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Report from Whatcom Wins: Outcome of Council Races are Crucial to Climate

October-November 2013


Report from Whatcom Wins: Outcome of Council Races are Crucial to Climate

by Alex Ramel

Alex Ramel is a member of the board of the Whatcom County Chapter of the Washington Conservation Voters. He has volunteered on elections in Whatcom County since 2005.

In May, the National Journal – a conservative journal for Washington DC insiders — published an article by Coral Davenport titled, “The Obscure County Election That Could Change the Planet: A little-watched race in Washington State will determine how America uses its coal — and the future of the global climate.” — May 23, 2013.

That obscure election is here in Whatcom County and they are right, the outcome of our county council races could impact the global climate.

Over the past few months this heightened interest in our elections has continued with national newspapers and documentary filmmakers dropping in to talk to people involved in the elections. But the truth is: you decide the outcome. How? By heading over to the Whatcom Wins office at the corner of North State and Chestnut in Bellingham, the first floor of the Bellingham Herald Building, and signing up to phone, picking up a walk list and talking to your neighbors or writing a check to pay for mailings.

Rud Browne, Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann and Carl Weimer are all endorsed by Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, the Teamsters and Whatcom Democrats. These are the candidates we can trust to make the right decisions. And these organizations are working harder than ever before to make sure we get them elected.

I am excited by the strength of this local collaboration. Together we’ve knocked on thousands of doors, registered new voters, and had many, many conversations with voters on the phone. But we’re all waiting for the other shoe to drop. It’s widely expected that coal interests will dump a ton of dirty money into the campaigns of the Tea Party Republicans they’re supporting. We expect an onslaught of dishonest and negative TV ads, negative mailings and radio ads fueled by coal money. You need to know that we’re not going to have as much money as they have.

These races matter. In addition to the future of the global climate, we’ve got local issues of deep importance to the people who call Whatcom County home: clean drinking water, slaughterhouses and jobs.

The Tea Party Republican slate all voted to increase development in the Lake Whatcom watershed by 25 percent. This is an impaired water body and we need a county council who will do the hard work to clean up our drinking water source, not pollute it. Families throughout Whatcom County deserve safe, clean drinking water.

The Tea Party Republican slate all voted for an ordinance that allows some of the best farmland in the nation to be paved over with slaughterhouses. The rules are so extreme that blood and other waste may be sprayed on fields and neighbors will not even have a say on whether or not a slaughterhouse is built next door. So much for property values and property rights; neighbors will immediately lose the value they’ve invested in their homes and their land.

So, with all this at stake, the question I’m asked most often is this: how are the elections going? They are going well for us. But we need to keep up the pressure through the election. We won’t know until it’s too late if coal interests will dump a half million into re-electing the Tea Party Republican extremists. And we have no idea how they’ll use that money. What we do know is that we can win on the ground, with you talking to voters, to friends and neighbors, at their doors.

Many of you have already volunteered, thank you! Each of us has the power to determine the outcome of this election. Big money cannot buy a well-organized community. That fact gives me a lot of hope.

If you are reading the Whatcom Watch the odds are pretty good you share my values and my concerns. But as Paul Wellstone said, “If we don’t fight hard enough for the things we stand for, at some point we have to recognize that we don’t really stand for them.” So what do you say? Will you join the other volunteers? Or if you’ve already volunteers, will you take one more shift before the elections?

Hundreds of local citizens believe enough to fight for their values. Give two hours. These elections are won and lost by a few hundred votes. You might make the difference. Call Karlee at 220-7828 to get on the schedule to doorbell or make phone calls. But do it soon. The election is November 5.

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