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 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 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.