Did you know, gentle reader, that if a person speaks publicly of their plans to run for political office, Washington state law requires that they register - and then follow certain rules of behavior and such? Therefore, those who are savvy and able to plan for the future keep quiet about their plans. When I hear of someone considering seeking an office, I actually do that person a disservice by calling them to confirm or deny because it forces them - if they do plan to run - to lie so as not be be in violation of the law and subject to investigation, hearings, and fines. This law is, in my opinion, very much in violation of our state and national constitutions - but has not yet been tested in the courts.
So, I try to be careful about whom I talk to, how I reference sources, and I make every effort to protect our normal constitutional rights in discussing all things political. I know the law has good intentions - tracking early donations that would otherwise be off the books - but the results are onerous and suffocating.
There will be - as of Nov 28 when the election is certified - a vacancy on the Whatcom County Council. Todd Donovan is leaving his seat with two years remaining, having won a new seat in the new District 2. As such, the council will have a chance to appoint a replacement for his unexpired term. Natalie McClendon is seeking the appointment and has support from some council members, including Todd Donovan. She also plans to run for election to the council at the next opportunity. McClendon has been a leader in the Whatcom County Democratic Party for many years.
In November 2019, we will elect a new mayor. We all now (“we” being local political junkies) are convinced that Kelli Linville will not run for a third term as mayor. She will retire from politics after a long career.
Who will run is quickly sorting out. To cut to the chase, council members Gene Knutson, Michael Lilliquist, Roxanne Murphy and Dan Hammill are all planning or thinking about it. Knutson and Lilliquist are running for sure, with Murphy talking to others in hopes of finding support, and Hammill is still thinking about it. Also running will be - you guessed it - Seth Fleetwood. Fleetwood has held several local elected offices in past years, although currently is a private citizen since being defeated last year by Doug Ericksen for the state Senate seat.
A fifth member of the City Council, Pinky Vargas, plans to run for state Senate from the 42nd district - yes, Doug Ericksen’s seat. So too, is Michael McAuley, who did not run for reelection to the Port of Bellingham. I have no idea if Ericksen will run again.
Of course, in posting this, I am inviting comments. Our community should be able to openly discuss all these people. They are in the public arena by their own choice. They seek to be elected to represent us, lead us, and make the laws that govern us, all very basic democratic concepts. And if any potential candidates do contact me - whether those above or any I do not know about - I will be most discreet with what I learn. It is sad that we in the U.S. have to be afraid of speaking publicly about public issues, but that is a result of laws enacted by our past elected representatives. Maybe someone can enlighten readers on the deeper reasons a past legislature would enact a law requiring those who plan to file for office to register like they were foreign agents.