Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 7, 2012

Kathy Kershner Responds to Voting Against Women


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.



  1. Once again a big Thank You to you, Riley. A very insightful post – I was surprised to hear that Kathy K. is going to be the Council chair! She is an intelligent woman, I think, basing this observation on her participation in the Lummi Island Ferry Committee BUT she is a strong Republican and will be an advocate for the Republican agenda, so we can expect a very partisan participation from her – which I’m sure you have already surmised.
    It should be an interesting year for politics in Whatcom Co. with the changes in the boundaries of the 1st and 2nd CDs, and a Republican Co. Executive!
    Cheers and Happy New Year!

  2. I shuddered when I heard Kathy was a contracted provider of services for Workfirst. It’s hard to imagine what support she could provide to a vulnerable population.

  3. Riley, the Domestic Violence Commission is not DVSAS. Check your facts and reevaluate your conclusion.

  4. Yes, but this was funding through DVSAS, to support the commission. The money was going to DVSAS, my conclusion holds.

  5. My sense is that Ms. Kershner did not have a good handle on what the commission did the first time around and was still encoumbered with some simplistic views of government and goverance at the time of that first vote.

    It is not a fair comparison to use the Sky to Sea funding as that is funded out of a different revenue source.

    A fairer comparison might be the willingness to expend resources fighting Growth Management compliance. Huge commitments of staff time and county legal time that dwarfs the spending on the Domestic Violence Commission. However, I think that again Ms. Kershner is still learning and has not yet appreciated the costs of pushing poor land use plans forward. Poor planning with no regard to how it will impact rate payers and tax payers is a concept that the self claimed conservatives in Whatcom County are having a very hard time with.

    I still hold out hope that there will be a day when conservatives recognize that growth planning with no thought to how services and facilities will be paid for will be recognized as fiscal madness.

  6. Well said Dan.

    As for Riley’s adherence to his original conclusion, I am not sure how he aligns that with the facts. I will attribute it to ideological blinders and try to explain it again for him:
    1. Riley, presumably, you meant to take issue with KK vote against DV Commission funding.

    2. KK defends her vote by pointing out that the DV Commission does not do direct service.

    3. You try to “catch” her by pointing out that they do provide direct service – BUT you link to DVSAS!

    4. The DV Commission does NOT do direct service (go to their “get help” link and you will see that they don’t even list themselves as a place to call.)

    5. The DV Commission is an umbrella bureaucracy that is supposed to facilitate cooperation among the countywide agencies that deal with DV.

    6. The money trail touches DVSAS but your claim that voting against funding for DV Commission is the same as voting against DVSAS is unfair.

    7. I bother to speak up about this because I am tired of having my political detractors lying about me. I don’t always vote the same as Ms. Kershner, but if we are ever going to grow up as a political community we need to avoid taking a shred of truth and mis-representing it as a mountainous offense. I don’t care if they do it on Fox News, it doesn’t make it right.

    8. By the way, I am a board member of DVSAS and care deeply about that issue.

    • Hey Ken,

      First of all, I don’t think it is a mountainous offense but I do find voting against Domestic Violence prevention offensive. I know that this is an issue you care about deeply, and I appreciate your involvement with DVSAS.

      In reviewing all the votes about this, it seems like I misspoke when I said the vote was in 2010. It was the 2011 January meeting that I attended and wrote about.

      Just to be clear, this is the vote we are talking about from Jan 11th, 2011. You can find it online here

      $35,000 (AB2011-043) (8:00:09 PM)
      Larson moved to approve the request.
      Kershner asked if this funding comes from the general fund.
      Dewey Desler, Deputy Administrator, stated it is.
      The motion carried by the following vote:
      Ayes: Larson, Crawford, Brenner, Weimer, Knutzen and Mann (6)
      Nays: Kershner (1)

      You make a good point at drawing the distinction between the commission and DVSAS. The commission does provide services to the community but not the same as DVSAS. But my main conclusion, that Kathy Kershner prioritizes advertising for Ski to Sea over preventing violence in our community, still holds. I’m going to do a brief edit drawing attention to this distinction but it doesn’t change my conclusion that cutting funding from essential programs like this over the Ski to Sea is out of touch with our values as Whatcom County citizens.

      This doesn’t mean that Kathy is a bad person, she is impeccably sweet in all my dealings with her, but in this case, I feel she was wrong.

  7. Riley, does the Ski to Sea funding come from the same pot of money as the DV funding? If not, what are the limitations of each fund – ie, what can the money legally be used for? If the Ski to Sea funding comes directly from the tourism tax (aka lodging tax) and if funding that race comes recommended from the Tourism Board (that pays the tax), would that change your opinion?

    • I know that the money comes from a different pot, but it is still the public’s money, and that Kathy chose to spend 30K on advertising for Ski to Sea but not on protecting women in our community is disappointing. I understand you are sticking up for your fellow representative, but in this case, I feel like her values are out of touch with Whatcom County.

  8. […] will be attending the first county council meeting this year, if only to say hi to my good friends Ken Mann and Kathy Kershner. I have also received a whole new bundle of public records from the Employee […]

  9. Just a point of information: ski to se funding should have come from the lodging tax and not the general fund. The lodging tax must be used to market the community. They should use the funds to market outside the County if done correctly.

    • Mike wins the prize! Yes, Ski to Sea funding comes from the lodging tax and could not legally be used for funding the DV Commission.

      • But the point is about priorities of government and what we chose to support and how we justify that. Kathy thinks that cutting funding to Domestic Violence prevention is perfectly fine, but is okay spending the public’s money on advertising for Ski to Sea. Like I said earlier, I understand that they are different pots of money, but it ignores the key point about the values of Whatcom County.

  10. […] more than a little blog heckling (of which I was a little over-the-top, thank you everyone for your feedback), Whatcom County […]

  11. […] about her votes and record. One citizen brought up her vote against money for the food bank and domestic violence commission at the height of the recession. She responded that it was her first council meeting and she […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: