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Whatcom County City of Bellingham Mayor

The mayor shall be the chief executive and administrative officer of the city, in charge of all departments and employees, with authority to designate assistants and department heads. He or she shall see that all laws and ordinances are faithfully enforced and that law and order is maintained in the city, and shall have general supervision of the administration of city government and all city interests. The mayor essentially serves as both the leader in name of the city, and the day-to-day active city manager.

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    April Barker
    (NP)

  • Seth Fleetwood
    (NP)

Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major management issues facing your city or town?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What methods will you use to work successfully with the council?

What do you think is your city/town’s role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment?

What are the issues surrounding your city/town's infrastructure?

How do you think your city/town should approach legal and illegal immigration issues?

How do you think your city/town could best respond to homelessness?

Phone (360) 739-1598
Email april@aprilbarker.com
Town where you live Bellingham
Experience (300 characters max) Bellingham City Council Ward 1, 2016 to present: Chair of Planning and Community Development, Member of Justice and Public Works/Natural Resources Committees. Council Liaison: Library Board of Trustees, Sustainable Connections, Bellingham International Airport Advisory.
For nearly a decade in this community I have been working to evolve systems to make Bellingham a place that works for everyone. When folks want to connect across cultures and improve their organizations’ diversity, equity and inclusion goals, I’m the only candidate running for Mayor they come to for leadership and advice. I have a proven track record of building bridges, creating critical partnerships, building momentum and inspiring the change needed to tackle complex problems. I’m a leader who gets things done by putting community, fairness, and climate first. By closing the wealth gap, eliminating racial disparity, and tackling climate change we will improve our quality of life and sense of community - creating a legacy for Bellingham that future generations can believe in too.
Sustainable Budget: There are serious structural issues with our City’s budget. We have promised high levels of service that are increasingly difficult to maintain for many reasons. Put simply, our expenses are outpacing our revenues.

Housing that works: We desperately need to build the housing that the jobs we have can afford, transitional housing for those in substance use/behavioral health treatment and other jail diversions, temporary housing for those experiencing homelessness, housing that will meet the growing universal design demands for seniors and meaningfully accommodating our neighbors with disabilities, and a diverse mix of housing types across Bellingham’s neighborhoods to promote more upward economic mobility and match the growing diversity in our community.

Climate response for today and tomorrow: Two of the most urgent needs that will put more pressure on our budget are preventing future climate change and mitigating the climate change that has already occurred.
Housing! I bring a holistic, innovative approach to move the needle on these issues. Where we live has tremendous influence on our health, our access to resources and opportunity, our resilience, and our sense of community. How we build determines our impacts on the environment, needs for infrastructure, our public’s safety, and our responses to climate crisis. Two of the most important levers our city government has are land use and building codes, which govern where and how we build. Historically, across America, short-sighted use of these levers have benefited some and created roadblocks to progress and opportunity for low income folks, indigenous peoples, and communities of color--while degrading our environment and building economies dependent on fossil fuels. Housing is at the root of our greatest concerns and, when harnessed appropriately, we will create lasting solutions with meaningful and positive impacts on our community, our finances, and our environment.
As a Council Member, I understand the challenges of working part time with only two support staff. As Mayor, I will work with the Council to ensure they have the resources and access to information to make informed decisions on behalf of our community. I'll have regular meetings with Council members to understand their policy goals and their requests of staff.

As Mayor, I will work with Council to identify and commit the funds to build a robust communication strategy. This has been a request of the Council for three years.

The Mayor provides a budget for Council to amend and approve. As Mayor, I will improve transparency and develop a budget process with clearly stated goals and linked outcomes. I will work with staff to develop a public-facing community dashboard that shows where tax dollars are being spent and if the City is meeting its goals. This allows staff, community and Council the opportunity to track progress and course correct if we are not moving in the right direction.
We cannot separate climate change from housing; we need a holistic approach. Finding creative ways to add more housing types and permanently affordable options in all neighborhoods is the single most important action cities can do to address climate change. This will protect the surrounding natural beauty we all treasure and preserve the lands that grow our food. Growing in and up creates more opportunity to improve mass transit, reduce our carbon emissions and increase cost savings for our residents. We need a transition plan to convert buildings and transportation sources to 100% renewable electricity and ensure new construction is built to high standards.

Our kids have known nothing but climate reality. They have seen the devastating impacts across the globe and the wildlife they love. We need to protect them by increasing our City’s resilience with mitigation that will endure increasingly unpredictable weather patterns like sea level rise, droughts, and severe storms.
Over the years our City has not kept up with capital facilities maintenance. This has created a tremendous backlog and allowed some of our buildings to fall into disrepair. The City also has huge commitments for road resurfacing and safe bicycle and pedestrian infrastructure, bringing us back to our budget’s structural issues. Voters have stepped up to help in the past, like by approving the Transportation Benefits District to help meet our bicycle and pedestrian master plan goals, add WTA service, and provide road overlays. That will be coming back to the voters to approve next year. We also need to take a deep dive into our capital facility needs and find ways we can combine our resources and improve efficiencies. If elected Mayor, I will work with Council and staff to develop a strategy to catch up on our responsibilities, identify the funds necessary, and work to reach our climate action goals in the process.
Bellingham’s goal needs to be that everyone, regardless of immigration status, can access the full spectrum of city services and report mistreatment and/or civil rights violations, without fear of retribution. The City of Bellingham has no role in enforcing civil immigration issues. Immigrants are a vital part of our community and economy, yet they can be extremely vulnerable to predatory behavior that often goes unreported due to fear of law enforcement. Cities should work with the Governor's and Attorney General’s offices to find innovative ways to improve protections in compliance with state and federal law. Cities should also work with our state and federal elected officials to advocate for needed policy changes. Cities must work with those most impacted and their advocates to build relationships, learn perspectives and develop procedures and policies. To build this confidence, cities must hold employees accountable that don’t follow policies and procedures.
Whatcom County has 1,000 kids experiencing homelessness--higher than ever before--and senior citizens are our fastest growing homeless population. We need to be clear when we are talking about homelessness. Too often, we lump substance use disorder, behavioral health issues and criminal behavior with homelessness. There is crossover but most experiencing homelessness are off our radar. Grouping everything under homelessness makes us less effective in finding solutions. We need a paradigm shift from a scarcity mindset to a solvable mindset. We are already spending a lot of money on homelessness; we just don't know how much. We need to work across county jurisdictions and with folks experiencing homelessness to identify resources, implement evidence based solutions that have worked in other communities, and develop measures that hold us accountable, while continuing to identify and challenge the systemic forces that contribute to homelessness.
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