Editor’s Note: I realize that because this article is about a specific candidate, I might be stepping on some people’s toes. I have tried to include as much documentation as possible to help my case. Please feel free to click through the links and examine the materials. And as always, you can email me directly with your concerns here.
Tuesday night, I made my way down to the Young Democrats meeting at the beautiful Chuckanut Brewery, where I found Dan Pike answering questions and campaigning. He discussed Red Light Cameras and had some intriguing ideas for the waterfront, but before long, he got around to “Coal Trains. ”
His boisterous public opposition to the proposed terminal at Cherry Point has been the centerpiece of his mayoral campaign. You’ll find reference on his campaign literature (“The first and only elected official and candidate to stand up for Bellingham and say ‘No’ to coal”), on his Facebook page (“Mayor Dan showed enormous integrity in standing up to protect Bellingham . . . and remains the only candidate who will continue to show that leadership!”) and in his speeches (see my write up from the Dems endorsement meeting). On some of his campaign buttons, the issue has even eclipsed his name. This is a hot button issue in our community, drawing large crowds to public meetings and aggressive, sometimes illegal, action.
Pike’s track record on the issue has been erratic, or as veteran reporter John Stark put it in his July 29th article, “Pike’s journey to his present position has not been direct.”
He put forth a resolution supporting the Cherry Point Terminal back in October 2010 saying “Whereas the Mayor of Bellingham, Dan Pike, joins with the council in its strong support of this project.” City Council president Gene Knutzen pulled the resolution before it could come to a vote. UPDATE: I just got a call from Dan Pike where he contests this point. It is unclear who proposed the original resolution, but the mayor says he asked for it to be pulled. Read the resolution and check the discussion here. When that failed, he held a couple of public hearings about it before coming out for the project with some serious conditions, and then finally coming out against the project by sending a rather confrontational letter to the Governor and without warning or consulting the County Executive and Council.
Regardless of how Pike got to the issue, what confuses me, is why this is even an issue in the Mayoral race. The Mayor of Bellingham has no jurisdiction. The city will not be approving permits (that’s the county council’s job), or conducting environmental impact analysis (State Agencies) or even dealing with traffic and land use concerns (State and Port of Bellingham). The city has zero authority over this issue, so why is Dan Pike making it a central issue of his campaign?
I’ve heard Kelli Linville talk about how she is opposed to the project and would prefer a different industry be installed in that space. So if both he and his opponent are in virtual agreement (Herald Article confirms this) and the post they seek has no authority over the issue, why all the chest thumping about it?
So at the Young Dems meeting I asked him, “Aside from the Bully Pulpit, what jurisdiction does the mayor’s office have on this issue.” His campaign manager, Isabel Vanderslice, tried to jump in but Dan Pike answered, “Well don’t discount the bully pulpit, it is important.”
So before the campaign dialogue strays into how the candidates opposed rabid dogs and major earthquakes, I’d like to set forth a few issues I would rather see our mayoral candidates talk about:
1) Revitalizing our Urban Core:
2) Infill and Rental Housing
3) Cordata, the Guide-Meridian, and Barkley Village
We should demand the best from our elected and future elected officials, even if that means pinning their feet down and demanding that they talk about the issues that they will be able to effect if we elect them. I urge all the voters reading this to ask your candidates about issues relevent to their office, and the candidates reading this to expand on what they can do about those issues.