Posted by: sweeneyblog | April 16, 2013

County Council Races Begin: Rud and Kathy

With filing week fast approaching, this is the time for everyone to begin their campaigns. In rapid succession, various candidates have announced their candidacy for election or reelection. As I mentioned earlier, this is going to be a fiercely fought campaign and we here at The Political Junkie will do our best to provide you with the best, most in depth coverage available of the Whatcom County Council races.

Rud Browne

First up, entrepreneur Rud Browne declared his run for the At-Large seat against incumbent Bill Knutzen. Rud Browne recently sold the company he built from the ground up, Ryzex, and it is still one of the largest employers in Whatcom County. Browne has been heavily involved in county politics for the last couple of years. He served on the ethics commission that, in 2010, ruled on whether Ward Nelson broke any rules in stonewalling everyone but himself as Bob Kelly’s replacement (confused? Read here). He also lobbied the County Council in support of the reconveyance, drafting a great editorial in the Herald urging approval.

Now he is taking his business acumen and insight to the County Council. His kickoff is tomorrow, from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. in the Mt. Baker Theater Encore Room (around the corner from The Table). I will be there, and hopefully interview Browne about his views at some later date.

Browne, despite the perception about businessmen running for office, totes a long list of Democratic endorsements.

Kathy Kershner's first campaign

Kathy Kershner’s first campaign

On the other side of the spectrum, Republican Kathy Kershner declared that she is running for reelection. No one has declared to run against her yet. In the past two years, she has served as council chair and been at the center of many struggles. She had voiced criticism of the reconveyance in the past and voted several times to delay the decision on it until it was clear it had the votes to pass, then she voted to support it.

Update: Kathy Kershner called me to clarify that she does not remember voting against the Reconveyance at any point, only voting to “give the community more time to look it over”.

Last year, she was a national Republican delegate for Romney and has been heavily involved in Republican party politics for the last four years. She cut an ad endorsing Vincent Buys and did a number of Republican fundraisers. Which is why I was so surprised to see Ralph Schwartz‘ article in the Herald describing her as an “independent-minded Republican.” If I ran for office, with my long record of Democratic party politics, would I be described as an “independent-minded Democrat”?

Aside from the Herald’s unusual choice of headlines, this race has yet to draw a challenger, but in my mind, this will be one of the most interesting races. You can read my long interview I did with Kershner last year here.

In other news, Bill Knutzen and Carl Weimer both declared their run for reelection, as well as Weimer’s former challenger Michelle Luke. I will be profiling them in a couple days.



  1. It will be a tight race for sure between Rud and Kathy! I just wanted to say that Rud has been involved with the Whatcom Democrats for many more then a couple of years. I first met him when he was on the Candidate/Campaign committee in something like 2004. It will take a lot of work to get his name out to county people. He will be a great addition to the county council!

    • Actually, Rud is running against Bill Knutzen and Kathy has no opposition right now. I’ll clarify that above.

  2. ‘If I ran for office, with my long record of Democratic party politics, would I be described as an “independent-minded Democrat”?’

    If you took political risks and occasionally voted against the progressive/Democratic line, then possibly so. Kershner didn’t have to vote for the reconveyance just because it had four other votes. In fact, that insulated her to vote against it to mollify the conservative base. She voted her head, not her party affiliation.

    Hopefully people didn’t misconstrue the Herald headline to mean “Independent” as in some sort of party tag (or non-party tag). It certainly wasn’t meant in the Joe Lieberman, “I’m no longer a Democrat, I’m an Independent” sense. It meant “independent,” adj., “free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority.”

    • Again, two different ways to characterize the same vote. However that is just one vote, hence my mentioning the long list of partisan activities she has been involved in.

      And for the record, I have taken political risks and frequently disagreed with various Democrats. I endorsed a handful of Republicans in the last couple of years, and crossed party lines to oppose the Red Light Cameras that were being pushed by our Democratic mayor.

  3. […] Despite objections by my critics, I still maintain that Kershner has proved to be capable of departing from the predictable, partisan decision and voting her mind after much internal deliberation. I have no reason to think she wouldn’t do the same with the coal issue, if it even comes before the council in the next four years. […]

  4. I understand the method Ralph chose for applying the independent-minded tag to councilwoman Kershner and I do somewhat agree.
    It’s not so much the vein of your voting,
    it’s more the deliberation you employ to reach your decision.
    That thoughtful introspection must have failed miserably to have led her to take any part in the GOP crap machine or boosting their pathetic candidates.

  5. I too think that Kathy fits the description that Ralph layed upon her. She is a solid Republican: yet, she voted her open minded mind on reconveyance. While, I am left-leaning, I applaud Kathy Kirshner for being involved in her Party and for her reconveyance vote. I just wish that those endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats for non-partisan offices were as active in their party as Kathy is in hers.

  6. […] Council, District One: As I previously reported, national Republican delegate and current council chair Kathy Kershner is running for reelection, however Barry Buchanan has stepped up to challenge her. Buchanan, former […]

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