Dan Hammill to take vacant Bellingham City Council seat

After receiving the sole nomination Wednesday evening , Dec. 17, Dan Hammill will fill the City Council’s Ward 3 seat left vacant when Cathy Lehman resigned earlier in the week.

Lehman announced in August she would cut short her term to take an environmental outreach job with the Washington Environmental Council and Washington Conservation Voters. She officially stepped down at the end of the last regular meeting of the year, Monday, Dec. 15.

After considering five applicants, four of whom gave short speeches to council Wednesday night, the remaining six council members went into executive session for about 20 minutes before returning to chambers for a vote.

When the meeting reconvened, member Gene Knutson promptly nominated Hammill and, after no one else was nominated, council unanimously voted for him to serve out the rest of Lehman’s term, which is up for reelection in 2015.

“I’m very grateful,” Hammill said shortly after the meeting was adjourned. “The other candidates were very well-qualified. I’m happy to be appointed to this position and to be able to serve Ward 3.”

The other candidates up for consideration included Scot Barg, Iris Maute-Gibson, Michelle Magee and Andrew Reding.

Hammill has lived in Bellingham for 25 years. He served on the Community Development Advisory Board for the last four years, was the program director of the Volunteer Center of Whatcom County for nine years, and co-founded Bellingham/Whatcom Project Homeless Connect in 2009.

The new council member said he thinks growth management is one of the biggest issues facing the city, and he will seek creative ways to address infill without damaging the character of historic neighborhoods.

“I think that infill has to be done fairly. ... It has to be proportional” Hammill said in an interview. “In the recent Comprehensive Plan survey, Bellingham citizens spoke loud and clearly when it came to wanting to have infill. I think we need to have conversations about where that will happen and where that will be distributed.”

Hammill said he will seek public election to the position in 2015 to maintain continuity in the makeup of the council as the city looks to update its comprehensive plan in 2016.