Bellingham Mayor Seth Fleetwood today formally announced his re-election campaign, after being the first to file yesterday – the first day of filing week – at the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office (see photo attached). Fleetwood highlights his thoughtful, collaborative approach to governing, his extensive experience and accomplishments, and his leadership during the pandemic as key qualities that commend him to re-election as Mayor.
“I am ready and enthusiastic to continue this work,” he said. “It has been my honor and privilege to serve you during these recent challenging years. During this time, we have withstood a life-altering pandemic that only intensified an array of social problems in our community. Throughout, I worked with my staff, partners and community members in the critically important and disciplined work of advancing policy solutions that address problems.”
Fleetwood took office for his first term as Mayor just over two months before the pandemic required him to take emergency actions affecting government services and community activities. He served as an incident commander and regional leader in addressing the pandemic, taking bold, collaborative, health-centered actions that prioritized health and safety and directed resources first to supporting businesses and assisting vulnerable populations. Fleetwood led City government through many pandemic phases, including emergency closures, providing extensive services via remote technologies, partially then fully resuming in-person services, while centering employee and community health and well-being.
“I led the City through one of the most difficult challenges in modern times while prioritizing actions on affordable housing, climate change, behavioral health, alternative response systems, public safety and health, race and justice issues and other necessary initiatives that are sorely needed and requested by the Bellingham community,” he said.
Fleetwood said serving a term as Mayor, coupled with his years serving on the Bellingham City Council and Whatcom County Council, make him the most experienced candidate.
“During my tenure as Mayor, and as a member of both the Whatcom County Council and Bellingham City Council, I have established critical relationships and gained invaluable experience and insights into the priorities and operations of City government that deliver essential public services to the people of Bellingham,” he said.
In addition to leading the City through the pandemic, Fleetwood points to a long list of City accomplishments during his tenure as Mayor, including:
- Assembling a strong and capable leadership team, filling these key City positions: Police Chief, Fire Chief, Public Works Director, Planning and Community Development Director, Parks & Recreation Director, City Attorney, Information Technology Services Director, Human Resources Director, Communications Director.
- Initiating a review of wastewater treatment options, successfully recommending that the Council change course on previous decisions regarding upgrades to the Post Point treatment plant once those options were determined to be cost-prohibitive and imprudent for other reasons.
- Making strategic property purchases, including property to help protect the Post Point heron colony, a 29-acre property in the Bakerview/Telegraph corridor, 20 acres of forested wetlands located between Northwest Drive and Aldrich Road, and numerous other Greenways and Lake Whatcom Watershed purchases.
- Successfully negotiating the donation of Lehigh pier at Little Squalicum Park, an incredible waterfront asset intended for future public use.
- Establishing a new Greenways Strategic Plan to guide future parks, trails and open space purchases and development, as well as a plan to guide the future of the 100-Acre Woods.
- Remodeling the Central Library downtown, establishing a new branch library on the northside, and building the new, 100-percent electric Pacific Street Operations Center.
- Establishing, with the Chuckanut Health Foundation, Whatcom County and representing hundreds of community voices, the Whatcom Racial Equity Commission, after hosting the City’s first-ever Listening Series on Race and Justice.
- Establishing an executive-level Office of Climate and continuing progress on actions outlined in the City’s Climate Action Plan.
- Enabling new approaches to addressing public safety staffing shortages, including retention bonuses, changes to education requirements, and creative recruiting tactics.
- Initiating new strategies to foster a safe, welcoming environment in Bellingham’s downtown with more than one million dollars in City investments directed toward downtown in 2022 and 2023, identified collaboratively with the downtown business community and other stakeholders.
- Maintaining and expanding shelter options that are healthy, safe, and offer services to help people transition into permanent housing, including the addition of two new tiny house villages.
“The work we do is in service to the future we need, and toward that end my administration has been responsive to and prioritized action on our City’s most important issues while making steady and demonstrable progress. I have assembled a strong and capable leadership team to lead Bellingham into the hopeful future that we need and deserve – a future in which we all work together to do the important, inspiring work of building a sustainable, equitable and thriving city.”