Long-time conservative county councilman Sam Crawford submitted a letter of resignation last night saying that he will resign March 1st. In the letter, he explains, “due to an unanticipated retirement of a co-worker at my workplace (Westside Building Supply in Lynden), my plans have been altered significantly by the opportunities and needs of the business that exist at this time.”
Crawford has been chased by ethical complaints for several years now, much of it stemming from his work with developers creating a conflict of interest as a councilman. He has tried to explain away the issues (see here and here) but his last election was a nailbiter, with Christina Maginnis almost unseating the long-time incumbent.
This year, it was rumored that local businessman and former candidate Satpal Sidhu was considering a run for the seat. Crawford, having just watched another popular Democratic businessman steamroll his seatmate (Rud Browne versus Bill Knutzen), Crawford may have just decided to take the path of least resistance.
The vacancy will be filled by the County Council, unless they are deadlocked (3-3) and in that case it falls to the County Executive to decide. Last time this happened, it set off a huge ethical complaint when outgoing council member Ward Nelson stonewalled all the potential nominees for the vacancy created by Bob Kelly’s resignation.
He then persuaded then county executive Pete Kremen to appoint Ward Nelson to fill out the remainder of the term. Unethical? Sure looked that way but the Whatcom Ethics Commission took a look at it and decided to clear Ward Nelson of any wrongdoing.
Who was sitting on the Ethics commission at that time? Future councilmember Rud Browne. Sam Crawford then tried to cover the council’s tracks by pushing for an ordinance that would legitimize Nelson’s stonewalling after the fact. Now, Kremen, Crawford and Browne are all on the council having to decide what to do about Crawford’s replacement. We call this situation . . . living in a small town.
Crawford also generated some friction among his own tribe when he was a vocal supporter of the Lake Whatcom Reconveyance. Many speculated that this was part of the Kremen/Nelson deal, that Crawford’s support for this was key but Crawford insisted that the reconveyance was simply, “a good deal”. It passed 5-2. The other conservative that supported the reconveyance, Kathy Kershner, had difficulty fundraising from her usual supporters in 2013 right after that vote.
UPDATE: Ironically enough, Kathy Kershner is considering running for the seat. She recently relocated to Lynden (the 2nd district) and told Council Chair Carl Weimer that she is interested in applying/running.
Back to the story at hand, most likely councilmembers will ask for a placeholder. Which means we have yet another series of applicants.