Politics Blog

Ferndale City Council Position 4 Q&A

City Council member Paul Ingram will face two challengers for his position 4 seat in this August’s primary election.

The top two vote-getters in the Aug. 4 primary will move on to the Nov. 3 general election.

Ingram in in his second term on Ferndale City Council. Teresa Taylor, a small business owner, and Matthew Durkee, a U.S. Army veteran, hope to unseat Ingram.

Ferndale City Council is a nonpartisan office with four-year terms. The position is part time.

The Bellingham Herald asked the candidates a series of questions about their qualifications and key issues in the city. Responses below are verbatim as submitted.

Durkee did not respond to the questionnaire.

Why are you running for Ferndale City Council?

Ingram: I am seeking re-election that I may try to complete my “bucket list” for Ferndale, a new city wide Parks district that will greatly improve our City Park system, and the building of the Thornton Road over-crossing to connect our most densely populated residential area to the Portal Way Freeway interchange.

Taylor: I’m running because community service is important to me and I feel like it’s a good time to step up and get involved. There has been much growth in Ferndale and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. By communicating with the grassroots, I could help identify the real issues. I have experience professionally working for government, the non-profit arena and I am a small business owner. Representing the people by listening and engaging from the grassroots to build public policy is important to me.

What have you accomplished in Ferndale?

Ingram: "I" have not accomplished anything in Ferndale, it takes 4 votes to move anything off the agenda, anyone that claims "they" have been responsible for anything is just a self serving silly person.

I am very proud of the things that we as a council have accomplished. The improvements to our City that have been completed by this Council have made our city a better place to live and raise a family. We have improved our streets, built a new Police Station, a new Library, new Community Center and a new Visitor Center. Our water is now rated as some of the best in the State.

Taylor: I have volunteered countless hours at Hovander Park’s Community Garden, the Ferndale Riverwalk garden, the clean-up of the former Ferndale Boys & Girls Club, soccer coach for the Ferndale Red Lions and served on the PTSO in the Ferndale Schools as my kids were growing up. Volunteering provides valuable community services so more money can be spent on local improvements, it brings people together, and strengthens our community. Community Service is important to me and that is why I am running for Ferndale City Council.

What do you think of the plan to ask voters to approve a 50 cents per $1,000 assessed value property tax for a Metropolitan Park District?

Ingram: The levy rate you quote of .50 per 1K for the parks is not accurate. The levy rate will be set by the district directors if and when the voters approve the district. The council has set the 50 cents figure as maximum, it may well be less.

Taylor: I support asking the voters to support the city through a property tax levy that can help enhance the City’s park system. Ferndale is rich in parks, parkways, boulevards and recreational facilities and Parks and recreation have a positive impact on the local economy and have important non-economic benefits too. Recreation opportunities and parks are essential for strengthening and maintaining a healthy community. The Ferndale Parks, Recreation & Trail Advisory Board proposed an initial six-year plan on how the money will be spent should the levy pass. I find it feasible for projects like rebuilding Pioneer Parks main stage, an interpretive board walk along Schell Marsh from the new library to Phillips 66 Sports Complex and many more upcoming park and recreation projects.

A plan to levy a penny gas tax in Ferndale to pay for roads and infrastructure failed at the polls last year. How should Ferndale pay for road improvements?

Ingram: Road repairs are being funded from several sources including the Transportation Improvement District tax approved by the voters.

Taylor: First, Ferndale needs to prioritize areas for road improvements and determine how much each road project costs. Then Ferndale needs to go after federal dollars for road improvements via Federal Transit Administration (FTA), and U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). These programs provide stewardship over the construction, maintenance and preservation of the Nation’s roadways. They provide technical assistance to improve safety, mobility and encourage innovation.

What does the city of Ferndale need to tackle in the next four years?

Ingram: We need to find a way to bring more retail to Ferndale to help keep our tax monies out of Bellingham.

Taylor: We must prepare for economic growth for our growing community. We must build an economy that is attractive to businesses that stimulate job growth, one that makes our community more livable and pays fair wages to lift our citizens out of poverty. It is important that we ensure federal support of our efforts to strengthen our infrastructure – roads, sidewalks, water supply, sewer, and so forth. We should support the jail and advocate for treatment for those who are mentally ill and chemically dependent to divert people from jail to spend less money. We should support the city through a property tax levy that can help enhance the City’s park system and preserve and protect our natural resources. Parks and recreation have a positive impact on the local economy and have important non-economic benefits too. Recreation opportunities and parks are essential for strengthening and maintaining a healthy community. The creation of a Metropolitan Park District for the management, control, improvement, maintenance, and acquisition of parks, parkways, boulevards and recreational facilities would bring in new revenue to enhance the city’s parks system.

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