I recently linked one of my older posts about Kathy Kershner, accusing her of supporting sexual assault in our community by voting against funding for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services in our community. She responded on the Herald politics blog with this:
Riley, Thank you for bringing this up again and giving me the opportunity once again to address your concerns. You are correct, I did not vote for funding the Domestic Violence Commission in 2010. That does not mean that I approve of domestic violence or that I do not support the women in our community as you have implied many times. Quite the contrary. I have been an advocate for women and people with disabilities for the past 20 years. I provided direct support to women in abusive living situations under a contract with the state’s Welfare to Work program. I am a strong supporter of direct services to people who need the help.
So why did I vote no? To put it simply, our General Fund was in trouble. We were spending more than we were bringing in and I could not vote to continue to spend money that we did not have. The Domestic Violence Commission, as good as they are, does not provide direct service. In tough financial times, I would rather spend the limited resources that we do have on direct service for people needing help. As it turns out, the Administration and the Council successfully managed the County’s General Fund throughout 2011 and reversed the downward trend, and so I was happy to vote to fund the Domestic Violence Commission in 2011.
You and I have had a few conversations about this and I have offered to sit down over a cup of coffee and discuss this with you. I hope that you will take me up on the offer if you still have concerns.
First of all, big thank you to Kathy Kershner for responding, I always appreciate it when we get insight into what our elected officials are thinking. Now for the substance, she offers up that in 2010, when she voted to slash the funding, that DVSAS did not provide a direct service and since money was tight, she didn’t want to fund them. This is shocking to me, considering that they do DIRECTLY provide services for our community (as seen here). Ken Mann was kind enough to point out that the money, while going through DVSAS, was intended for the DV Commission which does not, in his eyes, provide “direct services”. You can judge for yourself by looking at the good work they do here. When you have been the victim or involved in a situation, there is a place you can go that help and specializes in these issues.
What is also shocking is that same night that Kershner voted against DVSAS, she also voted FOR providing an even larger sum to help advertise the Ski to Sea parade. Correct me if I’m wrong, but does the Ski to Sea advertising (not the function itself) provide a service for our community? Is there anyone here who HASN’T heard of the Ski to Sea parade?
Look, I’m glad that she had a change of heart and voted to fund DVSAS later in 2011, and I hope that she will continue that trend to provide measured and compassionate leadership as the next chair of the council, but that doesn’t make her 2011 abandonment of Whatcom women any less disappointing.
I hope to get more insight soon. I’ll be attending the first council meeting of the year, and hopefully, interviewing Kathy Kershner soon over a cup of coffee.