For Part One (The Controversial Races!), check out my blog post here.
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After the first round of balloting, about half the room dropped off their ballots and cleared out. Because so many people turned out, it still felt very cramped, but at least now we could hear each other. Natalie McClendon, who did a fantastic job of managing the meeting, did our usual drawing, covered some details and then launched us right back into candidate speeches. The second wave of candidates were those without Democratic challengers, in short, the non-controversial ones. But that didn’t mean they were boring.
First up was Steve Oliver for County Treasurer. He started out talking about how because of his work in the Treasurers office, Whatcom County did not lose its shirt during the financial collapse of 2008. “I moved the money to safe investments when things started to look bad so that I could keep your money safe.” He introduced his goal to set up a monthly payment plan for property taxes.
County Council, District 1
Next up was the County Council race, District One. Pete Kremen took to the stage to a warm welcome. “I want my legacy to be about protecting state assets.” He cited the need for affordable housing, where his opponent, Tony Larson, tried to stop. He said one of his highest priorities is the Reconveyance, which, I have to admit, goes a little over my head. That’s why I usually differ to Jean Melious (see her blog here) or Shane Roth (see his blog here) on those sort of issues. Overall, Pete Kremen was in his element. Talking policy and collaboration with a friendly crowd.
By far the most entertaining moment came from Abe Jacobson, local curmudgeon and friend of this blog asked a question. He said, “I live in District One, and am currently represented by a Councilwoman who does not believe in the laws of Chemistry, and another that does not believe in the laws of Physics.” These were references to Kathy Kershner, who aside from promoting Sexual Assault in our community, also once said “Phosphorus does not affect our drinking water.” I have to say, I cracked up at the first example and missed why Tony Larson opposes the science of physics (maybe Abe can comment and help me out), but the end result was this question: “Will you take a pledge that you believe in physics and chemistry?” Without missing a beat, Pete Kremen said, “I’m going to go out on a limb and say yes, I will take that pledge.”
County Council, District 2
Next up, Christina Maginnis. Obviously a fresh face, she talked about the need for good jobs, storm water protection and building a more sustainable community. “I want to create a place where people want to invest their time and money.” She talked about her plans to support farmers by protecting their farming rights, and a comprehensive plan to reduce phosphorus. I asked her a question, citing Sam Crawford’sefforts to evade public disclosure laws and his frequent attempts to do the public’s business in private, I asked Christina if she would commit to an open government practices. She said, “Absolutely, it is one of the main reasons I am running.”
This prompted star and organizer of Whatcom County’s “Drinking Liberally” Dave Willingham to poke me with this tweet. “@rileysweeney asks the softball questions no one else has the guts to. #whatcomvotes”
In return, I’m posting a picture of him looking at me skeptically. This is the image I always picture when I think of Dave.
Behind the Scenes
Back to the action. While all this is going on, a team of six volunteers was meticulously counting the ballots. It was a complicated process as people could vote for multiple candidates for the same office, or vote “No Endorsement” and each race had to evaluated separately against how many votes were cast. Steve Schuck, organizational guru and membership chair, over saw the process, with a handful of observers from the campaigns looking on. I am of the belief that the more complicated a process is, the farther away from Steve Schuck it must be, for he is a machete to bureaucratic Kudzu vines. Here are some pictures of the process.
County Council, District 3
Back to the candidates, Alan Black took the stage and quickly gave Pete Kremen a run for his money in the “Velvetiest voice” category. Seriously, this guy should do audiobooks or something. He talked about his history as a pilot in Vietnam, and his proud work as an aviator and a union member. “The County Council is approaching a defining moment, with decisions made that will guide our country far into the future.” He paused and looked out on the crowd with a bit of a twinkle in his eye. “Failure to act is not an option.” Black rattled off his priorities; farms, shorelines, air and water quality. Our need to preserve our social contract especially with those who are considered most vulnerable.
Bellingham City Council, Wards 1 and 5 and At-Large
I have to admit, I missed most of Jack Weiss and Terry Bornemann’s speeches, although I heard Terry’s was a fiery barn-burner about the need for progressive leadership. Sorry guys, I’ll make it up to you. Seth Fleetwood had a family commitment and couldn’t make it to the meeting.
Wrapping Things Up
After the candidate speeches, things got a little scattered. Ballots for the second wave were turned in and most people meandered into little groups to hold their own discussions. Natalie desperately tried to hold their attention for an official party business meeting, but after about fifteen minutes, she politely gave up and turned the mike off as we anxiously awaited the final tally.
Richard May, myself and Jean Brechan stepped into the storage closet where there was a piano and sang a few blues tunes to bide away the time till 10:15pm when we got our first set of results.
We endorsed all the candidates on this blog post. Oliver, Kremen, Maginnis, Black, Weiss, Bornemann and Fleetwood were all endorsed by solid margins.
Here is the last set of pictures from the evening. Things that caught my eye. Do you see anyone you know? Feel free to comment with your thoughts, if you were there, or questions if you weren’t.
I would really like to thank Team Political Junkie for their help with this blog post. My dear brother,
Devlin Sweeney, took notes when I was called away and had a great eye for important details. My incredible bride-to-be Bryna Hoffmeister snapped 90% of the photos and did a fantastic job. If you need a photographer, check out her website here.
Here is the rest of our gallery: