Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 5, 2014

Interviewing Dan Hammill for City Council

Looking for the Friday Odds and Ends? Don’t worry, they will still happen, they’ve just been delayed till tomorrow. For now, enjoy this interview with City Council applicant Dan Hammill.

Yesterday, I sat down with Dan Hammill, applicant for the City Council vacancy, to discuss his vision for Bellingham and he cut right to the heart of the matter. “I am applying to work on behalf of the things that make Bellingham a great place to live; Healthy families, distinct neighborhoods, local businesses, and access to greenways.” Succinct and direct, a reporter’s dream.

Dan Hammill

Dan Hammill

Peeling back the layers, I find that most of his priorities revolve around tackling growth and environmental protections – two subjects deeply intertwined in his eyes. “How do we grow sensibly? We can look at the UGA boundaries,” That stands for urban growth areas for you non-wonks out there, “we can look at infill and how we can retain our historic neighborhoods.”

Hammill notes that the York neighborhood neighborhood association came up with some “pretty good ideas” for how to protect their neighborhood and accommodate growth. “If we look at these ways to manage growth that respects the unique character of our city.”

These issues of growth are tied to bigger issues involving social services, Hammill explains. “Our aging senior population is part of that growth component. Baby boomers are aging, and Bellingham has been called a great place to retire. The question is, how do we adequately address the needs of seniors when it comes to housing and access to healthcare.”

What experience does Hammill bring to tackle these issues? “I’ve been involved in the community in a number of ways, as the President of the York Neighborhood Association, as program director at the Whatcom Volunteer Center working with engagement with the nonprofit community and the city of Bellingham.”

He highlights his involvement with the Community Development Advisory Board or CDAB for those acronym enthusiasts out there, which he chairs for the city. “The board has been in situations where we are underfunded around social and human services, so I understand working with a budget where there just isn’t enough money.” Currently, Hammill runs a small business that does fundraising events and activities for local non-profits like Brigid Collins and Kulshan CLT.

As we discussed the city budget, Hammill pulls up some charts on his laptop (technology AND charts? Be still my heart!). “On CDAB, we worked with (former council president) Seth Fleetwood to restore city contribution levels to pre-recession levels. We focused on prevention and intervention programs so we were thinking about the long-term solutions. Working with Mayor Linville, we didn’t get everything we wanted but we got a lot of what we wanted. Compromise is going to be part of the equation and that is what I bring.

I asked Hammill what was missing from the current council and he took a thoughtful pause. “What I would want to see is where the council is about being prepared to update the comprehensive plan in 2016. Where are those dialogues and discussions around that.”

What about the Waterfront? “I’m cautiously optimistic about the waterfront subarea plan. Grouping marine trades to the north and mixed use to the south is a good plan. I’m excited to see the possibility of a neighborhood of mixed use of residential, commercial where cars are not part of that plan. I want to see a space where people can walk and ride their bike.”

His view of the development is not entirely rosy. “There are those outstanding questions about environmental remediation – and there are different views and perspectives about that.” And with that deliciously vague statement I move on to Lake Whatcom.

“In terms of advocating for clean water and water issues, I believe what I did, worked on Carl Wemier’s campaign – was the biggest contribution to these issues. Reelecting an environmental hero like Carl has an impact that ranges from Lake Whatcom to shoreline rules.

In terms of our downtown, Hammill cites a need to revitalize maritime heritage park and to utilize the environmental learning center to a greater capacity. Aside from growth issues and planning, Hammill says that housing advocacy is “probably my strongest attribute when it comes to public service.” He talks about his work on the housing campaign in 2012 which was a ballot measure that set aside funds for affordable housing.

Which naturally leads to landlord licensing, the current issue of contention on the council. “My wife and I are landlords, we own a rental property, and I think that tenants deserve fair and safe housing. But I don’t think a complaint-driven system is the best way to handle enforcement around regulation. I’m generally supportive of regulating rental agreements but we need to have the enforcement, the teeth, to make sure it is a system that works.”

More generally, he emphasizes that he has lived here for twenty-five years, most of that time in Ward 3. “My wife, Kelly Bashaw will be the president of the Bellingham School Board next year and we both believe strongly in public service.”

I asked if he does not get the appointment, will Hammill run for the seat next year. Hammill thinks for a moment and says, “If appointed, I will absolutely be running because I think continuity of city council is important.” Beyond that, he is still making up his mind.

For my interview with Iris Maute-Gibson click here, for more information on who has applied click here. To support the work we do here at the Political Junkie, please click here.



  1. Thanks, Riley. The thing I like about Dan is that he’s been working on this stuff behind the scenes, nonstop, for years. Particularly the social services issues. I also remember the film he made years ago about the pipeline explosion and Whatcom Creek. He knows the issues and he’s spent some time time behind his camera documenting and learning. I’d love to see him get ahead of it on City Council at some point.

  2. Thank you for this, Riley. Some really good insights into the would-be councilman. Some impressive thinking on his part.

  3. It’s nice to see someone like Dan applying instead of the usual crazed far left radicals that have already tossed their hats in the ring.

    • LOL. You are so far out in right field Wayne, everyone who has even a MODERATE political viewpoint looks like a “far left radical” to you.

      • Moderates believe in NOTHING and MODERATE REPUBLICAN presidential candidates are unelectable:

        Bob Dole-1996

        John McCain-2008

        Mitt Romney-2012

      • Wayne-
        Mitt Romney is moderate? Not sure about that.

      • OK, Romney is a Liberal Republican, that is why 4 million Conservatives didn’t vote in 2012.

      • Mitt Romney is not liberal.

  4. Dan is a frickin rockstar.

  5. Where was the environmental part? You HAVE to say you support clean water and lake…even if you are Tea Party. And just acknowledging that different opinions exist on environmental issues says nothing.

    But here is what an environmentalist does not look like…someone focused on himself, his family, local businesses and trails for people.

    When you interview someone who speaks to biodiversity, ecosystem functions, mitigation manipulation, the need to protect forests and wetlands, open space, corridors, habitat and wildlfe… let me know.

    • Wendy,

      You need to differentiate between a traditional environmentalist and the Far left Radical Environmentalist of today. The former was truely concerned with the environment and the later hijacked the former’s organizations. A good example is the Sierra Club. When i joined in the early 1960’s it’s leaders were people like Barry Goldwater (a true lover of the environment) and look what we have NOW-an Ultra Left organization.

      • What you call a “traditional” environmentalist isn’t even really an environmentalist. They just call themselves an “environmentalist.”

      • In your opinion.

        The environmental movement is simply a new home (or cover) for the radical Leftists of the 1960’s and their offspring. It has become an religion much like the fundamentalist Christian movement. They are all about power through re-distribution of wealth and the destruction of America’s institutions.

        A “traditional environmentalist” is a person (like me) who is concerned with or advocates the protection of the environment.

    • “But here is what an environmentalist does not look like…someone focused on himself, his family, local businesses and trails for people.”

      How is focus on family, local business and trails exclusive of the

      • great point.

  6. James Gibson,

    OK, Romney is a Liberal Republican, that is why 4 million Conservatives didn’t vote in 2012.

    • Okay, maybe he is liberal for a Republican, but not in general.

      • That is exactly what I said.

  7. Wayne – I guess we should count it as a win when you are trying to co-opt the term “environmentalist.”

    1) First they ignore you.
    2) Then they hate you.
    3) Then they accept what you say as obvious.
    4) Meanwhile you haven’t said anything different.

    • Exactly.

    • You did. I was an environmentalist when it was not a religion

    • It is you and your fellow travelers who did the co-opting.

      The modern environmental movement started with the passage of the federal water pollution Control act on June 30, 1948.

      The Radical Left had ZERO interest in the environment until the 1960’s when Rachel Carson and Paul Ehrlich started stirring the pot.

  8. What is needed on both the city and county councils are true no-growthers, or at least slow-growthers. The myth of economic prosperity through constant and unending growth and development, or accelerated population growth is tacitly assumed by all of our local representatives, as far as I can tell. I hear no dissenting voices.

    • I agree, we need ‘”no-growth” in the Radical Far-Left.

      • Surely the city council members aren’t far left!?

    • I did the 3-hour short course on the Web about “sustainable” development recorded at the Lacy, WA, City Hall on 11/12/2013. Here is the link for several of the short course videos.

      Scroll down the page for the “sustainable” development videos.

      In the three videos I watched, the priorities for “sustainable” development were: 1) economic, 2) social, and only then 3) environmental. This is ass backwards because these are the goals for “development” when sustainability is not an issue. It is illogical to have the “sustainable” aspect be the same as that which is proven to be “unsustainable.” This is a conundrum that no one on any of the councils or planning commissions wishes to accept.

      There are two alternatives:
      1) Embrace no-growth policies right now and accept recession.
      2) Collapse later and suffer die-off.

      The reason people like me get called “doomers” is because we can see further over the horizon. Even the so-called “progressives” think we can SOMEHOW maintain our current lifestyles and SOMEHOW reduce our carbon footprint. It cannot be done. A clean environment means fewer jobs in the heavily polluting industries like BP, Intalco, mainstream farming, manufacturing and even government.

      As Mike R. said, we have to challenge the tacit assumptions.

      • Poverty for all. Thanks for your solution Walter. LOT’S OF LUCK WITH EITHER SIDE.

  9. […] interviews with other applicants, click here for Dan Hammill and here for Iris Maute-Gibson or stay tuned tomorrow for Michele Magee. If you are Scott Barg or […]

  10. […] Dan Hamill – Owner of an events planning company in town and former campaign manager for Carl Weimer. Check out my interview with Dan here. […]

  11. […] home, she pulls out her visual aid. She had read my earlier interviews with Iris Maute-Gibson and Dan Hammill where they used visual aids (Ward maps and budget charts, respectively). Magee’s visual aid, […]

  12. I think that Hammill will be appointed in the end.


  13. […] strong. In the meantime, read the rest of the interview with the candidates (Iris Maute-Gibson, Dan Hammill, Andrew Reding, Michele […]

  14. […] a burst of activity, Dan Hammill and Iris Maute-Gibson arrive within moments of each other. Iris brought a slight entourage with […]

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