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 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.