My name is Satpal Sidhu and I am your council member from the 2nd District. I have lived in Lynden for 30 years. My wife and I raised three boys, who attended Meridian Schools. I am an engineer, a Fulbright scholar, dean at Bellingham Technical College and president of a solar company with international business experience. Currently, I serve on the boards of Whatcom Community College Foundation, NW Agricultural Business Center and Peacehealth Hospital Advisory Council. In addition to serving over a dozen non-profit boards, I have held community positions requiring leadership beyond just the County Council.
Kathy, my opponent, and I may have many similarities, but it’s the differences that should matter to you most. Unlike Kathy, I have signed both the front and the back of a private sector check most of my life. I helped over 1,000 people in our community secure high-wage local jobs. As a dean at BTC I created new programs which have employment rate of 95 percent and a starting wage of $25. I immigrated with no money, but three degrees, upon which I built my career and raised my family. I own and operate a local business, Spice Hut. I developed a unique ability to parse a problem, peel the layers and analyze the issues from multiple perspectives. This helps me make better decisions. I am running a campaign of ideas and creativity.
We need a new jail. The current jail is inhumane, inadequate and unsafe. It is also a distressing workplace for all the deputies and jail employees. I voted to put this $100 million-plus jail project on the ballot to rouse an open and honest debate about the size, cost and how to pay for it. I voted for the task force to reduce incarceration rates and ensure people with mental illness receive the help they need. I have the experience with numerous non-profit boards and I support the organizations helping the most vulnerable and poor folks in our county.
I am a true friend of our farmers and the community. I am passionate about promoting value-added processing of our local produce, developing export markets, creating more jobs, and putting more money back into our local community. We ship our berries 1,000 miles away and get them back as jams and jellies, for which we pay dearly. Why can’t we make those in Whatcom County? I have the experience and ability to make this happen. I support protecting 100,000 acres of farmland and showcase the fact that Whatcom County is the highest berry growing county in the USA.
I trust the voters to make the right choice on the option to adopt five districts for our county. Therefore, I voted to put this option on the ballot. This allows voters to have open debate and vote what they prefer. I believe same rules should apply to both Charter Review Commission and County Council amendments to the charter.
Whatcom County is a beautiful area that we are blessed to call home. It is our collective responsibility to the future generations to preserve and protect the natural environment, availability of clean water, healthy lakes and secure, clean watershed. I voted for a $50 million program to preserve and improve the watershed and reduce phosphorus.
What good is the best place to live is if an average family cannot afford a home in Whatcom County? I support a new housing advisory committee to help create policies and opportunities for affordable housing and family wage jobs. Our next big challenge is updating the Comprehensive Plan in 2016, which will guide the future growth in the county.
Now more than ever, our county needs skilled, educated people to serve in government. I am an engineer, and Fulbright scholar with three degrees. I have a proven ability to take on large challenges and deliver what I promise. You and I share most of the same values. As your councilman, I am asking your support and your vote so I may continue serving you for the next four years. Check out my website, VotesatpalSidhu.com
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Aug. 4 primary election. Satpal Sidhu is the appointed incumbent in the non-partisan election for a 4-year term for Whatcom Couny 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.