Posted by: sweeneyblog | July 24, 2013

Riley Endorses in the Primary

Hello Loyal Readers,

By this time, theoretically, you should have received your primary ballot. Your pitifully small primary ballot. This year, there is no county-wide primary. With such a big rumble brewing over the Gateway Pacific Terminal and the upcoming jail, only a select few citizens stepped forward to run for County Council and port . . . and no more than two for each race, leaving us with a terribly slender primary.

So what is on the ballot? For me, the most interesting race on the primary ballot is the Bellingham City Council, At Large. With Seth Fleetwood’s (maybe temporary?) retirement from public service, there was an open seat available to all residents of Bellingham. Roxanne Murphy, Bob Burr and Allen Brown all jumped in and are on our primary ballot. So how did I come down on this race?  I voted for Bob Burr.

Bob Burr

Bob Burr

Wait a minute, Riley, I thought you were on Roxanne Murphy’s campaign team I am and I am going to be thrilled to vote for Roxanne Murphy this November. I fully support her, she is an incredibly capable, knowledgeable and articulate woman and I know she will make a fantastic councilwoman. So why am I voting for Bob Burr in August?

Bob Burr is a passionate voice for progressive values.  We do not always agree, in fact, we frequently disagree. Loudly. But Burr often elevates the discussion and asks everyone to consider the global implications of local actions. I do not think he would be well-suited for City Council (sorry Bob), that is why I am voting for Roxanne Murphy in November. But I want to see Burr continue on to the general, raising issues for another couple of months.

Final verdict: Vote Bob Burr in August and Roxanne Murphy in November for Bellingham City Council.

John Blethen

John Blethen

Another key race is the Bellingham School Board. The incumbent, Steven Smith, has taken heat for closing Larrabee Elementary, a small but beloved school in the Happy Valley neighborhood. The students are being shuffled off to a larger, newer facility (Wade King Elementary EDIT:  Lowell or Happy Valley Elementary). John Blethen and Hue Beattie are both running against Smith on this issue. Smith says it was necessary for financial reasons, while Blethen and Beattie both contend it reduces walkability and fractures a neighborhood. I agree with them and strongly urge you support John Blethen for school board. Beattie is fantastic and by far, one of the most charming candidates out there, but Blethen brings a fiery passion and firm grasp on the wide range of issues facing the school board.

Final verdict: Vote John Blethen for Bellingham School Board. 

Last little note, there is a race going on up in Blaine where you have three candidates for a single council seat. I haven’t really delved into Blaine politics as much as I should, but I hear great things about Charlie Hawkins.



  1. Riley, I like the way you think!

  2. Thanks Riley.

  3. While I cannot speak to Steve Smith’s decisions on the school board, I had him as a professor at Western Washington University, while he taught one of the more difficult subjects, he made great effort to make school work feel as close as humanly possible to the challenges we would face in the working world. I found Steve Smith to be very level headed and pragmatic.

  4. Stop the Factory School Monsters that would abstract education from community. Choose either Blethan or Beattie. Vote incumbents out in the primary. That sends a message to the rest.

  5. Charlie Hawkins is the best choice for Blaine, speaking as a Blaine resident and a ten-year reporter/photographer for the local newspaper. Charlie’s a voice of reason, sometimes a scarce quantity here – we have a local electorate that has elected posturing crackpots like Jason Overstreet to the council, and have also had a council that blew the chance to have Ken Imus involved in a Blaine renaissance simply by being arrogant. One candidate has had to withdraw from this three-way race, as I get it, because he does not live in the district whose seat he’s running for. Charlie, from an old local family, has done a fine job and should be retained.

  6. I am with Riley, in each of the points he made.

  7. Thanks Riley for writing about local politics. As a current school board member, I do need to set the record strait. When Larrabee closes children will not be sent to Wade King Elementary. Children will attend either Lowell or Happy Valley Elementary. To learn more go the Bellingham Public Schools website;

    • Thank you for that correction – I will update that now.

  8. […] impressive spread of small grassroots donations rounding out her contributions. Just a reminder, I have already and proudly endorsed Roxanne Murphy in this race, she is going to do a phenomenal […]

  9. […] Position 4: Steven Smith. Wait a minute Riley, you endorsed John Blethen in the primary? What happened? Well, I met with Steven Smith and was blown away. This Western business professor […]

  10. […] Position 4: Steven Smith. “Wait a minute Riley, you endorsed John Blethen in the primary? What happened? Well, I met with Steven Smith and was blown away. This Western business professor […]

  11. […] to stop the coal trains. He also ran against Patty Murray in 2010 as a progressive candidate and ran against Roxanne Murphy last year for the city […]

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