An open letter from “Whatcom Voice” to the Whatcom County Council.
Dear Whatcom County Council Member,
As you probably already know a conflict of interest is a situation in which an individual has competing interests or loyalties…with a public official whose personal interests conflict with his/her professional position. The circumstance of a public officeholder, business executive, or the like, whose personal interests might benefit from his or her official actions or influence.
An apparent conflict of interest is one in which a reasonable person would think that the professional s judgment is likely to be compromised. A potential conflict of interest involves a situation that may develop into an actual conflict of interest.
Timothy Ballew II is the leading candidate (5 votes out of 6) to be appointed by the Whatcom Council to fill the vacant at-large Council position. He was the former Lummi Business Council Chair for the past five years. I understand he is a proud member (and rightly so) of the Lummi Nation.
Many of the Whatcom County Council actions involves the competing interest with the Lummi Nation. Potential water policy, law enforcement, county jail, taxation, Cherry Point and other land use policy to name a few.
Question- for the five Council members making the appointment to the County Council At-Large position, that represents all the citizens of Whatcom County, if appointed will Mr. Ballew II be willing to recuse himself from voting or participating in Council matters when there is a clear conflict or even an appearance of a conflict of interest involving competing interest with the Lummi Nation?
Question- has nominee Timothy Ballew II been advised, by the Council’s attorney, of the
potential for, and under what circumstances, that he, if appointed, may need to recuse himself from issues involving the Lummi Nation?
Would it not be prudent for the Council to know the answers to these questions for all seven of the potential nominees before they vote to appoint the new at-large council member Tuesday night January 16, 2018.
Just asking the question, as a past member of the City of Bellingham Council, who had to address the same potential conflicts of interest polices as a professional business owner, professional land surveyor and land use consultant.
Bruce Ayers, WhatcomVoice
Here’s more information on the nominee’s
The eight chosen to move forward are:
1) Timothy Ballew Former Lummi Business Council Chair (5 votes)
Timothy Ballew WILL run in November for the seat… He has clearly made his priority tribal interest over the years.
2) Natalie McClendon Ran in 42nd District Leg as Democrat (5 votes)
3). Seth Fleetwood Ran for 42nd District Leg as Democrat (5 Votes)
4.) Patricia Dunn Transportation Consultant (2 Votes)
5) Alicia Rule, Social Worker and At-large Position to Blaine City Council, (2 Votes)
6) Cliff Langley, 2015 Charter Review member lives in Dist 3 (2 Votes)
Click on the person above for more information on them or For a closer look at each candidate you can find their applications here.
In some ways, all elected people have conflict of interest. When one chooses a party to be affiliated with, it becomes a conflict of interest. Some at highest levels of our government didnt think they have to recuse from their business endeavors as in their mind there is no conflict of interest. A lot of congressional members and public support that view.
I see no more conflict with Mr. Ballew than with a person from Lynden or Bellingham who had formerly served in an official capacity. In the definition above, I think that the key word is ‘personal’. Council members are pledged to serve al of the citizens of Whatcom County. That would include the citizens who are members of Lummi Nation.
Any one of us has many different loyalties and responsibilities: property tax, school district, profession, religion (or not), generation, birthplace. All of these affect we are, where we stand and therefore what we see. We do all have to live up to the treaty rights given over 150 years ago.
Mr. Ballew no longer is an office holder at Lummi. I think his voice and dignity would be a great addition to the Council..
As we have seen at the national level, previously held positions may give an individual perks, interests, benefits or obligations to that position and organization long after that individual leaves the position. There is no reason to believe that people who hold office or campaign for office at the national level are somehow fundamentally different in their nature than those who serve local institutions, so the same concerns apply. I don’t know enough about Mr. Ballew to conclude anything about his loyalties, but the questions are well worth asking, and all the council needs to know the answers.