Posted by: sweeneyblog | August 3, 2011

Riley’s Voting Recommendations . . . kindof

Hello Loyal Readers,

     I was very tempted to share my personal choices for the primary election this year, but several factors make that difficult. A coworker of mine with the Whatcom Dems, the incredible Steve Schuck, often refers to me as “Bartholomew” after the Dr. Suess story (pictured below) because of the many different roles I play in local politics. For instance:

     I am the Communications Chair of the Whatcom Democrats. That means I sit on their E-Board, and write a good chunk of the newsletter and weekly announcements. This leads some people to think that when I talk it has extra weight or I’m speaking for the Democrats locally. I’m not. The only person empowered to do that is our chair, Natalie McClendon (note, she’s the one on the left). However, this does lead to some confusion among people, so I frequently have to be careful about what I say.

     I am also the Campaign Manager for Pete Kremen as he runs for County Council, and he has asked me to keep a low profile on some issues. He wants to make sure that my personal choices are not souring people on his candidacy, something I completely understand and support. How would it look for him to support one person but his campaign manager supports another? Very awkward.

     Finally, I have working relationships with various candidates, interest groups, campaign managers, media outlets and politicians around the County, and I want to preserve those relationships as much as is reasonable so I can continue to be involved moving forward. Already, I’ve gotten concerned emails and blowback for speaking positively of some candidates that others dislike.

     With that in mind, it makes it very tricky for me to speak strongly for or against some candidates, especially in the primary races where you have choices between similar Democrats. I’ve made one endorsement (you can read it here) and support a couple of initiatives for the general (here and here), but for the most part, I’ve tried to keep quite because of all these conflicting hats.

However, because I write about local politics and there aren’t many sources for Whatcom County news, I am getting lots of google hits as people try to figure out how to vote. With that in mind, I give you some recommended reading to help you sort out how you want to vote in the three races on the primary ballot. I’m going to include some bare bones info about each candidate and then send you some links to read further on your own so you can make up your own mind.

County Executive

David Stalheim,
an Endorsed Democrat from Bellingham. Currently works as a grant manager for the City of Bellingham dealing with low-income housing and is the former planning director of Whatcom County. To learn more about him, might I recommend a letter written in support of his candidacy by my former boss and resident smart person, Jean Melious here. You can read David and Jean’s blog, Get Whatcom Planning here. Finally, might I suggest a profile that Cascadia Weekly did here.

Tom Anderson, a self-described Independent (but endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats) from just outside the city limits. Tom managed the Public Utilities District for ten sixteen years, and was very involved in Transition Whatcom which addressed global warming climate change and sustainability issues. Might I recommend a fine profile that the Cascadia Weekly did here.

Jack Louws, a conservative and former Mayor of Lynden. You might remember him from my previous post where he won the dessert contestat the Dem’s Picnic, ironically enough. As friend of this blog, Shane Roth said, “My support of desserts knows no political boundaries.” Here is a letter in the Herald supporting Louws, and here is the editorial he wrote making his case.

Doug Ericksen, current Republican Senator of the 42nd Legislative District. I’m sorry, I tried to find something nice for Doug, but really these two moments best define his character. First, he tried to arrest my friend Shane Roth for videotaping his public town hall meeting. You can read a full account of Doug Ericksen’s  actions here. Second, when asked a question about gay rights and women’s health at a recent forum, Doug berated the asker and refused to answer the question. You can find that covered here.

County Sheriff

Bill Elfo, our current Sheriff of the last eight years is running for re-election. He is being challenged by Steve Harris, a detective in his department and former Deputy guild president and Bob Taylor, another Deputy from inside his office. For this race, I point you towards the write-up I did when Harris and Elfo came to the Democrats endorsement meeting here in which I discuss the two candidates. Also, here is a recent Herald article comparing the three of them and their positions on the issues of the Sheriff’s department. In this race, all three candidates are conservatives, though they might parse that out a bit. I urge everyone to consider not their partisan background but who has the best views for the office of the Sheriff.

Mayor of Bellingham

Dan Pike,
current mayor of Bellingham is running for re-election. I have in the past, posted about a disagreement I’ve had with a line of logic pushed by his supporters (read that here), and he and I have disagreed over other city issues (namely his support of Red Light Cameras). However, some good resources for making a decision about Dan Pike would be his Washington Conservation Voters endorsement here, and my write-up about his debate at the Dems endorsement meeting here

Kelli Linville, fmr Democratic Representative from the 42nd Legislative District. Here is her statement for the Whatcom Dems newsletter and here is her editorial in the Herald.

Clayton Petree, a local land-use consultant and conservative self-identified Independent. I haven’t had as much contact with Clayton as I would like, but he did stop by while I was live-blogging from the Courthouse at the last day of Filing Week. Check out his website here. We will be posting an interview with him hopefully in the next week.

Steven Moore, Commercial real estate agent in town, very conservative. Check out his announcement here. Endorsed by the local Republicans here.

I think that just about covers it. Like I said, I’m not trying to piss anyone off, just to provide you with the information I am using to make my decision. I think that everyone is entitled to their own views and their own votes. I urge everyone to do their research and make the decisions that best fit with their values, even if it is not the conclusion I came to, I will still respect you. The most important thing for you to do is turn in your ballot.

Remember, We are People first and political activists second.



  1. Hey, thank you, Riley for the Candidate information run-down. I haven’t checked out all the links yet but will do so. I have, of course, eliminated Doug and Jack from my focus. And, I’m still making up my mind about Tom and Dave. The incumbent Sheriff is on top for that position. Just want to say, my friend, you are walking a tight rope it seems – I wish you a lot of good luck!

  2. Holy crud, Riley. Transition Whatcom is about grow local, buy local and sustainability, it has nothing to do with any theories or science about why the climate is or is not changing. It’s about dealing with the population size and future scarcity of resources including gas. Also, if someone pays membership in the Whatcom Democrats, and gets endorsed by them, they are “independent-leaning” at best. Ericksens is a self described independent, but he pays for membership with the local GOP.

    • When I was helping Tom get started on his campaign for Executive, he told me that he doesn’t consider himself a Democrat. He has no objection to anything in the platform, just concerns about how they might be carried out. Now as for Transition Whatcom, I said they “addressed global warming issues.” Let me just hope on over to their website and pull their mission statement to see if I accurately represented their goals. Here you go:

      TheTransition approach empowers communities to squarely face the challenges of peak oil and climate change, and to unleash the collective genius of their own people to find the answers to this momentous question: For all those aspects of life that this community needs in order to sustain itself and thrive, how do we:
      Dramatically reduce carbon emissions (in response to climate change);
      Significantly increase resilience (in response to peak oil);
      Greatly strengthen our local economy (in response to economic instability)?

      Was I being fair to summerize that as “addressing global warming?” I think so.

  3. I was just pointing out that it’s not the climate change club, it’s the sustainability club. Peak oil isn’t about arguing WHY or what the scientific causes are, it’s about learning how to deal with less gas and worse conditions.

    • Discussed it with Tom Anderson’s campaign people, minor wording changed to reflect that discussion.

  4. […] Note: An interview is not an endorsement. The Political Junkie urges people to read his Expanded Voter’s Guide for more information on how to vote. Finally, my apologies for any misquotes or incorrect facts, I […]

  5. […] was not unusually so. I also got an email from Whatcom Democrats supervolunteer, and coiner of the “many hats” theory Steve Schuck making very much the same […]

  6. […] I’ve written about before, I wear a great deal of hats and many of them intersect in public. By day, I work for WWU as a fundraiser. In my off hours, I […]

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