Serving the citizens of Bellingham on the City Council has been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I'm proud of the work we've accomplished: advancing joint policy between jurisdictions for the protection of Lake Whatcom, addressing more clearly how growth is considered and thoughtfully planned in our existing urban areas, and improving how downtown is perceived and prioritized for regional economic development opportunities.
I've helped to set goals and determine rules for how the waterfront site is positioned to accept investment and environmental cleanup over the next few decades. I've made numerous decisions about how city resources are collected and spent, how future development patterns will play out, how the values of our citizens are reflected in city activities, and how we address issues such as roads, parks, libraries, fireworks and much, much more.
I have also met and grown close with remarkable individuals who work to make our city better every single day. And while I anticipated going in to this experience that it could be immensely educational, intellectually exciting and deeply gratifying - I come away knowing that yes, it has been all three.
So it is with complex and mixed emotions that I share I will be resigning my position on the Bellingham City Council at the end of this year to concentrate on a new opportunity with Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. I've accepted their joint position of voter education and qutreach director to help advance climate change policy regionally, educate and turn out voters for environmental priorities and candidates statewide, and hold elected officials accountable to their environmental values.
It is a tremendous and unprecedented opportunity to be a part of far-reaching environmental solutions, which simply put, I cannot say no to.
Nevertheless, this has been a very difficult decision. Many hours of sleep have eluded me because I have worked hard to serve the City of Bellingham, and I greatly respect the honor of the office of City Council. Since the beginning of my run for office, I've been humbled by the support I've felt from so many of you, and I take the trust you have placed in me very seriously. The responsibilities of my position are not something I take lightly, and I have not wanted to let you down.
But my life's work is, and always has been, one of public service and advancing practical solutions for our environmental challenges. And making real advances to address climate change may be the single most important work of our lifetimes.
Between now and the end of the year I will finish much of the work I've begun and transition my role as council president responsibly. Together with the mayor, we will craft and pass a budget, and wrap up policy priorities we've been working toward as a council for many months. I'll hand off management of our legislative department team to another president, and help ensure the transition is seamless.
There is so much to be hopeful for and grateful for in the city of Bellingham. Changes for the better are afoot in our city center, and economic development opportunities are improving with our core values of sustainability and social justice intact. Our citizenry remains passionately engaged, our neighborhoods function as hubs of true community, and our core leadership is visionary yet practical. We have all the tools necessary for an outstanding future. And I take this next step with the full knowledge that our mayor, remaining six council members and staff department leads are of the highest caliber and I can trust that you are in very good hands.
I have loved serving and representing the citizens of this city these last three years. I'm filled with gratitude, and truly hope to be given the opportunity to serve you again in another capacity someday.
From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cathy Lehman was director of the Whatcom County chapter of Futurewise when she was elected to the Bellingham City Council in November 2011. Council members elected her council president for 2014.