Ferndale city clerk tapped as Whatcom planning commissioner

Ferndale’s city clerk, who formerly was a reporter for The Bellingham Herald, was appointed Tuesday, Oct. 28, to the Whatcom County Planning Commission.

Years spent at the Herald covering local governments helped Sam Taylor win over a majority of the County Council. With three candidates to choose from, all but one of the seven council members voted for Taylor.

“I’m going to vote for a person who on several occasions has seen the Planning Commission in operation and the council in operation,” council member Rud Browne said before the vote.

Experience sitting through numerous county meetings separated Taylor from the other candidates: lawyer and geologist Michael Bersch, and title officer Dean Prather.

The Planning Commission makes recommendations to the council on decisions about development and land uses in the county. The position comes with no pay.

Council member Carl Weimer said he was grateful that none of the candidates appeared to have a political ax to grind.

“The Planning Commission tends to be a very polarized group,” Weimer said. “It was really nice to get three applications where I didn’t know which of the polar ends any of you gentlemen were coming in on.”

Of the eight current members, six clearly lean conservative. The other two are liberal.

Taylor replaces Ferndale-area organic farmer Walter Haugen, who prefers the label “anarchist” to liberal. Haugen resigned after eight months on the commission, saying the group was “hypocritical” for not enforcing its attendance rules. He also said he was “badgered” by other commissioners.

“You need someone who is not going to be distracted by bile,” Haugen wrote in his Sept. 26 resignation letter.