Posted by: sweeneyblog | May 17, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Candidates, Stand Your Ground and the Jail

Hello Loyal Readers,

I want to apologize for the lack of content last week (I even missed my Odds and Ends, very tragic), it has been a hectic week with my work and I needed to devote all my energies there. That said, I’m back on the case as filing week wraps up and election season officially begins. Without further do, let’s dive in.

Candidates are declaring and filing at a steady rate, however they are receiving very little news coverage. John Servais over at NWCitizen contests that the Herald has been rather selective over which candidacy they publicize. Here at The Political Junkie, we try to give everyone a fair shake (except maybe Rep. Overstreet’s gold coin obsession). It is my goal to interview each and every candidate for local office before the August primary, so stay tuned for continued coverage. The candidates thus far:

County 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 City Councilmember and Democratic county chair, originally declared for the Bellingham At-Large seat but has since moved over to challenge Kershner. Patti Brooks was rumored to be pursuing this seat but she has yet to file.

Ben Elenbaas

Ben Elenbaas

County Council, District Two: Moderate businessman Ken Mann has drawn a challenger for his reelection effort: Ben Elenbaas. Elenbaas, a local Republican volunteer and fundraiser for Rep. Overstreet, has deep family ties with the farming community. This should be a closely fought race.

County Council, District Three: Nothing new or unexpected here. Carl Weimer, public safety advocate squares off against Planning Committee chair Michelle Luke.

County Council, At Large: Again, nothing new here. Local entrepreneur Rud Browne squares off against current councilman Bill Knutzen.

Port of Bellingham Commission, District One: In what is rapidly shaping up to be the most interesting race this cycle, the open seat created by Scott Walker’s retirement has drawn three challengers: Renata Kowalczyk, Dan Robbins and Glen TenKley. I must admit, I really don’t know enough about these three to give you a briefing and they are top of my list for interviews.

Port of Bellingham Commission, District Two: Mike McAuley is running for reelection but has drawn a challenger, Ken Bell. Bell ran for mayor a few cycles back and lost to Mark Asmundsen County Council a few years back and has since been relatively absent from the political arena. Clearly, he has decided to break that silence.

Pinky Vargas Shocked

Pinky Vargas Shocked

Bellingham City Council, Ward Four: Pinky Vargas held her campaign kickoff on Wednesday and I can honestly say it was one of the most theatrical kickoffs I have ever attended. Vargas climbed inside a cage and got electrified by a 10-foot tall Tesla coil. Despite this colorful display, she has drawn a challenger, Clayton Petree. Petree, a biking enthusiast and political moderate, ran against Pike and Linville for mayor in 2011. Check out my interview with Petree here. He also spoke out recently against the Reconveyance, you can read his objections here.

Bellingham City Council, At-Large: With Buchanan departing for the county race, the At-Large seat continues to be a hot race. Nooksack administrator Roxanne Murphy is facing off against Bellingham Twelve advocate Bob Burr and newcomer Allen Brown. Full disclosure: Murphy has asked for my advice as part of her campaign team.

Others: Ferndale and Blaine both have competitive council races and I will be gathering more information on them as the campaign season continues.

A calm and rational gun safety advocate

A calm and rational gun safety advocate

On another topic, there was a shooting two blocks away from where I live. The details are not completely settled but it looks like this case will be another test of the “Stand Your Ground” idea. The basics are that three guys were messing around on the sidewalk, the shooter confronted them to see if it was a domestic disturbance. They told him no. He retreated to his front yard and started taking video footage of these guys messing around. They started shouting at him (he was near their car, they were concerned that he would damage it). One of the drunk guys came toward the shooter and he fired, putting three bullets in the drunk guy’s torso and legs.

We will see if the courts determine this as self-defense, but it looks to me like a classic situation of a gun escalating a situation that could have easily been diffused. It serves as a reminder that the national discussion over gun safety and civilian possession of firearms can have very real local consequences.

Finally, thank you to everyone who emailed the county about their plan for a jail that is too big and too expensive for our community. You can read about it here and send your own email by clicking here. This is a vital issue and they are only taking comments through May 30th. Please help persuade them not to make this costly mistake.



  1. Ken Bell was a candidate for the Whatcom County Council in 1995. He ran for District 1, Position B. He came in third in the primary with 31.3 percent of the vote; David Hunter received 33.4 percent the Kathy Sutter received 35.4 percent. The winner of the general election was Kathy Sutter, she spent 59 cents per vote for the entire race and Bell spent whopping $4.08 per vote in the primary. Ken Bell spent more money in the primary than David Hunter spent in the entire race.

    Is Ken Bell going to be spending big bucks in his port race?

    • Thank you so much Bill! You are an incredible resource.

  2. Allen Brown is an ardent Gateway Pacific advocate. I am running because I vociferously oppose coal export and transport. Being backed by most of the established Democrats, I would expect Roxanne Murphy to follow a wishy-washy approach (skillfully wordsmithed wishy washy with Riley advising).

    Follow the money on all of our campaigns.

    • That is perhaps one of my favorite backhanded compliments I have ever received. Thank you Bob 🙂

  3. Since there is only 300 inmates now, and incarceration rates are dropping, why are we spending our precious dollars on building a monster jail? Who are they planning to put in there? Just wondering.

  4. […] I briefly attended Clayton Petree’s kickoff. While it did not have the electrifying theatrics of his opponent’s kickoff, there was an interesting cross-section of attendees – with […]

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