Posted by: sweeneyblog | February 24, 2015

BREAKING: Jack Weiss to Retire, Candidates Loom in the Wings

Bellingham City Council Wards

Bellingham City Council Wards

It is official: after two terms as a city councilman from Ward 1, Jack Weiss has decided not to run for reelection. Since 2007, when Weiss was elected, he has provided a strong and consistent voice for oversight, specifically around the redevelopment of the waterfront, and his passion for environmentalism and ethical government will be missed.

Ward 1 is an odd district. It covers the venerable Columbia neighborhood, the rapidly infill-ing Birchwood neighborhood,  and the newly constructed Cordata neighborhood. It includes Whatcom Community College, the growing commercial space west of Guide-Meridian, and an abandoned coal mine beneath its residents. Out of this area, two candidates have begun to emerge:

April Barker

April Barker

April Barker is a para-educator at Birchwood Elementary. She is also the current president of the Birchwood Neighborhood Association. Last year, she spoke before the City Council advocating a proposal that would create a 3-acre public open space site dedicated to recreation, urban food production, education and off-street walking near the traditional center of the Birchwood neighborhood and within 250 feet of Birchwood Elementary School.

Her previous political involvement includes organizing a town hall meeting about Bellingham airport noise issues – bringing both sides to attendance and maintaining the neighborhood’s neutral stance on the issue. She has no record of political donations that I could find.

Steve Crooks

Steve Crooks

Steve Crooks has also expressed interest. Currently, he is on the Planning Commission and is the former president of the Cordata Neighborhood Association and a veteran of the Vietnam War. Professionally, he was responsible for handling eminent domain and zoning appeal cases for BP Exploration Oil’s retail and distribution sites. He served as BP’s information officer for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill response team in the summer of 2010.

As a planning commissioner, he spoke out against raising downtown parking rates in a recent Bellingham Herald article. “‘You’re going to take those areas and raise the parking prices, when we want more people to come downtown?’ commissioner Steve Crooks said. ‘It sounds like you’re trying to soak people.'”

In terms of political involvement, he has donated $280 to the Whatcom Republicans and $100 to Kelli Linville when she ran for mayor in 2011.

The only other candidate I have heard mentioned is Clayton Petree. Since losing in Ward 4 to Pinky Vargas, Petree has since relocated to Ward 1 and has expressed mild interest in running this year.



  1. is there a more detailed boundary map? Trying to see if the ward 1 boundary is on West St or Cherry St (and presumably Monroe)

  2. i am distracted that there would be an “airport noise issue” with a town hall meeting. Was this in 1940? Because… ever since then, anyone moving into (or remaining in) the area would be clearly aware that there is an airport there. If you want to live next to an airport, it will sound like an airport.

    This reminds me of when people move into cute little condos is bustling downtown and then complain about nightclub noise.

    • There is a 24/7 noise ordinance in Bellingham. Regardless where one chooses to live, the default notion is that there should be no noise. There is the idea of the right to “quiet enjoyment”. Booming music venues and screaming pub louts are not excused.

      The airport is another issue primarily because it is substantially out of local control and landing patterns can shift bringing noise to areas that were not previously affected.

      • Quibble warning:

        Not quite true, Dick. The default is that there should be little noise, so that neighbors are not unreasonably disturbed in their peace. This is more than “no noise,” but it’s difficult to say how much noise is “unreasonable.” That’s the down side to a reasonableness standard. The up side is that it accommodates flexibility: more noise during day than during night is reasonable, more noise downtown than in residential area is reasonable, more noise near airport is reasonable within limits, etc.

  3. Is Jack in County District 3? He must be durn close. Port commission, port commission, port commission, port commission….

    • He does live in County Council District 3.

  4. Riley,
    In the “for what it’s worth department”, I met with Jack tonight and he said you did not contact him to confirm that he’s not seeking re-election. He was not surprised but I was. I expected you to check your sources and Jack is very available.
    Lastly, I would like to personally thank Jack for walking his talk. I served several years on Greenways, and six years on the City Council and Jack does his homework and stops at nothing to push for what he thinks is right. He’s been a great public servant and we owe him a huge debt of gratitude. Jack and I didn’t always agree on specific issues and I will always respect and appreciate his friendship. Jack would be great on the Port Commission.

    • I let Stan know but for everyone else, I had this story on good authority, although I wish I had had the time to get a quote from Jack before publishing.

      • Wayne, the Bellingham Fact Checker, Farber has you in his sights.

  5. Noooooooo!!! Thanks, Mr, Weiss, for your service. May your consistently well-informed challenges of business-as-usual be an inspiration for councilors now and into the future. Your insight will be missed.

    Eli Mackiewicz, constituent.

  6. Yet another voice expressing disappointment if Jack does, indeed, decide against running again. His service was appreciated and he will be missed!

  7. A true loss, but not a surprise. I will always hold Jack in high esteem for civilly fighting the good fight on the waterfront. But, it must be very wearing on somebody to fight City Hall and his friends on the Council on behalf of City taxpayers and for those who value environment over taxpayer-subsidized development. Jack would indeed make an excellent Port Commissioner . My hope when I heard of the announcement, however, was that he would run for Mayor. The best way to fight City Hall is to be City Hall.

    • Over 40,000 citizen renters can thank Jack for pushing for rental inspections. Starting next January the health and safety of renters will be paramount thus ending decades of “take your chances” renting.

  8. And, it would be great to see Clayton run again. Agree with him or not on some of the issues, his opinions are studied ones. He is a remarkably well-informed young man on the issues confronting our City.

    • Indeed. I supported Clayton in the last election. Not only does he know the issues but he is responsive to voters.

      • Thanks for the support, I appreciate it very much.

  9. […] Meanwhile, City Councilman Jack Weiss provided some more context on his decision not to seek reelection. […]

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