Election View: Joy Gilfilen supports people-driven economy

Joy Gilfilen is a candidate for Whatcom County executive.
Joy Gilfilen is a candidate for Whatcom County executive. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

What is executive leadership in the emerging world of visionary community business? How does this integrate with the latest technologies? How do we handle the speed of the changes ahead, local economic distress, billionaire pressure from outside interests, social and civic challenges?

Collective Vision: As different from planning, I believe in inspiring cross-sector collaboration so that we know how to strengthen community vitality together. My goal is to help us all build a big, strong, local 21st century sustainable economy that provides real jobs that recirculate money locally. I learned the power of localized, powerful vision when I spearheaded the Fairhaven 1990 project that transformed Fairhaven. For 40 years in the business world, I have been troubleshooting difficult issues, building human-to-technology systems and solving real-world problems.

Save the Tax Budget: We must stop hemorrhaging taxpayer dollars into the failed jail industry. It is expensive. A key option is to do jail reform, to reduce the flow of inmates by using restorative economic solutions, mental health and prevention solutions. See the report I co-authored called “Stop Punishing Taxpayers, Start Rebuilding Community” which is at VotingforJoy.com. Right now two-thirds of our local taxes already go to law and justice; and they want an additional sales tax? That is simply unsustainable. I will vote no. Let’s put people into jobs, not jails.

Systems Reboot: When two-thirds of the budget is consumed with law and justice – this is upside-down business management. Other departments and services suffer. Only one-third is left for funding health services, parks and recreation, planning and development services, administration, the council, executive, assessor, auditor, treasurer and the hearing examiner. It is time to invest money where we get a positive return. Let’s maintain our roads and emergency services. It is critical for us to look at redundancy to clear up red tape issues, excessive regulations. As a business consultant working in private, public and non-profit sectors, I learned to work with cash flows long term. I learned to save money, make policies that work, improve effectiveness.

Resource Management: I’ve come to deeply appreciate and know that our natural resources are fundamental to the food supply chain — which is critical to all life. We cannot implement extraction and coal types of industries. Instead, we absolutely must protect our land, water and air for our children’s children. I will bring together farmers, fisheries, tribes, conservationists and environmentalists to find sustainable solutions that support the growth and health of our local economy.

Now is the time for fiscal responsibility. We don’t have time to lose. We must cross political divides. It is time to help our small towns stand up to state and federal pressures so that we can rebuild our cities.

Background: I grew up in Colville, Washington, and was active in 4-H, varsity sports and worked full-time in news. My college years were supplemented by being a personal secretary at the legislature, doing freelance business writing, then working in the police world. My first truly professional independent job was as a real estate agent/broker, and I sold farm, land, commercial and managed a marina.

My passion is fueled by having raised two sons now building their lives and their future in this community. I have coached this generation, and learned about the challenges they face adapting to a high-speed world. They need business opportunities, jobs and mentorship.

My executive experience is based on my work as an independent entrepreneur for over 30 years. As a top-level producer, I worked locally and nationally with companies building teams of people to do independent businesses that were on the leading edge of economic renewal, sustainability, health and wellness.

In summary, we the people of Whatcom County are at a tipping point for restoring freedom to the taxpayers. I am uniquely suited to help implement a 21st century revitalizing economic model that is regenerative and constructive rather than degenerative and destructive. As your county executive, my goal is to redirect the flow of our tax dollars into local restorative programs and local business projects. Our economy needs to be driven by the people, not by outside big business interests.

My contact information is: VotingforJoy.com, 360-685-0151 or email me at: Votingforjoy@gmail.com.


This is one of a series of commentaries from candidates in the Aug. 4 primary election. Joy Gilfilen is the challenger in the non-partisan election for a 4-year term as Whatcom County executive.