Michael Lilliquist was elected president of the Bellingham City Council by a 7 to 0 vote today. Today’s meeting was the annual organizational meeting where members make adjustments to leadership positions. Gene Knutson nominated Lilliquist and reportedly worked before today’s meeting to see that the other council members would support him. This choice of him for the leadership position is long overdue.
Lilliquist is in his 8th year on the council and this is the first time he has been elected president. He is known as one of the hardest working council members and is always fully prepared for all issues at council meetings. This work ethic of his has been perceived as one of the reasons others on the council have refused him the honor of the leadership, even while voting it to newcomers who barely understood council procedures in recent years. His preparedness has been awkward for some council members, to put it politely.
His second 4 year term on the council will be up at the end of this year, and it is expected that he will run for a third term. He represents the 6th Ward, the southside of Bellingham. There are no known potential candidates to challenge him at this time. Some have speculated that he has an eye on running for mayor, but the next mayoral election will not be until 3 years from now in November 2019.
This coming November will see four seats on the city council up for reelection. Gene Knutson of the 2nd Ward has announced his intention to run again. Gene was expected to not run and has said so for the past couple years. However, he explained in an email to friends that after several surgeries his back is now fine and he can continue. He has often said he very much enjoys serving on the council. He is the longest serving current council member, now serving his 24th year, or 6th term, having been first elected in November 1993.
The other two council seats up next November are the 4th Ward with first term member Pinky Vargas, and the At Large with 2nd term member Roxanne Murphy. At Large is a two year term, so both Vargas and Murphy are in their 4th years on the council. Both are expected to run again.