Sumas accepting written comments

  Written comments are again being accepted by Sumas City Hall regarding the proposed concrete plant until Feb. 6. New material regarding putting in better culverts on Sumas Creek to reduce possible flooding is available at City Hall. This material was paid for by the concrete plant owners. Third-party nonpartisan material regarding flooding issues stemming from a new concrete plant in this area will not come out until the first week of February.

  The public hearing will be Monday, Feb. 10.  We are fairly confident that the City Council will vote at this time.

  A good turnout with letter writing and at the public hearing will help residents have a voice in their quality of life.

  Letters may be sent to Michelle Quinn at mquinn@cityofsumas.com

— Meg Kreig, Sumas

Supports Local Options RCV bill

  Compared to most states, election procedures in Washington are exemplary — easy voter registration and mail-in ballots, for example. The Local Options bill (HB1722, SB5708) now in the State Legislature offers another step forward, permitting localities, if they wish, to try ranked-choice voting (RCV). Its 34 co-sponsors include 42nd District Rep. Sharon Shewmake. 

  RCV allows voters to rank candidates in elections with more than two running. If no candidate has a majority, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the second choices of that candidate are transferred to those remaining. If necessary, this repeats until one candidate has a majority. Unlike our current state-mandated system (August primary, top two advancing to the November election), a single RCV election systematically narrows the field, making primaries unneeded and ensuring that those elected have the broadest possible support.

  In 2016 Maine adopted RCV for Congressional elections and in 2019 for all state elections. New York City last year voted overwhelmingly to join many places nationwide using RCV, some for many years. (see FairVote.org/rcv)

  Some argue that voters would be confused by RCV ballots and tabulating votes would be complicated, but those concerns are unsupported by the experience of localities using RCV. Opposition might also reflect an unspoken reluctance to give voters any more influence on elections than they already have. Not surprisingly, opposition comes largely from one side of the political spectrum. (Don’t expect RCV in Alabama or Mississippi any time soon.)

  No system for translating voter choices to elected candidates is flawless. But RCV is clearly better than most for encouraging voter turnout, eliminating the “spoiler effect,” discouraging negative campaigning, and ensuring those elected have broad support.

  If you feel localities should have the freedom to decide how to run their own elections, encourage our legislators in Olympia to support the the Local Options bill.

— John Whitmer, Bellingham

Thanks to Shewmake

  I am thankful that Rep. Sharon Shewmake has stepped up to tackle the issue of lack of childcare providers in the rural and suburban parts of Washington for families of children not old enough to attend school yet and for future families.

  According to the Center for American Progress in October 2019, Whatcom County has licensed childcare slots for 4,462 despite there being over 8,000 children under the age of 5 living in households where all parents work full-time. This meets the needs of only 45 percent of our community’s childcare needs. 

  Rep. Shewmake is sponsoring the Rural Childcare Access Act (House Bill 2619) in the state Legislature. Not only will this bill direct state agencies to report back how to promote innovations in childcare licensing in rural areas, but it will also bridge the gap in matching market-rate costs for childcare with the Early Childhood Education & Assistance Program for lower-income families in our community. This is common-sense legislation and I hope lawmakers around the state can take action for our rural families. 

— Maralise Fegan, Ferndale