The Three Rs
Wednesday, December 18, 2019
It’s difficult to put into words how grateful I am to have served my hometown as Bellingham’s mayor for the past eight years. It has been a privilege to have worked with so many great people in our community, the members of our City Council, our government partners, and our great city staff. Over the past eight years, we have accomplished a lot together.
I began my first term with a commitment to what I called “Tthe three Rs:” Respect, Relationships and Results. These values stuck with me and helped guide me through the years. The relationships with our partners have served our community well. We provided public access and infrastructure redevelopment of the Waterfront District in partnership with the Port of Bellingham. We developed a joint plan to protect Lake Whatcom in partnership with Whatcom County and the Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District to implement the Aquatic Invasive Species program. The county, the port and the city also coordinated lobbying efforts in Olympia to make sure our community was well represented, and we share funding for economic development. And the city and county also combined our advanced EMT services.
Protecting, preserving and developing our parks and trails have also been a priority. We are building a new 20-acre park in Cordata, we opened Waypoint Park on the waterfront, and we opened Squalicum Creek Park, providing much needed open space and public access on the northside and in our downtown core. We also entered a recreational access easement to forever preserve the public’s recreational use of miles of trails on Galbraith Mountain.
Over the years, we have further supported downtown revitalization through our relationship with the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, expanding their scope to include a retail recruiter. The city supports many events and activities that bring life to the City Center, such as the Paint B’ham Blue event in partnership with Western Washington University. We also supported downtown through the award-winning renovation of the historic Federal Building, a formerly almost empty building that is now occupied by dozens of city employees.
Having efficient, predictable service for our city is important to me. Several years ago we streamlined and coordinated the city’s permitting processes, allowing hundreds of new housing units and businesses to be generated to improve our local economy. We have provided expanded services for those who are the most vulnerable in our community, finding solutions to homelessness and affordable housing, as well as jail alternatives and the implementation of the GRACE program.
The city has promoted community policing and community paramedicine to connect those most in need of services with the most appropriate help. We created the Homeless Outreach Team, operated by the Whatcom Homeless Service Center, to connect persons experiencing homelessness with services. With support from the Bellingham Housing Levy, we’ve partnered with Mercy Housing, Catholic Housing Services, Bellingham Housing Authority, Opportunity Council and Northwest Youth Services to create 80 apartments for people experiencing homelessness and another 80 units for low-income seniors.
All of these things have taken the dedication of our talented, dedicated staff, who work every day to keep our parks, trails, streets, water, neighborhoods and community safe for everyone.
We have focused on the public interest with everything we do, and I believe I’m leaving Mayor Elect Seth Fleetwood with a good team and systems in place to solve community issues into the future.
I like being a workhorse rather than a show horse. When the relationships and the processes are in place, it’s not hard to get a lot done. It’s been an honor to represent the city I was born and raised in. While a lot has changed, I believe it can only get better. Thank you, Bellingham.
Kelli Linville is mayor of Bellingham.