Candidates, Campaigns & Confabs

Byy On

Political commentary serves very legitimate purposes. By exposing the behind the scenes maneuvers of political operatives, it helps citizens and potential candidates to question motives and agendas.

This website has been about political commentary since 1995. It is one of the oldest political “blogs” anywhere. I started this because the Bellingham Herald kept an iron grip on what was or was not news in this county. Its editors suppressed legitimate information and worked with the political powers too much. One of the first things this site exposed was the secret expansion plans of WWU - and those plans were eventually stopped because the public learned about them.

As publisher of the Whatcom Independent, I wrote a series of 31 weekly columns in 2005 titled “Candidates, Campaigns & Confabs” which exposed a lot of the behind the scenes action. It started in April and ended with a wrap up after the election in November. It tried to let the citizens know what the political insiders were doing. This was built on insider information - and was time honored political commentary and speculation.

Of course the powerful political bosses hate our letting the public know what is happening. It cripples their game plans. Lately there has been an effort to back NwCitizen off from reporting the inside information. While I don’t subscribe to Greg’s speculation on personal motivations, I do appreciate his efforts to inform us about what is developing behind the scenes and expose political motives. Greg is one of twelve writers at this site and he can write what he wants anytime he wants. That is what this site is all about.

I have my own sources. Here is a bit of an explanation of what is happening as we can best piece it together.

Seth Fleetwood was elected to the county council in 2001 with Lisa McShane as his campaign director. In 2005 he ran without her help and almost did not win. Then in 2007 he dared to run for mayor in opposition to Dan McShane and, after being eliminated in the primary, he endorsed Dan Pike for mayor. Well, Seth got the word that he would probably not get the support this year for county council reelection run from his normal Democratic Party sources. Lisa is the power behind the local Ds. So Seth moved over to the city council at-large contest - which was acceptable.

Laurie Caskey-Schreiber also first won in 2001 and again in 2005 with Lisa as her campaign manager. The two are close friends. Laurie has a problem winning this year in the primary in the 2nd District. That is why she decided to not run. Ahh, but Lisa moved Seth out of the at-large. And WWU, Laurie’s employer, is facing a possible 25% cut in state funds and her job could be on the line. It is a legitimate consideration for her to change her mind as she, like all of us, needs an income. She is a committed representative and has strong support throughout the county. And she can probably win a county wide primary election. So, she files for the county at-large.

Which leaves us with Dan. What Greg has been trying to tell you, in his own way, is that behind the scenes is an effort to keep any Democrat or progressive from filing for the 1st District county council seat that Ward Nelson is retiring from. Why? Because Dan McShane will file for it and they want to avoid a primary. Dan just happened to run into Sam Taylor at the courthouse and, yes, he reluctantly admitted there was just a very slight chance he would file for the 1st. Sigh. Gentle reader, leaking your possible intention is the time honored way of backing off other possible candidates.

If you are progressive and want to win in the 1st, then you need liberal support and Democratic Party money and endorsement. With Lisa influencing both, and with her being the most successful campaign manager in the county, you think long and hard and decide it is not worth trying this year. Besides, the seat will be open in two years if Dan is elected county executive - and you can run then.

Is this all the factual story? It appears to be from multiple sources. I had the info on Seth and Laurie and Louise before any of them declared. What can be done with this information? I would like to encourage any potential candidates - liberal or conservative - to go for it. There are 5 open seats and we citizens need to be able to choose from a decent selection of candidates. This website will do its best to give all candidates an equal chance at running good campaigns. We will not be backed off.

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

Tom Pratum

Apr 14, 2009

Thank you for writing this - it is well written and says what needs to be said. It is very sad that the McShanes are in such control of the process in Whatcom County, but they have worked hard to get there.

About 25 years ago I met someone down in the Bay Area where I was going to school at the time who told me he ran for mayor of Bellingham back in the 1960’s when “just a few people could control the whole process”. I guess things haven’t changed much…...


Doug Karlberg

Apr 15, 2009

Musical chairs, or rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, both are appropriate descriptions of our local politics.

A controlled process that is producing fewer and fewer results, trickling down to the street level.

Movement, is not the same as results.

What is our course and destination, Captain?

To comment, Log In or Register