Hardly grass roots. Chanan Suarez does not have broad local support in the race for Ward 5. He has raised an equal amount of campaign funds as his opponent, Lisa Anderson, but only by going outside of Bellingham to fund his campaign. Not illegal but demonstrative.
A phenomenal 72% of Chanan’s donations are from outside Bellingham, with most from Seattle, Olympia and Bellevue with the odd Chicago and Brooklyn. Only 28% of Chanan Suarez’s donations are from Bellingham city residents, as reported to the Public Disclosure Commission as of October 8th. Unfortunately for him, a large chunk of his donors do not get to vote here. A full 81% of Lisa Anderson’s donations come from within the city of Bellingham demonstrating the broad local support for a candidate with decades of local, hands-on experience. [See files below for campaign contribution lists by city and state for both candidates]
Chanan has been in Bellingham for 6 years and, although he claims to want to change Bellingham for the better, until this election year I have never seen this candidate at any city council or planning commission meeting. Never have I seen him at the Mayor’s Neighborhood Advisory Commission to which I have been a representative for longer than Chanan has been in Bellingham. He was a student at WWU during the final years of the fight for an ordinance requiring registration and inspections of rentals. As a student and presumable renter, himself, where was he during this community-based action? Don’t know. Never saw him.
In contrast, Lisa Anderson has been heavily involved in neighborhood issues over the last three decades with service on the York Neighborhood Board as its President and four years on the Bellingham Planning Commission. She was the driving force to effect the condemnation and eventual razing of the drug-ridden and contaminated Aloha Motel on Samish Way. That site, being developed now by the Bellingham Housing Authority*, will be used for affordable housing and housing for seniors.
Chanan’s website indicates he was “asked” to run for city council. By whom? Where is this grass roots support shown in his funding? Upon being “asked” did it then dawned on him that this was “an opportunity to be a part of building a strong, bottom-up movement in Bellingham for a working-class politics that fights for justice for all”? How bottom up is your movement if the main support comes from outside the city? Nice sentiments but demonstrated experience in and support from the community are predictors for future success in the day to day work of legislating.
Note: See also letter below on the same topic to the Bellingham Herald editor of October 13th from Bellingham Resident, Abe Jacobson.
*The initial version of this article referred to the Opportunity Council. This reference was in error.