Posted by: sweeneyblog | January 29, 2015

Sidhu and Kershner to Apply for Crawford’s Seat

I was all geared up to write an article about Kathy Kershner and Satpal Sidhu’s applications to the County Council, and Ralph Schwartz with the Bellingham Herald beat me to it. Bravo, Ralph! So first go read that, and then consider this a supplemental for all those interested in the insider baseball of this situation.

Make no mistake, the decision will come down to Kershner and Sidhu. There will be a few more that throw their hat in the ring but at the end of the day, these are the heavy weights.

Kershner brings four years of experience on the council but was rejected by the voters in 2013. Central to that election were some pretty brutal votes she cast her first year. She was elected in part by the Tea Party and her early votes to slash domestic violence prevention and funding for the food bank came back to haunt her.

Sidhu brings an impressive resume (Dean of Bellingham Technical College, business owner (The Spice Hut) and investor, Electrical Engineer) and his conservative Democratic perspective served him well in his run in the 42nd legislative district against Van Werven where he outpaced the other two Democrats last year but he did not prevail.

To get the nomination, each candidate has to get four votes or three votes and Jack Louws’ blessing. Here’s why each one may get the nod:

Kathy Kershner and bird

Kathy Kershner and bird

Kathy Kershner will get the seat because . . . Pete Kremen likes her. The Almighty Mustache endorsed her in 2013 over the Democrat in that race (Barry Buchanan) and has been a consistent supporter.

Kershner also has a close working relationship with Ken Mann – when she sat on the council, she was frequently able to pull him over for votes.However, the ugly county council election in 2013 put them in opposite tribes which may have cooled their relationship.

If Kershner manages to pull Mann, Kremen and Brenner, they will deadlock the council which will allow Jack Louws to appoint Kershner.

Satpal Sidhu

Satpal Sidhu

Satpal Sidhu will get the seat because . . . the council is facing some large infrastructure and economic development projects (The New Jail, the Slater Road development, etc) and his engineering experience could be a vital to providing meaningful oversight.

Furthermore, Sidhu would be a big step forward in terms of diversity for a community that has had a difficult and racist history towards the Sikhs. With Rud Browne looking for another business-minded thinker on the council and Barry Buchanan looking to block his former opponent from sitting next to him on the council, it may be a simple manner to convince Carl Weimer and Ken Mann to support Sidhu.

Is it in the bag for one candidate or the other? Of course not. The council will deliberate and take their time. No matter how the appointment turns out, I imagine the final struggle will be at the ballot box this year since whoever gets appointed would immediately have to run for election.



  1. Kathy Kershner gave such a heartfelt and moving good-bye speech
    that it would simply be a shame to make her dig up another one when she loses her re-election bid after a few months as Crawford’s replacement.
    But on the plus side,
    she does seem to share Sam’s disgust at having to listen to citizens during Show and Tell hearings when ‘activists’ say the same old thing
    over and over
    as if it was supposed to mean something to the Leather Chair set.

  2. Kathy and Satpal may be heavy weights but don’t you think it’s a bit early since the rest of District Two just found out about this abrupt departure by Sam? I hope that this isn’t a slam dunk and that other local leaders will step up to serve in this capacity. After the last time this came up at the county and the council became deadlocked many of them were really furious when the Executive appointed Ward Nelson to the seat, I expect they will be very motivated to make this selection as a council.
    Interesting that Sam is headed to WA DC after his final council meeting. Not sure how the county benefits from sending him as a particularly lame duck. I would expect that any other council member would be a better choice.

    • He is resigning effective March 1. I think that there is a meeting on February 24 (if the every two week pattern is continued)… won’t he be there?

  3. The County Council who will appoint a replacement for Sam Crawford’s vacated council seat should strongly consider this fact about Kathy Kershner who has announced her intent to apply for that vacated seat:

    In 2013, when Kathy Kershner was a Whatcom County Councilmember and Chair of the Council, she sent a September 13, 2013 letter to the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency, asking them to drop the lawsuit they filed in 2013 against Rader Farms in Lynden, stemming from Rader Farms illegally clearing Category 1 wetlands in 2005, without getting a permit or submitting a plan to Whatcom County.

    Ms. Kershner wrote, “this direct action against Rader Farms, Inc. is part of a long list of roadblocks that government agencies have put up that stop jobless residents in Whatcom County from having the chance to pay their bills and feed their children.” Ms. Kershner also wrote, “Unnecessary and senseless regulation is an insidious job killer”, and she called the lawsuit “inflammatory.”

    Ms. Kershner told agencies which are entrusted to keep our environment protected and our water and air safe, not to do
    so. And, she used jobs as a justification for ignoring regulations and law. Jobs will come and go, but we only get one environment.

    Ms. Kershner’s opening line of her letter (written on her council letterhead), started with these words: “As Chair of the Whatcom County Council.” By Ms. Kershner stating that, I believe it gave the letter recipients an implied understanding that she was speaking for the county council, especially because she never states in the letter that she was not speaking for them.

    Ms. Kershner showed great disregard for our environment in thinking jobs trump
    everything. . .even our health and safety, and she tried to use her County Council position and political influence when she asked the DOJ and EPA to disregard the law.

  4. Thanks for the nod, Riley. The old dog finds the bone every once in a while.

    • Bone? And I thought Riley was a vegan.

      • Hardly

  5. Right on Mr. Snapp!!!!! Let the process play out there should be “NO” favorites at all. This seat belongs to the citizens of Whatcom County
    not the political parties or anybody else. I hope the council will give
    all that apply a good hard look.

  6. So Kathy Kershner, running as an incumbent, lost to a challenger on Nov. 5, 2013, just a little over a year ago (~15 months). Obviously the majority of voters in Whatcom County wanted her out. Why is she even being considered?

  7. I’m sure more people will apply. And I don’t think that the 2013 election will play much of a roll in the council decision making.

    • Unfortunately, you are probably right James.

  8. I like Kathy Kershner, she’s always been very nice. I appreciated her support of the reconveyence. I recall a vote against the food bank because they didn’t show up to explain why they wanted funding at a committee meeting. Actually, I was sitting in the audience during that committee meeting. I appreciate that stance. Folks thinking that requests for funding are simple handouts is a bad process to me. We should encourage groups seeking funding to come speak at these meetings, on the record. It helps the community understand the requests better.

    But I’d love to see some new folks step up and become part of the process. While I will totally wait for the full process to see who else applies, it would be pretty great to see Satpal appointed, based on the candidate pool I’m aware of now.

    I sat through a planning commission meeting recently where many, many of the Sikh community came out to speak to us. It was great to see that participation and it was very clear to me that they are an underrepresented group locally. I’d love for us to be able to encourage them to participate more. I think Satpal’s volunteerism will help that. Seeing the Sikh community come out in full force during the Ski to Sea parade has always been one of my favorite things and I love being able to share that with my children. We need to understand those differing cultures. The pamphlet they hand out is very well done and has a strong message of peace and respect for all. I think Satpal brings that demeanor with him to his endeavors.

  9. Two genuinely nice people here, neither of whom places environmental stewardship high. Will be interesting to watch.

  10. […] twenty-four hours later, Monjure’s fellow legislative candidate, Satpal Sidhu was appointed to the County Council to fill out the remainder of Sam Crawford’s term. This appointment is historic as Sidhu will […]

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