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October 17, 2019 | 4:37pm
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Letter to the Editor: WCAR candidate endorsements

Whatcom County Association of REALTORS® members devoted several days interviewing candidates vying for election across Whatcom County.  Candidates submitted written materials and attended a personal interview.  Interview subjects included homelessness and housing affordability, rising property taxes and utility rates, and bringing new commercial space and residential units to Ferndale’s downtown.  REALTORS® know first-hand the difficulties that individuals encounter attempting to find affordable housing.  Although Ferndale is historically more affordable than other Whatcom cities, Ferndale is now one of the fastest growing cities in Washington State, a status that accompanies other issues including rapidly rising home costs and infrastructure challenges.  “While all candidates have sympathy for individuals struggling with housing, we were interested in candidates who, through both actions and words, expressed a willingness to tackle issues of housing regulations and local economics supporting livable wages that, on balance, maintained the high quality of life Ferndale residents deserve” said WCAR Government Affairs Chair Brad Hanks of RE/Max Whatcom County, Inc.  He continued, “Ferndale needs and deserves elected officials willing to bring their experience and expertise in a variety of disciplines to deliberate on Ferndale’s challenges and work with the citizens to find good solutions.”

Ferndale Mayor – Greg Hansen:  It is clear that Ferndale is at a crossroads – REALTOR® members have watched the median price of housing in the City increase nearly $100,000 raising affordability concerns, struggled to find businesses willing to invest in the downtown core with the antiquated buildings, and lamented the increasing time frames for permitting.  Ferndale needs a mayor with demonstrated supervisory experience to inspire staff and manage the city’s physical and financial resources necessary to effectively and efficiently move Ferndale forward – that person is Greg Hansen. 

Affordable housing involves much more than meetings and reports, it requires a holistic view that extends past purchase price and encompasses the cost of homeownership.  Greg Hansen understands that over 50% of Whatcom County families currently pay over 30% of gross income for housing making additional aspects of every-day life difficult.  Increasing property taxes and utility bills to pay for infrastructure and civic necessities that have long been ignored now threaten the financial health of Ferndale citizens.  Greg Hansen recognizes this problem and is actively working to balance those competing interests.  REALTORS® are confident that Greg will bring his substantial management experience to bear on other issues confronting the City and work closely with the Council and citizens to move Ferndale forward responsibly. 

Ferndale City Council Pos. 2 – Paul Bulanov:  Paul Bulanov of the Bulanov Group at Keller Williams Realty is our choice for Ferndale City Council Position 2.  Paul knows first-hand the difficulties of affordable housing resulting from a lack of supply of such housing in Ferndale and Whatcom County.  Paul, as a result of his real estate background, understands the importance of property rights, water concerns, and providing necessary city infrastructure while keeping focused on sustainable growth within the city, concerns we all share.  Paul has the knowledge and skills to move Ferndale forward in a way in which we can all be proud and confident in our future. 

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Ferndale City Council Pos. 4 – Teresa Taylor:  This is the second time the REALTORS® endorsed Teresa Taylor’s candidacy for City Council, and for good reason.  Teresa’s first term has seen her immerse herself into civic organizations in Ferndale and Whatcom County including Ferndale Downtown Association and the Whatcom Transit Authority.  Teresa is also a successful entrepreneur and project manager for the Lummi Indian Business Council.  Moreover, as the former community relations manager for Alcoa, Teresa understands the importance of our heavy industry neighbors and their contributions to our community.  Teresa brings energy and necessary experience to the City Council and REALTORS® know that is important when considering issues confronting our community. 

Ferndale City Council Pos. 7 – Ramon Llanos:  Ramon Llanos brings a unique combination of experience in engineering, development, and real estate issues; Ramon is a broker at Muljat Group North.  Ramon’s interview with the REALTOR® panel included specific answers involving alternative options for Ferndale’s infrastructure, zoning, and downtown revitalization.  Ramon’s presentations to the Ferndale Council, according to REALTOR® Government Affairs Director, Perry Eskridge, are “the most professional, practical, and reasonable suggestions that I have witnessed at public hearings anywhere.”  Based on his involvement in recent projects including the city’s accessory dwelling units, traffic improvements, and his extensive knowledge of the city’s utilities and infrastructure, Ramon is the clear choice for Ferndale Council Position 7. 

Whatcom REALTORS® also endorsed Herb Porter (Pos. 1) and Erin Gunter (Pos. 3) while those races were contested and are pleased that these two well qualified people will be serving the City beginning in 2020.  Whatcom REALTORS® invited the candidates for Position 5 to interview with the Association but the candidates declined. 

The REALTOR® Code of Ethics, the standard to which all REALTOR® members subscribe, admonishes brokers to recall that the national interest is served by “creation of adequate housing, the building of functioning cities, the development of productive industries and farms, and the preservation of a healthful environment.”  The Association’s made these endorsement decisions based on the alignment of the prospective candidates with these aspirational goals, goals that are universal and, when in harmony, provide quality of life for every Ferndale citizen.

Whatcom County Association of REALTORS®, with 850 members, is Whatcom County’s largest professional association.  Founded in 1908, the Association is one of 13 boards that founded the National Association of REALTORS® and is celebrating 111 years of serving Whatcom County’s real estate market.

R. Perry Eskridge
Executive Officer/Government Affairs Director
Whatcom County Association of REALTORS®


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2 COMMENTS

  1. I did not pursue this endorsement, though the association was very communicative and encouraged me to several times. I appreciate their hard work. I am doing my best to run a campaign without endorsements that could lead to any sort of expectation once elected.

    Good luck to all endorsed!

    Ali

  2. Ali,
    Thank you for acknowledging that the Whatcom REALTORS(R) encouraged you to participate. We encourage all candidates to participate in our process, primarily because it gives us an excellent opportunity to have a conversation with those seeking to represent us and, in turn, get to know them personally and hear their ideas on the issues.

    I did want to address the notion that endorsements equal votes. The REALTORS(R) are of the fundamental opinion that REALTOR(R) endorsed candidates are not beholden to the Association for votes. Indeed, some of our best ideas and discussions have come from endorsed candidates who have disagreed with the Association on some points. The integrity of coming to a group of people who have supported you and stating that you disagree with our position is something we welcome – Cathy Watson did it frequently and on a variety of issues! Yet, we also knew Cathy would hear us, consider our opinion, and make the decision she felt best for Ferndale. The ability to be heard is the only expectation raised from an endorsement.

    In the final analysis, there is much to be done following the election and Ferndale citizens deserve the best from everyone. If anyone has questions about the Association’s stance on issues or ideas that we have supported in the past, please feel free to contact me at your convenience.

    Perry

Comments are closed.