Represents: 6th Ward
Term: Jan 2018 – Dec 2021
First elected to the Bellingham City Council in 2009, Michael currently chairs Public Works & Natural Resources Committee, which handles major transportation and public utility projects, as well as matters concerning the health of our local waters and natural resources. His current assignments also include the Planning & Community Development Committee and the Parks & Recreation Committee. Michael was appointed by his peers to serve as President of the Council in 2017.
Michael also represents the City of Bellingham on the governing boards of Whatcom Transportation Authority (public transit), the Whatcom Council of Governments (regional transportation planning), and the County’s Homeless Strategies Work Group.
Among Michael’s many community activities, he has served in an ex-officio capacity on the boards of several organizations including the Mt. Baker Theatre, Downtown Bellingham Partnership, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Sustainable Connections, and the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce. With an educational background in scientific research, psychology, and work experience as a paralegal, Michael brings his personal experience as an active citizen and from years of volunteer and community work in our public schools, youth programs, local non-profit organizations, and from service on city boards and commissions prior to his election to office.
He was first drawn to local government by the challenge we face to preserve our quality of life by balancing our man-made and natural environments in a way that works in the long run. Sprawl has threatened our rural areas, while mismanaged growth can have equally bad impacts on living with city limits. Protecting and restoring the Lake Whatcom reservoir is a prime example where our streets and houses threaten the quality of our drinking water and the health of the lake.
Based in part on surveys of local residents’ concerns and on his own personal values, Michael’s top priorities for the year are 1) improving housing availability and affordability, and related issues with regard to homelessness, and 2) identifying appropriate responses to climate change caused by greenhouse gas pollution. Evidence and study results show that stagnant wages and growing income inequality are national problems, and they exacerbate local housing cost burdens. Nearly 1 in three local households are struggling to pay for housing, despite modest incomes and decent jobs. Michael’s other priorities include long-range fiscal planning, budget transparency, tax equity, and carefully planned growth within the Downtown, the Waterfront district, and urban centers in a way that respects local character and avoids sprawling development.
He sees the city government as a key player in promoting local prosperity, through cooperative activities as well as by maintaining a focus on quality government services that enhance Bellingham’s livability.
A fifth generation Washingtonian and recent empty-nester, Michael enjoys getting out into nature with his hiking buddies and fixing things.
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