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Letter to the Editor: Leaning toward Llanos for city council

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I spent 8 years on city council, we were busy all of the time, one project after another. We had 2 trained engineers on that council, myself and Cathy Watson.

When you are considering spending tax payers money on a project, it really helps to have members on the council that can understand what contractors are talking about. A working knowledge of the terminology and methodology described in documents can save huge amounts of time and $$$$’s. As far as I can determine, Mr. Llanos is an engineer first and foremost, and I feel we need that balance on a new council that will be facing a very challenging 4 years.

Paul Ingram

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  1. Cathy Watson October 5, 2019

    Hi, Paul. I hope you’ll also find some time to speak to Maralise Fegan. Wendy and I worked with Maralise on the school bond and she always asked the tough questions and forced Staff to give her adequate answers before she agreed to anything. And while Mr. Llanos is indeed an engineer, he’s also a developer who has come to Council asking for rezoning, code variances, etc. for both himself and his clients. Given the out-sized influence the building community has had on Ferndale Staff, Mayors, and the majority of Councilmembers for more than 15 years, maybe Ferndale residents should hire some Councilmembers who don’t think every problem can be solved by making it easier for developers to build more unaffordable housing, while also giving them taxpayer dollars via incentives and property tax exemptions.

  2. glenn stewart October 6, 2019

    I read with interest the letters from Paul Ingram and Cathy Watson, both are effective statements. I’ve endorsed neither candidate (Llanos, Fegan), but I do have an opinion about this, much of which I’ve already expressed in this forum. Paul writes about the benefit of having expertise where the city needs it, Cathy speaks of ‘out-sized influence’ by the ‘building industry.’ Both Cathy & Paul refer to the past 15 or 16 years, when both served on the Council. Clearly the Councils of the past 15 years have gotten a lot wrong—the results are manifest everytime one sits in a hostage crisis on Main St. or replaces an appliance due to untenable water quality and costs to the end user.

    It seems to me that if Ramon Llanos is elected we’ll have one building industry expert on the council, which, (I agree with Paul), is useful. I agree with Cathy that moneyed interest, (not just building enthusiasts) have had too much sway, indeed other interests, like the desire to have an outsized police station ($500,000 a yr. for 20 years passed ‘in-council’), have held too much sway as well.

    I disagree with Ms. Fegan in her broad vilification of what she calls “developers,” and I disagree with Cathy that Mr. Llanos’ election would somehow omen the “outsized influence of developers.” The outsized influence of moneyed interest was apparent on Paul & Cathy’s watch—My recollection is that Cathy & Paul were on opposite sides of many issues, but I heard no one opining that either of them was somehow advocating for his or her own interests, only their differing worldviews. This is a new council we’re electing—Mr. Llanos would be one among 6, really 7 voices on the council, and I doubt that either his or Ms. Fegan’s voice would overwhelm all the others.

    I’ve written in this forum that we have a volunteer, citizen-council. So far there are no effective mechanisms for vetting and mitigating conflicts of interest among the members. Recent controversies with the mayor and a sitting councilmember have revealed that such matters are unclear to say the least. Still, in the absence of any effective mitigating mechanisms for dealing with conflicts of interest, Ms. Fegan and Cathy would have us effectively ban certain professions/vocations from serving on the council, if not in theory, then in practice.

    I realize that Ms. Fegan is asking the voters to reject Mr. Llanos after she labels him a “developer,” ostensibly because he will wield undo influence (somehow) against the interests of the average resident. I have lots of questions in the face of her attacks on his motives and characterizations of his profession, but my primary question is: What has he done that’s so terrible? If you disagree with his positions on issues, fair enough…but that is not a basis upon which to paint him as somehow the enemy of the people. My analysis is that he’s devoted much of his time to civic participation, which is well recorded elsewhere. I’ll put my liberal/progressive credentials up against anyone’s, indeed I am inclined to despair at the power of corporate/moneyed interests over the lives of average citizens, capitalism has gone terribly wrong. The idea that Mr. Llanos somehow represents those nefarious interests is unfounded, and frankly, over the top hyperbolic.

    I’ve written before, and I believe now that both Ms. Fegan and Mr. Llanos would make fine councilmembers. They bring different experiences and skill sets to the table to be sure. But given our volunteer citizen-council model wherein anyone who is a resident may serve, we are left only with the goodwill of all involved to make it work. Mr Llanos has not attacked Ms. Fegan in any way, he has run his own campaign, shared his thoughts. His opposition has time and again questioned both his motives and the efficacy of his profession. Since, as I say, ‘goodwill’ is our only hope given our flawed system, the tone and content of the attacks on Mr. Llanos do not bode well for a citizen-council wherein ‘goodwill’ prevails as a guiding principle.

    Glenn Stewart

  3. Cathy Watson October 6, 2019

    Mr. Stewart – Pointing out a candidate has a vested interest in the position they’re running for is not attacking that person, it’s part of the process of vetting them as a candidate. Reading a candidate’s happy words about themselves is not sufficient to determine if they should be trusted to make decisions for Ferndale residents. You’ve run for Council yourself, twice I believe, as did I, so you understand you have to explain everything about your background to voters so they know how you’ll represent them. In the end, voters need to know their elected officials will make decisions to best serve the majority of Ferndale residents, not their small professional cadre.

  4. J.Manuel Reta October 6, 2019

    J.Manuel Reta
    A president: let not what your country do for you but what you can do for your country.
    The Hispanic culture is to give serves to the people and not try to get attention for themselves. Ramon has saved money for Ferndale, the recycling of a street in Ferndale is just the beginning of his works and the coummuity has benefited from the works. His a man of his word that you can trust in Ferndale.
    He has had vandalism of his signs with no help from community but is persisted in repairing them.
    We must trust and obey all candidates with honor and respect.
    I will vote for Ramon for his knowledge in city codes and his experiences in not just Ferndale but Whatcom county
    Thank you

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