Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
4 years on Ferndale City Council,
13 years as a Community College Instructor,
20 years experience in the Hospitality industry, and over 8 years in Hospitality management
I love the Ferndale community. This has been my home for nearly 50 years. I first ran for Ferndale City Council four years ago because I truly believe that government is a force for good in peoples’ daily lives. In my four years on City Council, I have learned a lot about our city government, our community, the businesses and organizations that serve us, and our relationships with other communities and governments. Responding to the requests of many individuals whose opinions I respect, I am running for Mayor of Ferndale.
I will build strong working relationships with community leaders, councilmembers, City staff, and regional leaders. I will work hard to engage in healthy dialog and build trust between government and our community. Ferndale deserves a choice in leadership that has deep roots in our community, who is engaged, who makes thoughtful and informed decisions, and who works collaboratively toward a shared vision for our city.
Traffic: Ferndale citizens are concerned about the impacts of increasing traffic through Ferndale. We have to ensure that our roads are safe and modern, while also ensuring our downtown is walkable with the appropriate placing of sidewalks, traffic lights, and crosswalks. The Thornton Overpass project will help divert traffic from downtown, allowing quicker and safer commutes.
Downtown Revitalization: Downtown Ferndale has struggled for years, seeing very little investment. Programs such as the Catalyst Incentives, designed to off-set the increased costs of development downtown, have the potential to transform our city center into a vibrant and welcoming place, with restaurants, shops, and events that encourage families and residents to spend their time and dollars in Ferndale.
Growth: Growth in Ferndale brings both challenges and opportunities. Ensuring our growing population has access to clean water, safe roads, and affordable housing are vital to sustaining our community.
Ferndale is a great place to live and raise a family. Ferndale’s tremendous growth brings both challenges and opportunities. Our city is in a good position to accommodate future growth: We are investing $17 million in the Thornton Road overpass which will help alleviate some of our traffic frustrations; We are investing about $25 million in the construction of a new wastewater treatment facility that should meet our needs for another 20 years and likely more; and, We are working to obtain water rights for our city’s new deep well which taps a previously unused water source which is expected to serve our needs for a generation. Equally as important is establishing utilities rates, connection fees, and impact fees that share the cost burden fairly. Finally, the City of Ferndale must continue to develop zoning and housing standards that encourage density, multifamily housing, and unique housing options as a way of achieving affordable housing options for all of our residents’ needs.
The Mayor and City Council are elected to have difficult conversations and make difficult and consequential decisions that impact Ferndale residents every day. The Mayor and Council owe it to those we represent to make decisions with transparency. I believe the best decisions for our City are made when council is involved in the process from the beginning. Even more, when dealing with divisive and significant issues, it is important that we have honest and vigorous discussion where disagreements are a valued part of the decision making process. When we respect and consider the diversity of opinions, identities, and backgrounds in our community, we make decisions that enable everybody to thrive.
Ferndale has a significant role in dealing with issues surrounding the environment. Because Ferndale is bisected by the Nooksack River, one of our city’s primary responsibilities is enforcing Department of Ecology (DOE) stormwater regulations to insure that contaminates do not enter our streams and rivers. Enforcing the newest DOE stormwater regulations has meant educating contractors, developers, and the public about the rules, and why they are important in maintaining healthy waterways and habitat. Additionally, the City can be the example for environmental stewardship by including environmentally sound practices in city projects such as: pervious surfaces to road projects and rain gardens to control and filter stormwater runoff; include LEED certified building techniques for any new city construction and incentivize LEED design strategies in private construction projects, and continue to require and maintain trees and greenspace in new residential and commercial developments.
Ferndale’s tremendous growth also calls attention to Ferndale’s aging infrastructure. A number of residential streets are in a sad state of disrepair. Roads that were once rural, and built without sidewalks, now handle significant amounts of both car and pedestrian traffic. Even more, many of Ferndale’s primary roads are not able to handle the increase in traffic. As a community we often struggle to find the resources to pay for these much needed road improvements. At the same time, growth has also required the City find additional sources of drinking water and expand our capacity to treat and deliver that water to Ferndale residents. Additionally, Ferndale is in the process of funding and designing a new wastewater treatment plant because our current plant has reached its capacity and the end of its useful life. Just as important is establishing utilities rates, connection fees, and impact fees that share the costs of infrastructure improvements and expansion fairly.
I would not support the City of Ferndale becoming a “Sanctuary City.” At the same time, as mayor, I would not dedicate any city resources (the police) to the search and detainment of undocumented immigrants. I believe that the Ferndale Police are here to serve and protect all residents, regardless of their immigration status.
For many years, the City of Ferndale and its residents have responded to homelessness through a variety of faith-based and civic organizations. Ferndale’s Other Bank, Community Meal, and the Ferndale Community Resource Center are examples. While the City has assisted with these activities, more can be done. Under the leadership of Councilperson Kate Hansen (no relation), the City of Ferndale has organized the North Whatcom County Poverty Task Force, a temporary organization dedicated to examining the impacts of homelessness, food insecurity, income inequality, and housing affordability in the Ferndale community and beyond, then providing recommendations for the City for addressing these issues. The City must continue to dedicate resources to help provide assistance to the most vulnerable individuals in our community by expanding funding for organizations like the Ferndale Community Service Cooperative and implementing the Poverty Task Force’s recommendations.
Town where you live
Experience (300 characters max)
Ferndale mayor; two-term council member; Whatcom County Charter Review Commissioner. Whatcom County Council of Governments (chair). Small Cities Caucus. Commission on Sexual & Domestic Violence (Law & Justice Committee). Ferndale Community Coalition. Founding & lead pastor, Ferndale Alliance Church
I originally ran for mayor in 2015 because a large number of citizens, across the political spectrum, urged me to run, including my predecessor. I urge readers to visit my web site, ww.ReelectJon.com for a long list of accomplishments by this administration. The highlights include attracting some $43,000,000 in state grants for large improvements to connect Thornton to I-5, a series of roundabouts at Slater as we partner with Lummi Nation on their project, ADA sidewalks for Pioneer Park, and assistance with our wastewater treatment plant upgrade. I am also pleased with the ability of this administration, at all levels, to engage with the public, increase public awareness, and invite in community members to have a voice in their government.
We will have a brand new council on January 1 with quite possibly as little as six years total experience among the 7 of them. More than ever, experience, results, and success is needed from Ferndale's mayor which is why I'm running again.
1. Court and City Hall Facilities: The mayor and council have identified the replacement of City Hall and our Municipal Court as extremely high in not just our priorities list, but in our Comprehensive Plan. These are complicated projects but need to be done for the sake of efficiency, safety, and public expectations. It is my hope that this next council and mayor will find affordable and long-lasting solutions to these projects. This administration has already looked at and worked on a number of possibilities and we look forward to working on them with Council.
2. Financing our waste-water treatment plant upgrade. This is a $25,000,000 project that, by all accounts, is needed and necessary. In the next few months this administration will bring a variety of financing options to Council for their decision and direction.
3. Partnering with the School District on a new high school: I've asked staff to make an extra effort to assist with this $100,000,000 project.
The most urgent need is to come up with a fair and equitable financing plan for our wastewater treatment plant. There is some good news: we have received some grant money as well as a very low interest (2%) loan on the remaining amount of the project from the state. This has already saved us several million dollars.
Council will need to study this carefully and help the administration decide on the needed and necessary components of the WWTP project and how revenues are going to be raised to pay the debt service: On the table will be customer rates, development hook-up fees, and other revenues sources that they will look at. We also need to consider how "growth" helps pay for this. This is a fixed amount of debt, and as more housing units are built and more customers (residents) created, this spreads out the cost. This is a case where the growth very much helps to pay for the infrastructure that we all need and rely upon.
It is the job of both the council and mayor to move past "politics" once an election is over. This can be challenging. Ferndale is a 50/50 purple town, by all accounts. If we were a state, we would be a "swing state." I have a 10-year political record of working successfully with leaders left, right and center and will continue that with this new council.
But at the end of the day it is about respect, decorum, and civility.
One thing this administration accomplished last year, with the help of some of the council, was the adoption of a Council "Decorum" statement. Below is the link to the whole document. I worked with our staff to draft the document, looking at other jurisdictions, then handed it off to Council to improve and craft to their liking. It was adopted by the entire body. It is my hope that future elected officials will make the values expressed in it their goal. [Look for Section 12, Decorum]:
Our city, our mayor, and our elected officials are charged by oath to follow state and federal laws in respect to the environment. This, I am pledged to do, without compromise. This manifests itself in our own City projects, as well as private developments that we are required to inspect and enforce. I am a big outdoors enthusiast, with every leg of Ski-to-Sea Race under my belt: mountain, trails, road, river, bay: I appreciate and respect the beauty we have and believe we should make it foremost in public policy. I believe we can leave a better Whatcom County for our children and grandchildren, while still managing growth and healthy economic development.
Their are needs and projects small and large. Large is the entire Thornton Road project: some $22,000,000 worth of road, sewer, storm, water, utilities, and bridge to make access to I-5 much easier for the whole city. We break ground this summer. I am pleased that under this administration we obtained all, or at least most, of the financing needed for this project.
I also mentioned earlier our wastewater treatment plant which will move forward next year.
Finally, our city drilled a new well last year, tapping a new untouched aquifer. We await approval from the DOE and DOH in order to build the well-house, convenience system, and treatment facility in order to secure our water future for possibly decades.
I have already mentioned, earlier, our Municipal Court and City Hall needs, above.
Our police are tasked with keeping the law which does not include random checking of citizenship. The mayor has no authority or jurisdiction over border issues. On a related issue, I note that Ferndale is becoming a lot like our county and our country: diverse and rich in color and culture. I love that. If one looks closely at the candidates (photos and names) in the current Ferndale City Council race, there is more diversity and cultural background differences than ever before. This pleases this mayor and means our government is beginning to look more like our community.
As all know, homelessness means a lot of things ranging from those who can't afford to rent or buy in Ferndale (but have some income) and those that have no choice but to sleep outside or in their car. I have appointed a poverty task force of some 12 citizens who are digging deeper to find out what our needs are. It is my desire that the city has report from this commission before the end of the year and some direction for us as a city.
Where Ferndale leads is affordable housing: whether it is multi-family (apartments: where many of us start), ADUs (mother in law suites), self-help homes (we have nearly 500 of them!), or giving more flexility to builders to built on odd-sized lots, Ferndale is doing more than any city to increase the housing inventory in Whatcom County.
A final comment: in speaking with poverty/homeless experts, our best tool is relationships: family, neighbor, friendship, work, and church relationships. Relationships are the best safety net in any community.