Candidate Filings - Wed Update + Fri final

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One more note (10pm): The Belllingham Herald has an online article noting Barbara Brenner has withdrawn. The Herald incorrectly says she represents the 4th District. She actually represents the old District 3B seat. No one has yet to represent the 4th District, as we are still in transition since 2016 from the old system to the new redistricted county. After this election in November, we will be completely on the new system. Sadly, this is the very first Herald article on candidates filing. Not a single word in the past week about candidate filing. Nada. But lots this past week about the live concert this weekend. There is more. The very short article also says that Kathy Kershner and Brad Kelly have filed for the 4th District seat - and the Herald leaves off Brian Estes who also filed for this seat. Little in the article is accurate. It even says filing ends “...4:30 p.m. Friday, May 18” when today, Friday, is the 17th. Fact checking seems to have disappeared from the Herald. There is more, but I’ll stop now.

7 pm Fri, May 17 - final update

No drama or fireworks in the closing half hour of candidate filings. Barbara Brenner did not file for office, effectively signaling that she will retire from our county council at the end of this year, marking 28 years service. The only candidate to file after 4 pm in the Auditor’s office was Robert Pinkley, who became the 5th candidate for Ferndale mayor.

Sweet to me and I am sure to many, is all four Bellingham council races have at least two candidates. In the recent past, many seats were filled with one person filing. Two of the contests will include a primary. One term incumbent Dan Hamill has two challengers, Ashanti Monts-Treviska and Raymond Straka. The At-Large seat, being vacated by Hannah Stone (who is running for Ward 1, which is being vacated by April Barker running for mayor) will have four candidates.

There are 9 new candidates for Bellingham council, and three of them applied for the At-Large seat last September when the council picked Stone. It is good to see them running for election to the council. They are Hollie Huthman and Dana Briggs for At-Large and Lisa Anderson for the Ward 5 seat being vacated by retiring Terry Borneman. Just a couple years ago 4 council seats were up for election and only one candidate per seat filed. Zero public campaigning. So good to see strong civic interest in running for elective office.

Surprises - of note.

Joy Gilfilen has filed for Sheriff, challenging long serving Bill Elfo. I am delighted as she now has a soapbox to push issues at the Sheriff. There is much that needs public discussion.

Rud Browne has filed very late this afternoon to be the sixth candidate for the 40th state legislative district, challenging incumbent Liz Lovelett. This is the seat he was not appointed to last year when it became open and that he pouted about in public. Rud has two years left on his county council term. He obviously is looking to Olympia for his future. Go Liz.

Brett Bonner filed for the county At-large, making four candidates for this open seat. The Republicans worked hard for over a year to convince Barbara Brenner to run for this as part of their plan to regain control of the county council. The two front runners for this are now Brett and Carol Frazey, a Democrat.

Gentle reader, that is it for today. Dinner is being served. We hope to provide good campaign coverage for you over the next six months.

5:00 pm Fri, May 17

46 more people have filed for office today.

9:00am Fri, May 17

Since posting Thur afternoon, I am getting more information. Barbara Brenner may well not file for At-Large. She may be retiring. And there are at least two waiting games in progress for seats, that is, one person waiting to file if another person does not file. I post this for three reasons. First, this is for potential candidates - of left or right - more than it is for fellow citizens. Second, if you are pondering whether or not to file, please know that several others are doing the same and also planning late filings this afternoon. Third and most important - County Auditor Debbie Adelstein has strict rules in place to avoid chaos at the filing counter in the minutes before the 4:30 pm filing deadline. So read her rules now - posted on her Auditor webpage. To wit - you can file via computer from home or anywhere up to 4 pm only. After and until filing close at 4:30 pm, you can only file from the computer on the counter in the auditor’s office. Not posted, but important, is that in recent years she has also locked the door at 4pm, allowing in only those who said they were definitely going to file for office. This has pushed the ‘who’s on first’ game into the hallway where it is harder to play. (Well, once she also let in a young couple at 4:15 who wanted to buy a marriage license. That touched the political junkies milling around in the hallway.)

Auditor running list of candidate filings. This is live and instant updating, but you need to refresh to see latest results.

2:20pm Thur, May 16

Tony Larson filed for County Executive Wednesday afternoon. He is a Republican and joins Democrats, Satpal Sidhu and Karen Burke, in the contest. This will be a highly competitive campaign. Karen is running for her first elective office, while Satpal and Tony have served on the Whatcom County Council. The Republicans are very determined to hold on to the executive seat with just one candidate, Tony. Current County Executive Jack Louws is considered a Republican or conservative (they play games with labels). Karen is being coached by Lisa McShane who has a very winning record with her candidates in past years. This race will be very high profile going into the August 6 primary.

Barbara Brenner withdrew her filing for District 4 on the County Council this morning, Thursday, May 16. Shortly after, Kathy Kerschner filed for the District 4 seat. On Monday, May 13, the Lynden Tribune reported that Kathy planned to file. In talking to Kathy today, she said, “Barbara served our community for 28 years on the council. She leaves quite a legacy of service that I hope to honor if elected.” Indeed, the 4th District encompasses Lynden and the conservative farmland of the north county and thus a safe seat for Republicans. This will be the first District 4 election, as this district was created in the 2016 redistricting.

So, what is happening? Is Barbara Brenner retiring after 28 years on the County Council? Did Kathy Kerschner scare her off? Probably not. The Republicans have been trying for months to convince Barbara to run for the At-Large position as she is a proven winner in county wide elections. They want to prevent a progressive or Democrat, like Carol Frazey who has filed for At-Large, to gain a seat on the council. So, I think we can expect Barbara to file for the At-Large today or Friday. Normal political maneuvering would dictate a late 4 p.m. filing on Friday to keep the plan quiet. As of posting this, Barbara has not returned my phone call. Of course not.

​Ben Elenbaas has filed for the Whatcom County Council seat for District 5 - the Coastal district with Ferndale and Blaine. We knew he would run but he left it open whether he would file for the At Large or the district. He goes against two Democrats, Natalie McClendon and Jaime Arnett. There is no incumbent as this is a new district created two years ago when district-only voting also started. Only those living in District 5 will vote in the primary and the general election for the council member from this district. Ben is a well known, very conservative politician. He was a strong presence on the charter review board in 2015. He will be favored to win this seat.

The Republicans are making a strong effort to get strong candidates elected in District 5 and At-Large. If they can, they will take control of the County Council from the progressives. They know they have District 4, the newly created district. All this is a play out of the redistricting of 3 years ago. After that was completed, I had off-the-record interviews with knowledgeable players from both sides - R and D. Each told me how they snookered the other side and had gained the victory in redistricting that would enable them to gain permanent control of the County Council. So this filing week is very important to the future of our council, as incumbents are very hard to dislodge.

To follow the filings live, here is the the Auditor election filing page link. It updates during the day as candidates file. And as they withdraw. The game will play out until 4:30 pm Friday when filing ends. After that, candidates can still withdraw, and we can expect at least one to do so.

In closing this little update, the tip-off that the game was in play was when Ben filed for District 5 and not the At-Large. Now, it is unfolding per plan. Barbara now will file for the At-Large position. I am going with this prediction so that other possible candidates can consider filing and make any of these elections into primary elections - thus giving voters more time to learn who they actually want to represent them. For instance, in District 4, Brad Kelly and Kathy Kershner are both Republicans. Progressive or Democrats may not have filed because Barbara Brenner is such a winner. Her fake into District 4 has worked - so far.

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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 [...]