Ballots have been mailed, you’ll be receiving your ballot any day now and be presented with the choice to vote not only for the candidates you believe will best represent your values, but also for or against Proposition 5 and the EMS levy.
This year, I urge you to vote against both Proposition 5 and the EMS levy, not because I am opposed to what they will accomplish, but because I am prioritizing public safety in Whatcom County.
Just a couple weeks ago, the Bellingham Police Department arrested an individual for the 68th time. This individual has been involved in 61 separate court cases since 1998 and is awaiting trial on possession of a stolen vehicle, two counts of first-degree burglary, and one count of second-degree robbery. While state legislation is partially to blame for this, our inadequate jail facility is also a contributing factor.
Sheriff Bill Elfo recently stated that two days after he moved to Whatcom County in 1996, he attended a meeting in which experts stated that the Whatcom County jail was inadequate and needed to be replaced. Our jail was inadequate in 1996. Twenty-six years later, our desperately-needed jail facility is still all-talk and no action.
Even if the levy for the jail was on your ballot this fall, experts estimate that it will take five to six years to build the jail. We can’t afford to continue pushing this down the road.
It’s very clear that Whatcom County needs a new jail facility. At the same time, Washington’s inflation rate has reached 12.4%, costing families an additional $673 per a month for the same products they purchased before. Families across Whatcom County just received their 2022 assessed property tax value increase, many of which have increased by over $100,000. As property values skyrocket, so will our taxes. If Proposition 5 or the EMS levy both pass this year, families will be unlikely to support the levy needed for the jail because they’ll be paying these other increased taxes.
It’s essential that our families have access to quality childcare and that our first-responders have the resources they need. Unfortunately, our public safety crisis has been putting our children and our first-responders at risk.
The Whatcom County Republican Party is not supporting Proposition 5 or the EMS levy not because we are voting against increased access to childcare or increased resources for first-responders, but rather because we are voting for a safer, more affordable Whatcom County. Let’s take care of first things first.
Experts have been clear that our jail facility has been inadequate since 1996. Law enforcement has been clear on the need for this new facility to include not only increased capacity, but mental health and detox facilities so Whatcom County can begin to tackle the drug epidemic and homelessness crisis we’re facing. By tackling all of these issues, we’ll create a County where our kids can learn, grow, and play in safety and where our first-responders are responding to fewer mental health crises that could be prevented with resources from a new facility.
This year, in a time of record-high inflation, vote no on Proposition 5 and the EMS levy.
Next year, vote yes on the proposed levy for the Whatcom County Jail.
After we address our immediate and long-overdue need for a new jail facility, Whatcom County families can decide again if they can afford and want to support a proposition similar to Proposition 5 and a levy like the proposed one.
Together we can build a safer, more affordable Whatcom County so our children can thrive in the County we love.
For our posterity,
Chair, Whatcom County Republican Party