Candidate Filing Week is Here – It’s About to Get Real.

• Topics: Elections,

According to several reliable sources in local conservative politics, Tony Larson will likely file for Whatcom County Executive this week. Tony would not accept nor return my phone calls this past week, as is his prerogative. The Republicans have had a worrying spring trying to find a candidate to run for the executive office, and it seems Tony is their third or fourth choice. If he files, he will create a primary election between himself and two Democrats, Karen Burke and Satpal Sidhu. Expect it.

Karen Burke, a Democrat, is running for county executive and is a first time candidate for any office. I interviewed her, with her campaign manager Cheyanna Strickland. This is Karen’s first time running for elective office. She told me that Lisa McShane recruited her and is a paid advisor on her campaign. I asked Karen why Lisa does not show up on her campaign reports and she told me those would be filed later. This was several weeks ago, so now it becomes a question of exactly what role Lisa is playing.

Satpal Sidhu is without question the most qualified for the executive office of our county. He is on the county council and has been very active in local issues and organizations. He is considered progressive by most but also seen as someone who works well with conservatives. Karen and Tony have never worked for county government nor served in elective office. Corrected 5/13: Tony was elected to the county council in Nov 2010 to serve out a vacated term for the year 2011. But then, election trends lately suggest being qualified is a minor issue, as political parties and operatives seek to maximize divisive and irrelevant issues in campaigns.

With both the county executive and Bellingham mayor incumbents retiring, the races are open to new candidates. This points to a strong effort by the Whatcom Republican Party to make a major push for both offices. Although the mayor and county executive are technically non-partisan positions, nobody - not even high school civics teachers - believes that. The Republicans are very disciplined this year. They are allowing only one candidate to run for each office, with the intention of making it into the November general election with both candidates.

For mayor of Bellingham, we have five candidates, with the Republicans again putting their hopes in one person, Garrett O’Brien. He currently serves on the city’s planning commission. Garrett goes up against three strong Democrats in April Barker, Pinky Vargas and Seth Fleetwood. Michael Lilliquist decided in April not to run for the office, after a couple years of planning to run. My article in December on mayoral candidates got most of the candidates right and has more info on this race.

The filings start tomorrow morning, Monday, May 13 and end on Friday, May 17 at 4:30 pm. We will try to keep you informed.

About John Servais

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Fairhaven, Washington USA • Member since Feb 26, 2008

John started Northwest Citizen in 1995 to inform fellow citizens of serious local political issues that the Bellingham Herald was ignoring. With the help of donors from the beginning, he has [...]

Comments by Readers

Bill Geyer

May 13, 2019

John, correction, Tony Larson served on the Whatcom County Council.   You may want to reflect on your endorsement of Tony in your June 9, 2011 article on NWCitizen.  Thanks.


John Servais

May 13, 2019

Bill, thanks.  Tony did serve on the council for the year 2011.  He was elected in Nov 2010 to fill out the final year of Bob Kelly’s four year term.  He ran for the full term in Nov 2011 but was defeated by Pete Kremen, who came out of retirement just to take out Tony.  Pete then ran a nasty and dirty campaign.  I endorsed Tony for the council seat in Nov 2011.  My old man’s brain is not as sharp as once and I forgot about that time.  I have entered the correction above in the article. 


Bill Geyer

May 13, 2019

Thanks, John!  Appreciate the extra reporting.  Kudos to the NWCitizen digital files :-)


jim peterson

May 14, 2019

Garrett OBrian is not a republicain he is an independent. In my opinion the best choice for mayor unless people just want more of the same 

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