Posted by: sweeneyblog | December 5, 2009

In Defense of Dan McShane

For those of you just tuning in, the Whatcom County Council races were one for the history books. Four liberal candidates, running a pretty united campaign, faced off against for conservative candidates who also ran a very united campaign. Two of each group won but I want to direct our eye to the race with Dan McShane (Democrat) facing off against Kathy Kershner (Republican). It was decided by around 200 votes for Kershner. Very nail-biting down to the wire sort of election night for that race (unlike, say the one I managed).

Right after the election, one of the other council members, Bob Kelly (Democrat), resigned so that he can do some good work with the Nooksack Tribe, leaving his seat to be filled by a vote from the other council people. This vacancy is EXTREMELY important. It will either maintain a tie between conservative and liberal votes, or it will give the conservatives a majority.

One of the people who, after some thought, applied for the position is Dan McShane. He was on the council for a good long while before retiring two years ago to run for mayor. He lost the bitterly fought race and this year sought to gain his seat back on the council. But, unfortunately, he was outspent nearly two to one and lost by a nose. I think he deserves this seat. Here’s why.

This year there will be three newbies to the County Council, one liberal (Ken Mann) and two conservatives (Kathy Kershner and Bill Knutzen). They will be dealing with big land use issues and they will need someone familiar with the role of county government and well-practiced and building consensus. Dan McShane is just that man. He has the experience and the perspective that will be essential in keeping such an ideologically divided council from disintegrating into permanent deadlock. In Olympia, our city council was split in a similar way and because most of the council was new to the process, nothing got done for four years as they fought among themselves. We can’t afford another four years.

I know that the McShane’s are frequently polarizing figures. His wife, Lisa McShane, aside from being a very talented painter, is an extremely sharp political mind. She worked for the Gregoire campaign and has been quite effective working with the local democrats. Unfortunately this has been spun out into a paranoid vision by conservatives into the "Lisa McShane Political Machine". Its so disappointing that so many level-headed people are threatened by professional and capable women. She is hardly some diabolically mastermind. Dan, a geologist by trade, has all the legislative and technical knowledge that the council needs to tackle the upcoming land use, watershed and city growth issues. Half the district voted for him, lets put the runner up on the council. The new kids will need his calm and steady hand.

Now, I’m sure someone will call me out as being part of the imaginary "McShane political machine". If this were true, I’d want a shirt that says "McMinion".



  1. […] to a local campaign. Kershner’s race went into recounts against nice guy geologist Dan McShane until she finally triumphed with 50.28% of the vote, a margin of around 300 […]

  2. […] Alex Ramel (of Whatcom Conservation Voters), Tony Larson (fmr. Tea Party County Councilmember) and Lisa McShane (does she need a parenthetical description?) at the same kickoff, you know the other guy is in […]

  3. Hello.This article was really interesting,
    particularly since I was looking for thoughts on this issue last Thursday.

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