Opinion

New Bellingham City Council member Dan Hammill sees progressive future for city

I competed in my first Ski to Sea back in 1996 as our team’s mountain biker. Our canoe had flipped early on and now — in charge of covering the bone-jarring traverse along the Nooksack River — I found myself trying to catch up to the middle of the scrum, where dozens of racers careened toward Zuanich Park.

It was during that mad dash that the notion of interdependence really hit me: each one of our team members had a role and responsibility to get that wristband down the mountain and over the water. If one of us failed or wasn’t fast enough, we all suffered. When we were cohesive and strong, we all prospered with a better finish time. We were in it together, working towards a common goal.

Almost 20 years later, our community is racing towards expansion and prosperity. We are no longer an undiscovered gem of a city, and our growth means we cannot simply be the stewards of years past. Instead, we depend on our community to come together and lead our city into a progressive future. The decisions we make together will help us all thrive.

As your City Council representative, I work to ensure Bellingham is home to healthy families, strong environmental protections, access to open space and support for our local businesses and non-profit providers.

I envision a community that embraces its unique character as it continues to flourish. In this growth, we face choices that will reflect and define us. Wise judgment around land use, economic development, housing, transportation infrastructure development, neighborhood preservation and the waterfront will affect Bellingham for generations.

Blueprints for progress can be found in our comprehensive and consolidated plans, the Mayor’s Community Solutions Workgroups, the Community Health Improvement Plan and the city’s Strategic Legacies and Commitments. While these working plans provide a strong framework, we have an opportunity to write the ongoing narrative of what our city will look like through the very spade and shovel work of good local governance and representational leadership: robust dialogue, critical thinking and on-going collaborations with stakeholders.

Since the beginning of the year, I have met with every city of Bellingham department head and many senior managers to gain a better understanding of how departments and systems work together to serve the citizens of Bellingham. We face tremendous challenges in protecting Lake Whatcom, the drinking water supply for more than 100,000 Bellingham and Whatcom County residents. As the chair of the Lake Whatcom Reservoir and Natural Resources Committee, it’s important to me that we broadly engage residents living in the watershed with effective programs that reduce phosphorus in our drinking water.

As a 25-year Bellingham resident I’ve prioritized community advocacy on many levels, from volunteering as a literacy tutor to serving as president of the York Neighborhood Association. My wife, Kelly Bashaw, is president of the Bellingham School Board, and we are proud Kulshan CLT homeowners in the Sunnyland neighborhood. For nearly a decade, I served as program director at the Volunteer Center, working with our excellent non-profit community to address issues ranging from environmental restoration, education, health and vocational readiness. During that time, I co-founded Bellingham/Whatcom Project Homeless Connect, an event that has helped thousands of people access essential human services. As campaign manager for the Bellingham Home Fund, I helped develop a program that is now providing affordable housing for seniors, veterans, people with disabilities and families with low incomes.

In 2010, I was appointed by the mayor to serve on the city of Bellingham’s Community Development Advisory Board. As chair of that board, I worked with my leadership team and Mayor Linville to restore city funds to pre-recession levels, protecting vital services for people who need them the most.

This is the kind of teamwork that will lead our city into a bright future. In the last two months, I’ve talked with hundreds of community residents at neighborhood meetings and on their doorsteps. I’d like to hear your thoughts about our great city. I invite you to contact me with thoughts and ideas for our great city at dchammill@cob.org. Your voice is important because when we are all on the same team, we win.

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