Honor, courage and commitment are three core values the United States Navy instills in the heart of every recruit. They are the key elements of leadership I developed as a naval officer, values that defined my four years of service on the Whatcom County Council and values that continue to define who I am today.
It was the highest privilege of my adult life to serve as your County Council member from 2010 to 2014. In recognition of my leadership experience, my colleagues selected me as their council chair.
From these positions of responsibility, I learned what real leadership entails.
Real leadership requires listening to other points of view. It means giving everyone a voice in their local government. Real leadership requires placing the interests of the people ahead of partisan political interests. It means treating people with the respect they deserve and seeking their input regarding decisions that could affect their families, neighborhoods and businesses.
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Today, real leadership is needed now more than ever on the Whatcom County Council.
As our county becomes increasingly diverse, the council has never been more partisan or one-dimensional. Because it is full of the same voices representing the same agenda, there is a lack of meaningful dialogue and debate. Instead of implementing good public policy solutions that address our issues, the council spends its time waging political battles against citizen commissioners and small town mayors.
After several conversations with my family, we decided I should seek a seat on the County Council based on our heartfelt conviction that the citizens of Whatcom County deserve much better than this.
Over the last many months, it has been a joy to meet with my neighbors in Bellingham, Ferndale, Lynden, Everson and surrounding towns. Through our conversations, I learned a lot about what you want and care about. Voters in Whatcom County want a council that is a good steward of their tax dollars. They want to replace the county’s overcrowded jail with a safer and more economical facility. Voters want more affordable housing options for themselves and their families. Finally, they want the creation of family-wage jobs to be a top priority because they want to see their children grow up and stay in Whatcom County, not move away because there are no jobs.
Put simply, we all want to feel safe, secure and at home in Whatcom County. I understand because I am a wife who works hard to provide for my family. I am a mom who cares about the safety of my 11-year-old son. And I’m a woman who feels there is no one on the current County Council who represents me.
If elected your next Whatcom County Council member, I promise to represent you.
Every day, my campaign is growing stronger and gaining momentum. I am endorsed by the city mayors of Ferndale, Sumas, Everson, Nooksack, and Lynden. In addition, I am endorsed by several past and presently elected state representatives, county council members and charter review commissioners. They have faith in my ability and know I have the experience to lead and represent the interests of Whatcom County. They also recognize the need to bring balance to the council.
I’m endorsed by unions, like the Plumbers and Pipefitters of UA Local 26, because they know I will make family-wage job creation a priority. Whatcom County Association of Realtors endorsed me because they know I believe that providing affordable housing options is absolutely essential.
The Washington State Farm Bureau endorsed me because they know that I will be the only real voice for farmers on the Whatcom County Council. And I have the endorsement of the Whatcom Deputy Sheriff’s Guild because they know I believe ensuring the safety of our local community should be the very first obligation of every elected leader.
In this next election, the stakes could not be higher. I ask for your vote, and in return, I promise to listen to you and govern in a way that reflects the shared values of this community we call home. It’s about time you had a voice on the Whatcom County Council. For more information, please visit votekershner.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Nov. 3 election. Kathy Kershner is the challenger in the non-partisan election for a 4-year term for Whatcom County Council District 2, Position B. District 2 includes northeast Bellingham, Nugents Corner, Lynden, Everson, Nooksack, Sumas and other northeast county communities.
Upcoming Whatcom County election forums
The Bellingham/Whatcom League of Women Voters and the City of Bellingham are hosting voter information forums on local candidates and measures. The Bellingham Herald is media sponsor of the events and encourages voters to attend.
Bellingham schools, port, jail: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 29 at Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St. Candidates for Bellingham School Board Director Position No. 2, candidates for Port of Bellingham Commissioner District 3 and pro and con speakers for the Whatcom County Jail Measure will speak. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Whatcom County: 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 6 at Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St. Candidates for County Executive and candidates for County Council District No.1, Position B and District 2, Position B will speak. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Charter propositions: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Oct. 10, Bellingham City Council Chambers, 210 Lottie St. Pro and con speakers for the proposed charter amendments will speak. Doors open at 9:30 a.m.