Ben Elenbaas – County Council District 5


Ben Elenbaas. Photo courtesy of Ben Elenbaas.
Ben Elenbaas. Photo courtesy of Ben Elenbaas.

Candidate’s submitted biography (unedited):

I am running for County Council because I want to restore a balance to the Council that County residents deserve.  I want to make sure that jobs are available and housing will be affordable enough that people won’t have to look elsewhere for a sustainable community. I have been concerned for a while now for many reasons. It started with my experiences as a small farmer which drove me to get involved but i quickly learned that farming was not the only area that warranted my concern. My time on the Whatcom County Planning Commission often left me scratching my head about the principles I saw being enacted in regards to land use policy, policy that was intended to protect the environment, preserve farm land and provide housing options for our growing population but didn’t often deliver. I saw public comment being ignored for fear of litigation from high dollar activist groups.

I earned my degree at Western Washington University in Natural Sciences with a minor in Environmental Studies and Geography, most of my course work was taken at Huxley College of the Environment. I grew up on a farm. I work at an oil refinery. I produce things that people need on a daily basis, a lot of people in Whatcom County produce things that people need particularly within the 5th district. We often hear the narrative that we can either have clean water and harvestable salmon populations or we can have agriculture, we can have clean air or we can have industry. In the world I live in we have both, we must have both. I often caution people to be very leary of someone who presents these topics as either/or propositions. I am running for County Council in 2019 because this is the narrative I hear from the current members of the Whatcom County Council. I don’t see them delivering the type of sustainable community that we need.

We have an affordable housing issue, we have a homelessness crisis, the agricultural industry is struggling. Farmers often choosing to shut down and move on in this highly regulated area, local jobs are under attack because of what seems to be an extreme lack of understanding about the industries in our district or an extreme agenda, all this while we struggle to pass a school bond to accommodate our children’s future. We deserve better. 

Climate change is a major concern. As an 18 year employee of the Cherry Point Refinery I understand what it takes to produce fuel that we need in a safe and world class facility that uses cutting edge technology, industry leading environmental controls and is in the forefront of renewable fuel production all while employing thousands of Whatcom County residents. The industries in the 5th district supply not only fuel and jobs the community needs, they also supply an overwhelming amount of taxes that benefit all of us. A sustainable community would seek to facilitate a regulatory environment in which these companies can continue to improve on their renewable fuel objectives, something our current council has demonstrated they are not willing to do. As a longtime member of the Farm Bureau and Cattlemen’s Association currently serving as the President of the WC Farm Bureau I have spent most of my adult life working with local and state governments to produce good regulations that protect the environment and protect our ability to produce food in Whatcom County. Let me bring my experience on the Planning Commission and Charter Review Commission to restore local government so that citizen’s and farmers, small businesses and the exploited all have an equal voice to the agenda driven activist groups.

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