Dan Pike caught the political bug early. At age five he was on an elevated platform above Broadway in New York City, being taken to the bathroom, when John F. Kennedy waved up to him from a black limousine during a parade.
Dan later managed a mock campaign for Robert F. Kennedy in school, attended a 1982 state Democratic convention as a community-college student, and persuaded the Bellingham School District to revamp its busing schedule when his own child entered kindergarten. He pointed out that the schools were providing a massive subsidy of free parking for high school students, while pleading poverty for bus service for the kids starting school. “One of my pet peeves was people who complain but don’t do anything,” the Huxley planning grad said. Pike does something.
So it was unsurprising when Dan went from lobbying government to running it, beating the odds by being elected Bellingham’s mayor in 2007 after a door-to-door campaign.
He has since pushed through a small tax increase to fund transit, is forging a new partnership with the Port of Bellingham to redevelop the city’s Georgia-Pacific waterfront site, and thinks sustainability could become a Bellingham selling point to new businesses.
“Huxley matched my core values,” the mayor said. He’d been studying the environment since attending an environmental field camp with his fourth-grade class in New Jersey, and a Huxley political science course was one of the classes that stoked his passion.
Since his election, Pike has displayed a consistent interest in Huxley’s future.
The mayor is also working to restore the Lake Whatcom watershed by trying to cut phosphorus levels in the water by 90 percent.
Dan moved to Oregon after high school because of the Northwest’s beauty and climbing opportunities, earning an associate’s degree at Wenatchee Valley College. Study at Western Washington University followed from 1982 to 1984. He returned in 1992, choosing Huxley as the place to pursue a degree in urban and regional planning.
Like many Huxley graduates, he worked initially – first for the city of Everson, and then as an intern with the Washington Department of Transportation – before deciding to expand his potential by pursuing a graduate degree.
He entered Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and earned a master’s in public administration. Dan returned to state government to manage the Freight Action Strategy Corridor Project, a $500 million series of improvements to speed commercial traffic between Everett and Tacoma. He worked with twenty-two regional partners.
He also worked for a decade as a fisherman and dock manager, giving him rapport with people who work with their hands.
“I kind of view my work as the water against the rock,” Pike said. “A lot of times people think I’m fighting something I can’t win, but water wins in the end. You push softly but you push persistently.” His transit initiative required four 4-3, hard-won victorious votes from the city council. “You get where you need to go.”