Common Threads Northwest spoke with Mile Cox, who is running for Ferndale City Council Pos. 1

CTNW: Why are you running for election and why do you believe that you are qualified for the position?

Mike Cox: I'm running for election because I want to get more involved in the city. I recently retired after 23-years with the United States Border Patrol and I've been a frustrated citizen for a while with the traffic and water issues in Ferndale. I'm getting ready to open a small business in Ferndale and want to look behind the curtain at the process the city has in place.  If there's anything I can do to make it better, easier, or more efficient, then that's what I'm going to do. And it starts with throwing my name in the hat.

CTNW: And you believe you are qualified because...?

Mike: I'm qualified because I have experience in government. Through my old job, I was president of the Border Patrol local union.  I have worked with Congress on crafting laws governing the Border Patrol. I was also the Secretary/Treasurer of the Union where I wrote budgets and managed funds.

CTNW: What do you believe is Ferndale's biggest financial challenge, and how should it be addressed?

Mike: Well, it's going to have to be infrastructure. Seemingly there's all this growth, and yet the growth's not paying for the infrastructure improvements. We need to find a way to get the infrastructure down before we have this growth. I come from a big city where I have seen the city build the infrastructure before development started.  It makes sense, yet it seems like we are always playing catch-up in Ferndale.

CTNW: How best can Ferndale build its tax base to pay for the infrastructure?

Mike: The best way to build the tax base would be through more businesses coming in and providing services this city needs and wants.  Starting my own business now, I have learned it is a huge investment.  I am confident, as most business start-ups are, that we will be successful, and the city will profit from our success.  That's going to be the primary source; to build our tax base without simply building more and more.

CTNW: What do you believe Ferndale is spending too much on or not enough on? Time and money on?

Mike: It's hard to say because I don't think we have the money to address all the needs that we have. I wish we had more money on parks and recreation. I think we need an aquatic center—that's my primary wish for Ferndale. We'd serve a lot of Whatcom County which could bring revenue without residents.  That'll be something that I will push for. But to find a way to pay for this stuff, it's going to be a challenge.

CTNW: How do you believe Ferndale is doing with the balance of infrastructure improvements and controlling borrowing costs?

Mike: They’re doing the best they can. I haven't looked at the City’s balance sheet yet, but the projects that are most important, the Thornton [Road] overpass, are being pushed through and is at the top of the list which is where it needs to be.

CTNW: Homelessness is big on national and local topic. How can Ferndale help address homelessness and poverty?

Mike: Well homelessness, I believe, is a direct result of drug addiction. In fact, I saw someone on the street corner by Haggen begging for money.  That is the first time I can recall seeing this in Ferndale.  We should have a ZERO tolerance policy for this behavior.  Supporting street beggars hurts them and destroys communities.  Look no farther than Bellingham.  I'm a big believer in the Lighthouse Mission.  They help those ready to change their own lives.  If we're talking about homeless families or children due to economic or tragic reasons, then there are great programs out there that citizens and governments already fund and should continue to do so as we are able to.

CTNW: How can Ferndale strengthen their neighborhoods and sense of community?

Mike: That's a great question, because we live in a neighborhood and it just doesn't [have] that big community feeling. I can't say that Ferndale has that kind of power. [What] I mean [is] that's an individual thing. That's just the way people are nowadays. [They] live their life on their phone, not talking to their neighbors. I see good community policing and people getting involved with the city, they're trying, Ferndale is trying. [They’re] doing a good job. The city puts together family events at parks on the weekends. [This] is very promising.  Our Parks and Rec are doing a fantastic job. That builds a strong city community.  However, our neighborhoods are a different challenge

CTNW: The City of Bellingham will consider a recommendation by the Climate Action Committee to create an ordinance that the city would have all new housing and buildings fossil free. And they are currently, through the Climate Action Committee, considering that same mandate to buyers of existing buildings and homes, to be retrofit to power from fossil fuels at the time they are sold. So, what does that mean to you? How realistic is their timeline for accomplishing that? And what do you believe that's going to cost the residents here?

Mike: I completely disagree with it. I disagree with the government getting involved in people's lives and property.  If it makes sense, it will happen naturally.  I cannot foresee anything like that happening in Ferndale.

CTNW: Do you think it will affect Ferndale?

Mike: I think it will drive good people from Bellingham here. It'll affect Ferndale in a positive way. People would like to live in a place with less government and more freedom.  We do a great job of protecting our streams, our rivers, our streets. The Northwest is not the problem.  To the best of my knowledge, we use hydroelectric power which would be a hard [to believe that there’s a] process to do better [than that].

CTNW: How can Ferndale help to create more opportunity for young adults? By young adults I mean high school graduates, technical school graduates, Whatcom Community [College], the universities. So those kids that are here and graduate can stay here, or those that do come here are able to stay here.

Mike: Well it's all about creating jobs and things for them to do. Ferndale's a pretty industrial location. We have a lot of companies I never knew were here. As long as those companies do well then, they're always going to be hiring. If there are shortages in the labor market, wages and opportunities will rise.  There should be great opportunities for young people in Ferndale.

CTNW: But there's nothing specific that Ferndale could do to help create more of that?

Mike: No, it's a private industry issue.

CTNW: What do you believe is Ferndale's biggest economic development opportunity?

Mike: I'd have to say it's industrial. It would be in industrial building in the places designated for it. We're located in a perfect position off I-5. Bellingham's built out, and things are coming out this way. Our best opportunity is to bring in manufacturing to our industrial parks, which will then spawn off into more residential and small business building.

CTNW: What basic services in Ferndale need improvement? Basic services meaning transportation, water, utilities, safety, etcetera?

Mike: The big issue we've seen is the water issue. We have a bi-monthly $300 water bill. It just seems outrageous to me. I get rained on 200 days a year here, and I just have a hard time every time I open that water bill, and I think something can be done to help the situation.

CTNW: But as far as basic services that need improvement, do you believe that the water needs improvement, or what do you mean by that?

Mike: I know we went from river to aquifer.  That doesn’t make sense to me, though I am no expert on the subject yet.  There must be a way to bring back one to supplement the other. It just seems outrageous in my opinion, the money we pay for water.

CTNW: So that would be a priority for you?

Mike: Yes.

CTNW: What can Ferndale do to improve the city's environment and parks?

Mike: You know, that's where—you talk about community getting involved—I would love to see our community come together and take care of the parks. Because [they create] a lot of [the local] aesthetics. That's something that Parks and Rec could maybe stir up, get communities fired up about that. We need good community parks, a civic center, and an aquatic center—you can build a city around something like that. People will say: "I want to live there because they have that great aquatic center."

CTNW: What style of leadership will you bring to the Ferndale City Council and what style do you think it needs?

Mike: I believe it needs a voice from the local businessman, the parent of school age kids, and the retiree looking for local entertainment.  I bring the perspective of all those people.

CTNW: So, that would be your leadership style, in sharing your experience?

Mike: Sure.

CTNW: So, the last question is that: Governor Inslee recently declared the State of Washington to be a "sanctuary state." What does that mean to you, whether you agree or disagree with it, and our local compliance on this issue?

Mike: Ferndale will never take such a position.  Knowing the community as I do, I can never imagine us having a mayor or police chief that would become anarchist-because that is what these cities are.  I've been in the criminal illegal alien business for 23-years. I've personally arrested violent criminals, in Ferndale, jailed them, and later deported them. We need to use the federal resources here to take care of the crime that's committed by illegal aliens. We need to use those resources to help us as a city to not bear the cost of it.  I [believe that is] the benefit of having all these federal agencies up here: you know, they pay for half of our law enforcement. But for us to ignore them and wish they wouldn't exist, it's ridiculous. It's just a political position that I think uninformed people are taking to make themselves feel good.

CTNW: That is the last question, so what would you like to tell us that you wished that we'd have asked you about?

Mike: I guess my community involvement.  I have coached youth sports for about ten years and now am a referee for school sports.  This keeps me connected to the families in Ferndale and is my favorite pastime of all.

You can find out more about Mike Cox at this website link: Michael Cox - Ferndale City Council, Pos. 1