Thursday, September 26, 2019

Public Hearings

There are a number of occasions where part of the Council decision-making process includes conducting a public hearing.  This is an opportunity for members of the public to share thoughts, concerns, support, or questions about a particular question placed in front of the Council.  The Council listens to the comments from the public and can use that information to inform their decisions, or at least that's the idea.

In practice, however, public hearings often boil down to theatrics.  Public hearings are routinely held immediately before the Council is asked to make a decision on a matter.  This provides little time for deliberation or follow-up on public input by members of the Council, City staff, and other members of the public.  The Council can agree by a majority vote to postpone a decision, but that means deviating from the default procedure.  

When I am elected to the Ferndale City Council, I will propose and advocate for changes to this standard operating procedure.  All members of the public should be provided an opportunity to share their comments, and the Council should be provided an opportunity to properly consider those comments when making these important decisions.  I will propose that standard operating procedures be updated to allow for public hearings to remain open for written comment for a minimum of 24 hours following the in-person hearing and that at least a week is provided to Council for deliberation following the hearing, with a vote routinely scheduled for the next regularly scheduled City Council meeting.  Of course, in specific situations, the majority of Council could vote to modify these rules in cases of emergency or other urgent need, however, it would reset the default procedure to not only allow, but encourage public engagement in determining how the City of Ferndale will approach decisions that ultimately affect all of us.  

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Community Energy Challenge

This evening I attended the Energy Efficiency and Home Improvement Fair hosted by Community Energy Challenge, Sustainable Connections, and the City of Bellingham. I met some great people who are working to make energy-efficient home improvements accessible and achievable.  Wouldn't it be great if we could bring more from the Community Energy Challenge to Ferndale?  Find out more about the Community Energy Challenge at

Sunday, September 15, 2019

What does City Council do anyway?

Have you ever wondered what it is that our City Council does? According to the Ferndale City Website, "The Ferndale City Council is the legislative and policy-making body of city government. Council members are responsible for passing laws through ordinance and policies through resolutions, and approve the annual budget initially proposed by the mayor."

The Ferndale City Council is tasked with evaluating a broad range of issues that affect everyone who lives, works, or does business here.  It is important for our City Council members to be informed on a broad range of topics and be thoughtful, involved, and independent.  Council members need to be able to consider multiple perspectives when making decisions, remain open-minded about creative approaches to solving problems,  and make sure that the best interests of the City and its residents are at the heart of the decision-making process.  

I have been regularly attending Council meetings and reviewing meeting packets since the beginning of 2019.  I have also attended all of the 2019 financial workshops in preparation for the 2020 budget.  This means I will be in a position to start serving our city on day one!  The decisions made by the Council now will affect our community for years to come.  Helping make these decisions is a responsibility that I take seriously.  

An actual application I assembled!
(yes, this is just one)
My professional background as a paralegal and office manager provides me with the tools and skills necessary for understanding proposals on a wide range of issues and making legislative and policy decisions, all while welcoming input and constructive feedback from Ferndale residents.  I spent several years of my career reviewing financial records and business plans for immigrant investment projects.  I am no stranger to sifting through piles of paperwork.

As in my volunteer work in Ferndale, my motivations for decision making are based on the wellbeing and success of our community.  Through my work with the School Bond Task Force, Support Ferndale Schools Committee, Ferndale Auxiliary Communications Service, Whatcom CERT, and others, I have had the opportunity to hone my problem-solving and consensus-developing skills here in our community.  I am willing to ask tough questions and work with and for the residents of Ferndale toward reasonable, well-balanced solutions and growth that works for our residents.  

This is why I'm running for City Council and I believe I am the best candidate for this position.  I would be honored to have your support on November 5th!

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Water proposals

Water availability and affordability in our community are some of the most important issues faced in Ferndale at the moment. Addressing these issues will require a thoughtful, collaborative approach that prioritizes the needs of our current residents. I have been asked several times to respond to my opponent's recent water proposals. In short, I believe his proposals highlight the differences in our priorities.

While I do not know my opponent in this race personally, Mr. Llanos seems like a friendly and intelligent man. However, he has made it clear through the information he has put forward through his campaign that his priorities lie with developers over the wellbeing of the greater community.

My opponent's proposals on water conservation speak quite plainly to this. The proposals he has put forward are extremely costly and largely unachievable in our community that is already feeling the financial strain of a long poorly-managed, deteriorating infrastructure. His proposals primarily focus on implementing more financial incentives for builders and developers.  The majority of his water proposals are expensive band-aids that do not work to broaden the conversation that must be had between the City of Ferndale, the other cities in Whatcom County, and ultimately, with the County as a whole about how we will all manage this critical resource together. 

It is time for all the municipalities in Whatcom County to begin working cooperatively to find ways to manage our water supply together. It makes no sense to have one city struggling to ensure all its residents are able to access clean potable water, while the next city over has more than they know what to do with. We need a County-wide effort to address current and future issues with our water supply. 

In the meantime, we need to focus efforts on achievable water conservation goals. This means not only making water-efficient fixtures and appliances available and affordable for current residents, but also encouraging and promoting the use of rain barrels and native plant species for residential lawns and gardens. These small measures will have a measurable effect in reducing strain on Ferndale's water, sewer, and stormwater systems, at the same time that they lower residents' water use bills. 

As a legal professional, I take issues of ethics seriously and remain unconvinced that my opponent is presently in a position to adequately represent our community. While he does have experience as a licensed engineer, if elected to the Council in Ferndale, his ongoing business as a developer would present repeated conflicts of interest that would necessitate his recusal on many of the important decisions placed in front of Council.

Throughout the remainder of this campaign, and beyond, I will continue to work for the betterment of my community through my ongoing volunteer service in Ferndale. I hope to have the privilege of serving on our City Council and working together with community members, City staff, and elected officials at local, county, and state levels to achieve great outcomes for our community!

Meet Maralise