. She said social services supported by the city should be a mainstay of its budget. This year, the city is spending $13,050 on the four programs.
"It's not a ton of money. It's not an either-or," Miller said.
She also wants the city to find the money for a second police detective, saying Ferndale's one crime investigator is overworked.
Goodrich said the annual budget dilemma would be resolved if the city could break out of its economic rut. Tax revenues are not keeping up with increasing expenses, he said.
"It goes back to the economic growth of the city. ... If it really came, then we wouldn't be talking about those issues today," Goodrich said.
The council has taken steps to attract large retail stores to Slater Road and east of downtown, on Main Street. Goodrich said the development should occur on Slater. He supported a proposal from Lummi Nation to share tax revenue from future retail development on Slater. The council rejected it in May.
Miller's vision for growth in Ferndale doesn't include big-box stores. Her focus would be on attracting manufacturing businesses and their living-wage jobs.
Doing that requires "better communication about the benefits of what Ferndale has," including inexpensive water and electricity, she said.
MORE CANDIDATE INFORMATION
To see responses to various issues from these and other candidates on the Nov. 5 ballot, go to our online voter guide.
This is one in a series of articles on races in the November general election. Other articles are at BellinghamHerald.com/elections.