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Bellingham
Thursday, May 28, 2020

Western students gather for lobby day at city hall

By Maddie Smith

Western students gathered in teams to lobby before council members at City Hall on May 3.  

Anna Kemper, Associated Students local liaison, organized Local Lobby Day with hopes to have students inform council members about issues that students face.

The AS local lobby agenda included issues such as housing affordability, equity and inclusiveness, public safety, criminal justice, voting accessibility and environmental stewardship.  

Student volunteers gathered in teams to meet with City Council members in the chambers to advocate for the AS agenda.

Two student volunteers, sophomore Brandon Lane and junior Cora Cole, were part of the group who discussed housing, criminal justice reform, and equity and inclusion with elected officials, Lane said.

One of the goals for local lobby day was to ask council members how they are going to vote in the upcoming City Council meeting on the ordinance surrounding policy for the citywide use of detached accessory dwelling units, Kemper said.  

The AS agenda on housing differed from the thoughts of City Council member Terry Bornemann, the students said.  The students were lobbying for the approval of DADUs citywide, which are small units on the properties detached from the main house, a policy Bornemann strongly opposed, they said.  

Although he disagreed with them, Lane and Cole felt that Bornemann was respectful in expressing his opinion on DADUs.  

“He wasn’t wishy-washy with anything, which I really appreciated,” Lane said.

City Council members will vote on the DADU ordinance at the City Council meeting on Monday, May 7, Cole said.  

One of the main differences between local lobby day and state lobby day in Olympia is the amount of time that students get to talk with elected officials, Kemper said.  Meetings during state lobby day are only about 15 minutes long, while meetings at local lobby day can last up to an hour, she said.

This extra time allows for lobbyists to have deeper discussions about issues.  

“We go for depth rather than breadth,” Cole said.

Kemper said students can get involved with local decision-making by going to City Council and County Council meetings, or even watching them on YouTube.

“A lot of change can be made in policy, especially at the local level, that people don’t realize,” she said.  

Kemper will also be hosting a solutions-based panel about housing on May 23rd at 5 p.m. in Academic West 210.

 

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