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.
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.