Mail-in ballots must be asked for by Feb. 7

WHATCOM — Anyone who wants an absentee ballot mailed to them for the March 13 Whatcom Conservation District election must request it by 4 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 7.
 
Request a mail-in ballot, or other information on election procedures, online at http://www.whatcomcd.org/board-elections; by phone to 360-526-2381, ext. 118; or in person at the district office, 6975 Hannegan Rd. south of Lynden.
 
The early ballot-request deadline in this election sometimes comes as a surprise to people.
 
Conservation districts are special chartered under Washington state law to develop and implement programs to protect and conserve soil, water, prime and unique farmland, rangeland, woodland, wildlife, energy, and other renewable resources on non-federal lands. Districts also contribute to local economies and resolve conflicts in land use.
 
One seat on the Conservation District board of supervisors is up for election. A term is three years. The incumbent is Larry Helm, who also serves as board chair now.
 
The Whatcom board currently meets at 1 p.m. the second Thursday of each month. Meetings are open to the public. A supervisor attends about 20 meetings in a year. 
 
On the March 13 day of election, polls will be open at the district offices from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. All registered voters living within Whatcom County are eligible to vote. 
 
Three are running. These profiles were compiled from information supplied by the district. 
 
Alan Chapman
“As I move toward retirement, I retain a strong interest in using my experience in water quality, water quantity, fish habitat, and flood hazard management planning to lead to a win-win resolution of conflicting views. I believe that the right to own property carries with it the responsibility to use that property in a manner that does not adversely limit the enjoyment of others to use their property without their agreement. Cooperation among landowners is better than development of a costly and perhaps ineffective bureaucratic regulatory system to ensure that all landowners respect each other’s rights.
 
“My objective in seeking this position is to assist the Conservation District in their support of a viable agricultural community that contributes to the economic and environmental health of the county. If you agree with a non-confrontational constructive approach to achieving the full benefits of the beautiful area we live in, please support my candidacy.”
 
Chapman has been a biologist with the International Pacific Salmon Fisheries Commission, a chief in marine resources for Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands, a fisheries officer with the South Pacific Forum Fisheries Agency, a fisheries manager with the Nooksack Indian Tribe and a fisheries management biologist with Lummi Natural Resources. He has not held elected office before.
 
He earned biology degrees at UCLA, has served with Boy Scouts of America and has worked with the Whatcom Marine Resources Committee and in the Ten Mile Clean Water Program.
 
Larry Helm
“I was raised on a small dairy farm, but I chose to spend my professional career as a state park superintendent in California, including 30 years dealing with environmental issues on overused state lands. We strived to attain practical, science-based solutions. When I retired at 55, I moved to Bellingham, purchased a 20-acre farm and started raising Scottish Highlanders, bees and fruit trees.
 
“Five years ago, I was elected a supervisor to the Conservation District board. I have learned a lot and we have a great CD staff! They support economic farm viability, but they are guided by the domineering environmental regulations in this state and county. The farmer’s profit is regularly negatively impacted by fees and environmental regulations that generally result in higher food prices.
 
“We need to focus on our goals! If a farm is not polluting water downstream, then government should minimize its impact on that farm operation. Without a healthy profit margin, our farms will slowly disappear.”
 
Helm has also held elective office as Northwest chair of the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, a political precinct committee officer and within the Republican Party. He has been an overseer at Rome Grange, chair of the WRIA Water Association Caucus and vice-chair of the county Coordinated Water System Plan.
 
He has received peace officer standards training and various management certificates. Education was at Sierra Junior College and  Humboldt State University. He has been an elder in his church and helps with county cattlemen events. 
 
David Kroontje
“My family’s history in Whatcom County begins in 1915 and my wife’s predates statehood. Nancy and I grew up on Everson dairies where we learned to work, to value a dollar and to treasure family. We and many in our extended families (Kroontje, Dykstra, Sterk, DeVries, Rader, VanDyk, Seigman, Nace, Strom) have always been intimately tied to Whatcom County’s land — and to the farming and forestry it hosts.
 
“Preserving rural land, lifestyle and the associated amenities is important to me. The survival of Whatcom family farms and forestry, and retention of the many benefits emanating from those activities (benefits which accrue to all county residents) depends on favorable economics. The Whatcom Conservation District offers landowners capable assistance in balancing their operations’ economic needs with the environmental imperatives and societal demands stemming from an ever-growing population. 
 
“I believe that my lifetime of local perspective, and my varied experience, education and interests would be useful to the WCD in helping landowners responsibly maintain the economic viability of their farms and forest. I would be honored to serve on your WCD Supervisory Board.”
 
Kroontje was a manufacturing engineer with Zodiac Aerospace, a pilot with Empire Airlines and a freelance flight instructor. He founded a business, worked for Bellingham Sash & Door and also for Cloverleaf Realty. He had experience as a farm laborer and crew supervisor. 
 
He is a Graduate of Distinction from Nooksack Valley High School and received his industrial technology degree from Western Washington University. He was an admissions liaison officer for the U.S. Air Force Academy.
 
He was an assistant scoutmaster and counselor with Boy Scouts of America and served on a levy committee for the Mt. Baker School District. He has not held elective office before.