Hello Loyal Readers,

Time for another Friday Odds and Ends, all the news that is fit to print, but not big enough to justify its own post. No time to waste, let’s dive right in!

Bertha

Bertha

Sen. Doug Ericksen, flush from his victory over Seth Fleetwood, proposed a rather odd piece of legislation. He, along with Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-Spokane), proposed killing Bertha. What is Bertha? The giant drill that was burrowing a tunnel to replace the Seattle Viaduct. Currently, it is stuck and Seattle has been working to unstick it for the last couple of months. So Ericksen and Baumgartner decided to swoop in and propose burying it where it lies and abandoning the project.

Why would Ericksen want to meddle with a project in Seattle? It is a huge infrastructure investment in the same community that sent several thousand dollars to fund Seth Fleetwood. What better way to showcase his disdain than shutting down their project.

So what’s Baumgartner’s excuse? He’s running for state-wide office in 2016 and will need a higher profile – what better way to endear himself to the rest of the state than thumbing his nose at Seattle. The Governor’s office has already gone on record opposing the bill and the Republican head of the transportation committee has indicated he does not support it.

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

Meanwhile, Mayor Kelli Linville has proposed a rather controversial ordinance that would grant the Police wide authority to ticket or arrest anyone who is sitting or lying down on our sidewalks in the downtown and Fairhaven areas of our city. Naturally, this drew some outrage from civil libertarians, poverty advocates and people who are waiting for the bus and want to sit down. Definitely a far cry from Linville’s original support of the Occupy Bellingham.

The text of the ordinance focuses on pedestrian safety (tripping over people sitting on the sidewalk), but it is pretty clear that this is aimed squarely at the addressing the appearance of homelessness in our community. Definitely a far cry from Linville’s original support of the Occupy Bellingham movement. Expect this issue to grow as it makes its way through the council and into election season.

Finally, a quick clarification from a previous article about Sam Crawford’s retirement. In describing the 2009 appointment saga with Ward Nelson, Pete Kremen, Sam Crawford and Rud Browne, I wrote a rather clumsy sentence that implied that Rud Browne proposed an ordinance to acquit Nelson after the fact . Browne was on the ethics committee that acquitted Nelson but it was Crawford who proposed the ordinance to legitimize the entire scuzzy business. Sorry for the confusion. You can get all the details here.

That’s all for now. I had an article about Rep. Vincent Buys (R-Lynden) legislative proposals but it got delayed because I’m confirming a few policy details. Should go live tomorrow.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 29, 2015

Sidhu and Kershner to Apply for Crawford’s Seat

I was all geared up to write an article about Kathy Kershner and Satpal Sidhu’s applications to the County Council, and Ralph Schwartz with the Bellingham Herald beat me to it. Bravo, Ralph! So first go read that, and then consider this a supplemental for all those interested in the insider baseball of this situation.

Make no mistake, the decision will come down to Kershner and Sidhu. There will be a few more that throw their hat in the ring but at the end of the day, these are the heavy weights.

Kershner brings four years of experience on the council but was rejected by the voters in 2013. Central to that election were some pretty brutal votes she cast her first year. She was elected in part by the Tea Party and her early votes to slash domestic violence prevention and funding for the food bank came back to haunt her.

Sidhu brings an impressive resume (Dean of Bellingham Technical College, business owner (The Spice Hut) and investor, Electrical Engineer) and his conservative Democratic perspective served him well in his run in the 42nd legislative district against Van Werven where he outpaced the other two Democrats last year but he did not prevail.

To get the nomination, each candidate has to get four votes or three votes and Jack Louws’ blessing. Here’s why each one may get the nod:

Kathy Kershner and bird

Kathy Kershner and bird

Kathy Kershner will get the seat because . . . Pete Kremen likes her. The Almighty Mustache endorsed her in 2013 over the Democrat in that race (Barry Buchanan) and has been a consistent supporter.

Kershner also has a close working relationship with Ken Mann – when she sat on the council, she was frequently able to pull him over for votes.However, the ugly county council election in 2013 put them in opposite tribes which may have cooled their relationship.

If Kershner manages to pull Mann, Kremen and Brenner, they will deadlock the council which will allow Jack Louws to appoint Kershner.

Satpal Sidhu

Satpal Sidhu

Satpal Sidhu will get the seat because . . . the council is facing some large infrastructure and economic development projects (The New Jail, the Slater Road development, etc) and his engineering experience could be a vital to providing meaningful oversight.

Furthermore, Sidhu would be a big step forward in terms of diversity for a community that has had a difficult and racist history towards the Sikhs. With Rud Browne looking for another business-minded thinker on the council and Barry Buchanan looking to block his former opponent from sitting next to him on the council, it may be a simple manner to convince Carl Weimer and Ken Mann to support Sidhu.

Is it in the bag for one candidate or the other? Of course not. The council will deliberate and take their time. No matter how the appointment turns out, I imagine the final struggle will be at the ballot box this year since whoever gets appointed would immediately have to run for election.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 28, 2015

BREAKING: Sam Crawford to Resign from County Council on March 1st

Long-time conservative county councilman Sam Crawford submitted a letter of resignation last night saying that he will resign March 1st. In the letter, he explains, “due to an unanticipated retirement of a co-worker at my workplace (Westside Building Supply in Lynden), my plans have been altered significantly by the opportunities and needs of the business that exist at this time.”

Sam Crawford

Sam Crawford

Crawford has been chased by ethical complaints for several years now, much of it stemming from his work with developers creating a conflict of interest as a councilman. He has tried to explain away the issues (see here and here) but his last election was a nailbiter, with Christina Maginnis almost unseating the long-time incumbent.

This year, it was rumored that local businessman and former candidate Satpal Sidhu was considering a run for the seat. Crawford, having just watched another popular Democratic businessman steamroll his seatmate (Rud Browne versus Bill Knutzen), Crawford may have just decided to take the path of least resistance.

The vacancy will be filled by the County Council, unless they are deadlocked (3-3) and in that case it falls to the County Executive to decide. Last time this happened, it set off a huge ethical complaint when outgoing council member Ward Nelson stonewalled all the potential nominees for the vacancy created by Bob Kelly’s resignation.

Crawford's sparked some controversy

Crawford’s sparked some controversy

He then persuaded then county executive Pete Kremen to appoint Ward Nelson to fill out the remainder of the term. Unethical? Sure looked that way but the Whatcom Ethics Commission took a look at it and decided to clear Ward Nelson of any wrongdoing.

Who was sitting on the Ethics commission at that time? Future councilmember Rud Browne. Sam Crawford then tried to cover the council’s tracks by pushing for an ordinance that would legitimize Nelson’s stonewalling after the fact. Now, Kremen, Crawford and Browne are all on the council having to decide what to do about Crawford’s replacement. We call this situation . . . living in a small town.

Crawford also generated some friction among his own tribe when he was a vocal supporter of the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance. Many speculated that this was part of the Kremen/Nelson deal, that Crawford’s support for this was key but Crawford insisted that the reconveyance was simply, “a good deal”. It passed 5-2. The other conservative that supported the reconveyance, Kathy Kershner, had difficulty fundraising from her usual supporters in 2013 right after that vote.

UPDATE: Ironically enough, Kathy Kershner is considering running for the seat. She recently relocated to Lynden (the 2nd district) and told Council Chair Carl Weimer that she is interested in applying/running.

Back to the story at hand, most likely councilmembers will ask for a placeholder. Which means we have yet another series of applicants.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 25, 2015

Interviewing with Gary Jensen for Port Commissioner

If you stuck a pin in Whatcom County and balanced it on its political center, you would probably be poking somewhere near “Gary Jensen”. The two-term, outgoing mayor of Ferndale has cut a quite a square of political turf for himself in this county. The former plumber turned politician identifies as a Democrat, endorses local Republicans and federal Democrats, was heavily recruited to run against Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-Free Lunch) and now is running for Port Commissioner. Oh, and he brought a chart to the interview.

Mayor Gary Jensen

Mayor Gary Jensen

“This shows our solid waste in Ferndale for 2014,” he says, showing me a downward sloping line graph. “It’s good, people are throwing out less stuff.” Small changes that add up to a bigger impact is a key part of how he sees the role of government.

“So many of the decisions that I make on the local level aren’t partisan. I’ve raised taxes and spent money. Yeah, I’m guilty of that. But I’ve built a police station and a library. So some of the stuff we do is pretty cool.”

After eight years as Mayor, why the shift to Port Commission? “If you look at indirect jobs, they touch more jobs than anybody In Whatcom county and I’m not done wanting to serve.” He sees the Port as a avenue for tackling depressed wages and income inequality. “We have to improve income inequality – one way is a good wage and the port has a lot of jobs that do pay well.”

The opportunity to develop the waterfront and create something lasting also appeals to Jensen. “You look there,” He points towards the Bay. “Some day we are going to look at what’s happening a few blocks from here and your kids are going to say – hey that’s a pretty good thing. There’s a proverb, ‘A wise man who plants a tree whose shade he will never enjoy.’ I like that.”

He notes that family considerations played a part in his decision. “It is my own fault for creating a 60 hr per week job (as mayor). I didn’t want to say no to people. I think I’ve attend more meetings than the other mayors do put together.” He smiles, “But I promised my wife to cook dinner for her once and a while, the port isn’t as much time, there are not as many meetings.”

Rojcza House

Rojcza House

On a scale of one to ridiculous, how ugly is that giant house? Jensen cracks a big laugh. “I actually think it’s kindof cool. My problem is, would you just finish it?”

The house (pictured left) aside from being quite eye-catching in the middle of Ferndale, has been the subject of a bureaucratic tug-a-war between the property owner Artur Rojsza and the mayor’s office with the fines, mediation and threats of lawsuits flying back and forth.

“(Rojcza) will spend 20 minutes describing this brick. He wasn’t making it up, he was ‘feeling the vibration of the worker’. That’s great, but can you use the bricks to finish the house? But then he puts a flag and a cross on the pile of bricks and boom, its a 9/11 memorial. Who would of thought of that?” He gives a grudging smile. “He’s kind of brilliant.”

On to more serious topics, Jensen has been a vocal proponent of the Gateway Pacific Terminal project, is this run for Port a secret, backdoor attempt to install the project? He says that final project may not be as bad as people think. “I didn’t believe they are going to ship coal. Really, you think that Coal is a viable product? By the time the permit is going to go through – people smarter and bigger than you and I are jumping off that product. Even China is realizing they have to burn less. The problem in this community – oh you are a proponent of coal and that’s terrible. No one wants to burn coal! Burning coal is not a good deal!”

Jensen Endorses GPT

Jensen Endorses GPT

But back to the proposal at hand, “Where do (GPT) make the decision that this isn’t a viable proposition. I think that this election will come and go and that project will still be out there. It is zoned for that, people have a right to turn in a permit.” He says that the mitigation might be prohibitively expensive for the project. “If they say you can’t release a speck of dust, there’s no way you can’t do that.”

He says that the future of Cherry Point will be decided down the line. “Your generation is going to have a conversation about what we do at Cherry Point. Some people don’t want it zoned for industrial, some people do.”

He says this constant battle is wearing everyone down. “If we can ever calculate how much money has been spent on either side, on t-shirts alone, do we really want to go through that? Do we want zero things there, or do we need to rezone it?”

Considering the multi-million dollar battle played out in the 42nd district last year and the bloody County Council fight in 2013, I can see where he is coming from. Jensen notes the history of the location.

“It was a marina a long time ago. We used to camping there as a kid, it was a place where you could go crabbing for free. Hopefully we can sit down and have a conversation about where do we want to do there.”

One of the central conflicts for the Port right now is airplane noise. The Port oversees the airport which has expanded their flights in the last ten years thanks to booming Canadian traffic. As a result, some of the locals have complained.

Jensen says on this issue, his hands are somewhat tied. “There’s only certain things we can do since much of that is regulated by the FAA. You have to be aware of flight paths. I used to live right under the path.”

He described the planes coming close enough to make him do a double-take however he does not see it being a long-term problem. “I can’t see that airport being giant, like Seatac, but you always have to listen to people because it does affect them.”

He says a bigger concern are the oil trains. “You don’t realize the impact of an oil train until you are waiting for 15 minutes. This is a pain in the butt! People have to have a voice, and we have to listen to them. You can’t always make people happy but you can never stop trying.”

Gary Jensen being interviewed

Gary Jensen being interviewed

Jensen leaves Ferndale without an anointed successor. Council member Cathy Watson has announced her intention to run but no one else has jumped in. Jensen says he probably would not endorse in that race but would work with whoever is elected.

“I would certainly work with them, but I think that I have a good staff – young talented people. When I came into office, the staff was still upset, they weren’t together. Planning and Public Works worked across the hallway from each other but did not talk. Ferndale still has some problems, and my to-do list is way bigger than what I’ve accomplished.”

Jensen’s proudest achievements as mayor? At first he defers, noting that it is never one person that makes something happen, “I don’t think that politicians should self grade their test,” but when pressed gives a few examples. “I’m proud of the Lean movement, that people’s voices are being heard. I’m proud that it is friendlier, that our council works together. If you had a permit in Ferndale, we work with you.”

“The city had worked for 29 years to build a police station. Things like that drive me crazy. I had a committee one time, they spent four meetings on a mission statement. I told them, you haven’t done anything other than argue about the mission statement. You haven’t done anything! Mission statements are important but can we get to doing something?”

He mentions the struggle with the City of Bellingham over locating the new Costco. In the end, Mayor Linville secured the new location with the city limits of Bellingham but Jensen was lobbying hard for them to relocate to Ferndale. “In the end, she smoked me.”

Speaking of local executives, what does Jensen think of Port Executive Rob Fix? “Rob? I’ve been in meetings with him. He’s talented, he’s a numbers guys. I will completely tell you what I think of him when I work beside him.” With that artful dodge, I wrap up the interview with a quick question about football.

What is his take on Ballghazi? “You can’t just bump them out of the Superbowl, but they should lose their draft picks and pay a fine. You couldn’t all of sudden disqualify a team and (Colts Quarterback) Andrew Luck can’t catch up that fast.”

While Andrew Luck may have trouble, Jensen’s luck continues to go strong as he prepares for his first County-wide election for Port. So far, he is the only candidate declared for that seat, but it is early and I will post updates as they happen.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 23, 2015

Friday Odds and Ends: Black Out, Joy Jumps and Riley Recognized

Hello Loyal Readers,

It has been a lively week – with the State of the Union address capturing the national media and the football world rocked by the Ballghazi scandal. Locally however, the wheels of local politics continue their slow, meandering way forward.

On Wednesday, I sat down with outgoing Ferndale Mayor and candidate for Port Commission, Gary Jensen. That interview should go live tomorrow but as part of the interview, he said that Ralph Black has reconsidered running since Jensen jumped in. Perhaps having the sitting port commissioner and director disown his candidacy played a part but more likely, Jensen entering the race pushed him out.

Meanwhile, former legislative candidate and lively interview subject Joy Monjure is back – this time running in Whatcom County’s most obscure election ever. She is running for a supervisor position with the Whatcom Conservation District. In an email to supporters, she explains the importance of this role,

Joy Monjure

Joy Monjure

Whatcom County faces several natural resource challenges that threaten our health, culture, economy, and quality of life. We’ve made progress towards salmon recovery, but still have a long way to go to improve habitat conditions.  Shellfish harvest areas continue to close due to worsening water quality. The impacts of climate change, including warmer temperatures and more extreme weather events are expected to drive a significant migration of “climate refugees” to the Pacific Northwest. This growth has the potential to degrade our natural systems and change the very character of our community.

Conservation Districts are a unique form of non-regulatory government. They match local resource needs with technical and financial resources to help landowners with “on-the-ground” conservation projects. With a network of 45 conservation districts operating locally across the state, the Washington State Conservation Commission (SCC) and partner districts are well positioned to lead resource conservation efforts. Conservation district staff has both the technical expertise to ensure quality work and the local knowledge needed to build trusting relationships with landowners.

Whatcom Conservation District’s mission is to assist land managers with their conservation choices. Since 1946, they have worked with landowners and farmers to manage natural resources in Whatcom County.

 To vote in the conservation district election, you have to request a ballot by Feb. 9th. Go to www.whatcomcd.org and at the top of the page, click on the supervisor election notice. Then select request an absentee ballot using their online form.

Joy Monjure is simply one of the most talented and heartfelt candidates that I have ever known – that is why I was part of her campaign team in 2014 and am enthusiastically urging you to support her in this election.

Thoughts on Paul deArmond

Thoughts on Paul deArmond

Finally,  I am this year’s recipient of the Paul deArmond Citizen Journalism award. Paul deArmond did some incredible work, and I had the pleasure of listening to some his “war stories” on a few occasions before he passed. To receive this award is truly an honor.

Ralph Schwartz at the Herald did a fantastic write-up (check it out here), as did John Servais at NWCitizen (check it out here), and many people have been very kind on social media. Thank you all, I’m truly touched.

While it is my hands on the keyboard, this blog is in many ways a community effort. Thank you to everyone who donates, cheers me on, provides tips and leads, and so much more.

Back to the grind, Jensen’s interview is on tap for tomorrow and legislative coverage every week – starting with a closer look at Rep. Vincent Buys legislative efforts.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 18, 2015

The Capital Beat 2015: The Good and the Expected

Hello Loyal Readers,

That’s right, after a few weeks of calling around, I secured a fresh set of sources in Olympia and am ready for my second straight year of weekly legislative coverage. Every week (I’m aiming for Tuesday but it may fluctuate), I will be reporting on our state legislature with a focus on the legislators from the 40th and 42nd. You can support this effort by donating here.

Sen. Cyrus Habib

Sen. Cyrus Habib

I wanted to start off with some good news. Amid the tense battles over climate change, budget and education, Sen. Cyrus Habib (D), who we profiled last year, proposed a bill that would allow you, me, and anyone with a internet connection and web cam to submit our own comments on bills being proposed.

These videos would be stored, youtube-style, through TVW (Washington’s C-SPAN) and accessible to legislators during the decision-making process – thus saving ordinary citizens the cost of taking off work, driving to Olympia and twisting the legislator’s arm in person.

The downside is that legislators would actually have to chose to view these videos, citizens would have to be able to understand what legislation is being proposed and there are no free lunches involved.

Did someone say Doug Ericksen (R-Free Lunch)? Yes, he is back in Olympia and dining on lobbyist’s dime once again. This time he was spotted at Ramblin’ Jacks (a popular Olympia happy hour location) dining with lobbyist Thomas Parker who just picked up a contract with the Whatcom Council of Governments. Yes – a decent lobbyist.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, dining on lobbyist dime

Sen. Doug Ericksen, dining on lobbyist dime

When the bill came, Parker paid the tab with a $20 while Ericksen was watching but swapped it out with his card after Ericksen left. With the last election so solidly in his favor, I’m not surprised to see Ericksen returning to his ethically-challenged behavior.

With the next couple of posts in The Capital Beat, I will be profiling the legislative proposals from all of the Whatcom County legislators. Stay tuned!

There I was, peacefully watching the Seahawks game in a small Pizza parlor in Port Townsend when my phone starts blowing up with emails from Rob Fix and Dan Robbins. Loyal Readers may remember this part of my 2015 political preview on Friday:

Local developer (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Ralph Black and labor leader (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Chris Johnson. Black is being supported by Dan Robbins and Rob Fix . . . insert your own “The Fix is In” joke here.

Yesterday, Fix emailed me to say that he has never endorsed Black – so naturally, I red-lined the sentence in my blog and checked my notes. Upon review, I found that Robbins had said that Fix and he were supporting Black. Assuming that Robbins was overzealous, I let Fix know and scheduled a blog update for clarification.

Then I got this email from Dan Robbins:

robbinsdeception copy

This is where Robbins story falls apart. The event was the “What About Those Promises” after party hosted by Lummi Nation. He was taking Ralph Black around and introducing him as Rob Fix and Dan Robbins choice for Port – I watched him do this twice and two other people at the event recall the same thing. I checked the story with them after it happened and again before this post.

Dan Robbins

Dan Robbins

Do I believe that Rob Fix has endorsed Ralph Black? No, he always struck me as a smart and effective communicator – I believe that Robbins was merely speaking out of turn. But I stand by my reporting of Robbins shilling for Black. So here is the real question, what makes Dan Robbins willing to lie repeatedly to avoid being associated with Black?

I know we have a hard time calling people liars in Whatcom. It is rude and we prefer a whole range of euphemisms. “He misspoke,” or “that’s just not accurate”. But in this case, I’m standing by my use of the term.

This isn’t the first time Robbins has crossed lines and then back-peddled to cover his tracks. During Robbins’ election in 2013, he met with fellow candidate Ken Bell and Rob Fix in the Railroad Avenue Woods Coffee location and tried to persuade them that Renata Kowalczyk was a scary communist (much of that material was regurgitated in a Whatcom Excavator post here). Unfortunately Kowalczyk herself was sitting a few tables away and heard the whole thing. They saw her when they walked out. When a Kowalczyk supporter confronted Robbins about it, he denied everything.

It is disappointing when our public officials feel a need to deceive the public. I’ve filed a public records request to get more details, so this story should continue to develop.

Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 9, 2015

2015 Political Preview: All Politics is Local

If you like local politics, 2015 is your year to shine. After the broad strokes of 2014 (what were the issues last year? Malaise with a side of attack ads?), it is time to zero in on Washington State and Whatcom County. Before I dive in, I want to recognize the great work done over at Politics Whatcom who beat me to the punch on this article by four days.

Washington State: Although no state-level offices are up for election this year, the first four months of political coverage while be dominated by the legislature as they tackle two big issues: Jay Inslee’s climate change proposals and funding education.

Gov. Jay Inslee

Doug? Lunch-time’s over, you’ve got to get in here and vote

Inslee’s proposal made big headlines when it debuted soon after the election but here’s a pretty good breakdown of the pros. In short, it is Cap and Trade (where polluters purchase a limited number of carbon credits detailing how much polution they can emit – credits that can then be resold to other companies). It is a free market solution to environmental protection and will face criticism from both sides of the aisle.

Funding education will continue to be a challenge. The legislature has continued to fulfil its court-mandated responsibility to fully fund education and this obstinance (highlighted by Rep. Vincent Buys letter blasting the Supreme Court) has our legislators facing potential jail time.

I suspect many negotiators on both sides of the aisle were waiting to see if 2014 would return control of the State Senate to democratic hands, but the flying fickle finger of fate (yes, a Laugh-In reference in a millennial blog, deal with it) put that chamber firmly in Republican control. With both sides resigned to dealing with each other for another two years, they may be forced to work out some sort of long-term funding solution for our schools.

Whatcom County: Closer to home, we have a whole slew of County-wide incumbents up for reelection. County Executive Jack Louws is widely expected to run for reelection, as is County Treasurer Steve Oliver and County Auditor Debbie Adelstein. Less certain is County Sheriff Bill Elfo, who’s race may be overshadowed by the proposed $100 million Bond to pay for the new jail this year.

This outfit is actually his pajamas

This outfit is actually his pajamas

As for the County Council, Pete Kremen, Sam Crawford and Barbara Brenner are all up for reelection this year. With four progressive votes already secured in 2013, the spectre of coal conflict may lie dormant this year, but that does not mean it will be a quiet year.

Pete Kremen, mustache enthusiast, has threatened to retire from public office before but I suspect that he will renew his commitment to the council. His years of experience allow him to skip much of the background research required for the position, letting him roll out of bed Tuesday morning (springing forth Athena-like fully clad in a suit), wander into the county council chambers and immediately begin pontificating on whatever the subject he desires. Not a bad retirement gig, all things considered.

Sam Crawford, on the other hand, barely squeaked through in his last election, surviving by a mere 500 votes against a lackluster and underfunded opponent. If a popular opponent, say a recent candidate for office, were to come out of the woodwork and declare against Crawford, he may decide to pack up his bags and call it good – setting off a chain reaction of local conservative candidates looking to fill his shoes.

Barbara Brenner is the kiwi to our Whatcom County fruit salad – you’re not really sure how it got there, or why it keeps getting put in yet it is popular with the oddest people. I would be very surprised if she bows out or faces stiff opposition. Not that she shouldn’t, Brenner hasn’t run a strong campaign in years, but right now, I doubt anyone will take a run at her.

City of Bellingham: All signs point towards Mayor Kelli Linville running for reelection. After a narrowly defeating Dan Pike in 2011, Linville has had an interesting four years in office. She has a few successes under her belt, forward momentum on the waterfront development for instance, but she has also faced some public criticism for closed door negotiations (see Costco Expansion), fights with the Roosevelt neighborhood over drastic traffic changes, and most disappointingly to me, the mishandling of Public Access television which is now neither public nor providing access to the airwaves.

Mayor Kelli Linville

Mayor Kelli Linville

However, Linville benefits from a seemingly endless supply of goodwill from the community for her years in the public eye, her natural skills as a peacemaker and an (almost) complete dearth of credible opponents. Michael Lilliquist took umbrage recently at my repeated insinuations that he may run against Linville this year but he remains one of the only people in town expressing any sort of interest.

Moving down ballot, Jack Weiss is up for reelection and may decide to bow out after several years on the council, leaving the Ward 1 slot open. As mentioned earlier this week, Roxanne Murphy is considering running for the Ward 3 seat – moving from the At-Large position to challenge newly appointed councilman Dan Hammill – a maneuver that would unleash a free-for-all as the At-Large position opens up city-wide.

Port of Bellingham: Jim Jorgensen, long-time Port Commissioner for District 3, is widely expected to retire this year, leaving his seat open for election. Local developer (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Ralph Black and labor leader (and unsuccessful Charter Review candidate) Chris Johnson. Black is being supported by Dan Robbins and Rob Fix . . . insert your own “The Fix is In” joke here.Rob contacted me to say he has not endorsed Black. I’m following up with my original source for clarification.

Charter Review Proposals: Finally, the Charter Review committee will meet and examine our County constitution. Already on the menu – switching county council races to District Only voting, a move that may benefit conservatives in the short term but could shut them out of County Government in the long-term. Any proposals put forth by the committee have to be approved by the voters this November.

That’s it for your electoral preview. If you find this material helpful, please share this post on social media or email around. We thrive on the sunshine of new subscribers.

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