From the Political Junkie: Riley’s Voting Guide

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Hello Loyal Readers,

I was very tempted to share my personal choices for the primary election this year, but several factors make that difficult. A coworker of mine with the Whatcom Dems, the incredible Steve Schuck, often refers to me as "Bartholomew" after the Dr. Suess story (pictured below) because of the many different roles I play in local politics. For instance:

  • I am the Communications Chair of the Whatcom Democrats. That means I sit on their E-Board, and write a good chunk of the newsletter and weekly announcements. This leads some people to think that when I talk it has extra weight or I'm speaking for the Democrats locally. I'm not. The only person empowered to do that is our chair, Natalie McClendon (note: she's the one on the left.) However, this does lead to some confusion among people, so I frequently have to be careful about what I say.
  • I am also the Campaign Manager for Pete Kremen as he runs for County Council, and he has asked me to keep a low profile on some issues. He wants to make sure that my personal choices are not souring people on his candidacy, something I completely understand and support. How would it look for him to support one person, while his campaign manager supports another? Very awkward.
  • Finally, I have working relationships with various candidates, interest groups, campaign managers, media outlets and politicians around the county, and I want to preserve those relationships as much as is reasonable so I can continue to be involved moving forward. Already, I've gotten concerned emails and blowback for speaking positively of some candidates that others dislike.

With that in mind, it makes it very tricky for me to speak strongly for or against some candidates, especially in the primary races where you have choices between similar Democrats. I've made one endorsement (you can read it here) and support a couple of initiatives for the general (here and here,) but for the most part, I've tried to keep quiet because of all these conflicting hats.

However, because I write about local politics and there aren't many sources for Whatcom County news, I am getting lots of Google hits as people try to figure out how to vote. With that in mind, I give you some recommended reading to help you sort out how you want to vote in the three races on the primary ballot. I'm going to include some bare bones info about each candidate and then send you some links to read further on your own so you can make up your own mind.

County Executive


David Stalheim,
a Democrat from Bellingham. Currently works as a grant writer for the City of Bellingham and is the former planning director of Whatcom County. To learn more about him, might I recommend a letter written in support of his candidacy by my former boss and resident smart person, Jean Melious here. You can read David and Jean's blog, Get Whatcom Planning here. Finally, might I suggest a profile that Cascadia Weekly did here.

Tom Anderson, a self-described Independent from just outside the city limits. Tom managed the Public Utilities District for ten EDIT: sixteen years, and was very involved in Transition Whatcom which addressed global warming issues. Might I recommend a fine profile the Cascadia Weekly did here.

Jack Louws, a conservative and former mayor of Lynden. You might remember him from my previous post where he won the dessert contest at the Dem's Picnic, ironically enough. As friend of this blog, Shane Roth said, "My support of desserts knows no political boundaries." Here is a letter in the Herald supporting Louws, and here is the editorial he wrote making his case.

Doug Ericksen, current Republican Senator of the 42nd Legislative District. I'm sorry, I tried to find something nice for Doug, but really these two moments best define his character. First, he tried to arrest my friend Shane Roth for videotaping his public town hall meeting. You can read a full account of Doug Ericksen's actions here. Second, when asked a question about gay rights and women's health at a recent forum, Doug berated the asker and refused to answer the question. You can find that covered here.

County Sheriff

Bill Elfo, our current sheriff of the last eight years is running for re-election. He is being challenged by Steve Harris, a detective in his department and former deputy guild president and Bob Taylor, another deputy from inside his office. For this race, I point you to the write-up I did when Harris and Elfo came to the Democrats endorsement meeting here, in which I discuss the two candidates. Also, here is a recent Herald article comparing the three, and their positions on the issues of the sheriff's department. In this race, all three candidates are conservatives, though they might parse that out a bit. I urge everyone to consider not their partisan background but who has the best views for the office of the sheriff.

Mayor of Bellingham


Dan Pike,
current mayor of Bellingham is running for re-election. I have in the past, posted about a disagreement I've had with a line of logic pushed by his supporters (read that here,) and he and I have disagreed over other city issues (namely, his support of Red Light Cameras.) However, some good resources for making a decision about Dan Pike would be his Washington Conservation Voters endorsement here, and my write-up about his debate at the Dems endorsement meeting here

Kelli Linville, former Democratic Representative from the 42nd Legislative District. Here is her statement for the Whatcom Dems newsletter and here is her editorial in the Herald.

Clayton Petree, a local land-use consultant and conservative EDIT: self-described independent. I haven't had as much contact with Clayton as I would like, but he did stop by while I was live-blogging from the courthouse at the last day of filing week. Check out his website here. I hope to have an interview with him posted soon.

Steven Moore, commercial real estate agent in town, very conservative. Check out his announcement here. Endorsed by the local Republicans here.

I think that just about covers it. Like I said, I'm not trying to piss anyone off, just to provide you with the information I am using to make my decision. I think everyone is entitled to their own views and their own votes. I urge everyone to do their research and make the decisions that best fit with their values, even if it is not the conclusion I came to, I will still respect you. The most important thing for you to do is turn in your ballot.

Remember, we are people first and political activists second.

About Riley Sweeney

Citizen Journalist • Member since Aug 10, 2009

Riley Sweeney, raised in the Pacific Northwest, moved to Bellingham during the Bush years, worked on a cross-section of political campaigns during the Obama years, and then fled to the [...]

Comments by Readers

David MacLeod

Aug 03, 2011

Riley, good work on this voting guide. I’m sure many will find it helpful and convenient!

A small correction - Tom Anderson (whom I support) was general manager of the PUD for 16 years, not 10. No one has more knowledge of local water issues, and how to coordinate fair allocation than Tom Anderson.  As an engineer, and having served on the Energy Resource Scarcity task force for the city and county, Tom is also uniquely qualified to address energy concerns - concerns about both securing inputs, and mitigating outputs.  And having grown up on a farm, and having extensive dealing with farmers while with the PUD, Tom is also well positioned to address the special needs of farmers, and protecting the county’s farmland and our food supply as well.

I like what John Watts had to say about Tom:
“An ideal Executive will inspire the confidence of all citizens that County affairs will be managed in a fair, competent and timely fashion, irrespective of political differences. ...we can get so caught up in individual ‘issues’ that we overlook the essential character traits and experience comprehensiveness of the candidates who have volunteered their candidacy! I believe Tom Anderson’s credentials are second to no one in this contest, which is why he is my own preference.”

The other candidate I support is Dan Pike. Although you may quibble with Chuck Robinson over his use of the “Don’t Fire Dan Pike” frame, his reasons for supporting Pike instead of his friend Kelli are compelling (good management and administration).
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/05/13/2014185/likes-linville-but-will-vote-for.html

Tim Douglas’s letter of support for Mayor Pike is also worth reading.
http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/06/30/2083900/believes-pike-gets-tough-decisions.html#disqus_thread

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John Watts

Aug 03, 2011

I do appreciate Mr McLeod’s approval of my endorsement of Tom Anderson.

As far as the Bellingham Mayor’s race, here’s what I blogged earlier in June:
City of Bellingham (Whatcom)
Mayor Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Kelli Linville

Clayton Petree

Daniel V. Pike [incumbent]

Steve Moore

Now here’s an interesting race, with two clear front-runners and two also rans.
Despite my strong support for Pike 4 years ago, this time I favor Linville, based upon her years of unusually productive service in the State Legislature representing the difficult 42nd District in northern Whatcom County. Kelli has much favorable history here and has a woman’s light touch, which enables her to bring diverse views together and come up with reasonable resolutions to problems that most folks willingly accept. I like that, and I also like the numerous contacts she has developed on both sides of the political aisle throughout Washington, including our elected Federal officials. These relationships are increasingly important in these days of fiscal difficulty. I believe the Office of Mayor fits her well in this community, and wish her well.

Dan Pike, as a political newbie, has done a very credible job amid really hard budget times, and is to be commended for that. On the other hand, he’s made far too many ‘commitments’ -or what folks thought sounded like commitments- than he has been able to deliver. His management style is forceful and sometimes ego-centric, which can invite opposition at times where it is not needed. The drastic budget cuts made during his administration have been as necessary as they were bold, but understandably have also caused pain. exacerbated somewhat by his sometimes aloof, detached behavior toward City staff. And, he has had some real difficulty in his relations with the City Council. One could chalk these impressions up to political naivete, but that may not be the entire explanation. Pike seems talkative, bright, ambitious and sometimes overly self-serving, all of which can spell trouble for politicians if they are not careful. Should Pike win again, the people will truly have spoken.
———————
I still feel that way.

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Clayton Petree

Aug 03, 2011

Hi Riley,
I’d still like to sit down and talk but you haven’t responded back to my e-mails.  I’m an “I”.  NOT R, and not D.  Just paid my ads today for the Betty Pages I feel like I deserve a lot more than some sort of “he’s a conservative” label.
Thanks - you can always e-mail me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and my websites are petreeformayor.com and facebook.com/petreeformayor ... I think you already “liked” that page.
Clayton

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Rob Stratton

Aug 04, 2011

Any Libertarian Candidates?

Wish our Sheriff Candidates would follow in Sheriff Mack’s footsteps.

Wish we would have candidates that would realize government isn’t the answer and to roll back their involvement into our lives.

Ones that would have respect for natural human rights.

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Steve Harris

Aug 06, 2011

Riley, Thanks for the article and Guide.  Here is how I would parse-out my “conservative” values:

- I’m conservative in the number of beds I feel is necessary for a new jail.
- I’m conservative in pushing/expanding infrastructure and business into rural Whatcom Co.
- I’m conservative in the use of physical tactics to resolve conflicts.
- I’m conservative in spending tax dollars on needless administrators.

On the opposite end of the spectrum:

- I’m progressive in my view that treatment is more effective than incarceration in treating drug addiction and mental illness.
- I’m progressive in my view that community involvement and trust is a better law enforcement model than fear and compliance.
- I’m progressive in my view that we need to embrace a restorative justice model of punishment.

I’m considered a conservative “nut” for attending the “5000 Year Leap” study group; and, a liberal, labor “thug” for my years as a labor leader for the Deputy Sheriff’s Guild.

Too many use the terms, “conservative” and, “progressive” as nouns, rather than adjectives..I am my own man, label me as you wish.

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g.h.kirsch

Aug 06, 2011

Yes, you’ve found a pretty difficult place for yourself, Riley; citizen reporter, political partisan, campaign gun for hire.

It is interesting to hear your concern for openly supporting other candidates while you work for Pete Kremen.  Makes me think back to when you were managing Jean Melious’s campaign and Kremen went out and recruited Tony Larson to run against her.  But that was then and this is now.

You’ll make him happy by endorsing Linville over Pike though!

But I’m still hoping you will answer the question I asked July 30, “Has everyone forgotten when Pete pledged his salary increase to charity? How?d that turn out, Riley?”

Or is that one of the issues he asked you to keep a low profile on?

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Riley Sweeney

Aug 07, 2011

I’d be happy to ask him about that, Greg. When did he promise to do that, and in what context?

Pete Kremen did not recruit Tony to run against Jean. He met with him, yes but did not encourage him to run.

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g.h.kirsch

Aug 07, 2011

Of course, that’s not how Tony Larson remembers it. 

And if Kremen had wanted to discourage Larson, he might have endorsed Jean, like he endorsed Michelle Luke against Carl Weimer the year before.

But just what are you trying to tell us, Riley?  Can’t Pete remember when he said it, or can’t he remember who he gave the contribution?

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g.h.kirsch

Aug 07, 2011

Why not read this contemporaneous account of events published here on NW Citizen: http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/confidence-or-contempt?search=salary&category;=&author;=

It was at the end of this charade that your patron expressed his belief that the increase was so insignificant, he’d just give it to charity.

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Riley Sweeney

Aug 07, 2011

I read your account, and it was heavy on insinuation, light on citation. I agree, Pete should have endorsed Jean Melious, so I recommend you take that up with him, by perhaps giving him a ride in your time-traveling DeLorean back to last year where he would promptly make the decision based on the blessing of hindsight.

I understand that Pete isn’t your favorite politician Greg, I get it, but are really ready to throw in with someone who wants to clearcut around Lake Whatcom?
Related, the excellent letter to the editor in the Herald today: http://www.bellinghamherald.com/2011/08/05/2131521/supports-kremen-forest-preserve.html

Like I said, I’ll ask him about this pet issue of yours next time I talk to him. Personally, I’ll take his word over Tony Larson’s considering the smear campaign Tony brought to bear against Jean Melious, he isn’t the most trustworthy of sources.

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g.h.kirsch

Aug 07, 2011

If you’ve already forgotten the salary scam, Riley, maybe Carl Weimer and Rebecca Cravens would refresh your memory, then you make your own judgment on your man’s integrity.

That’s the point.  It’s not about my favorites.  And Kremen’s lapse of ethics isn’t just some “pet issue” of mine.  There are plenty more to come, intended to remind voters why it was such good news to hear he was retiring.

The question is, even if it’s true Kremen’s not as bad as Larson, is that good enough to support him and vote for him?  All he’s really done is preempt someone better than both of them from seeking the position.

And hey, as smear campaigns go, you’re doing pretty good with that “clearcut around Lake Whatcom” thing.

Who was it said,  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!”

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Riley Sweeney

Aug 07, 2011

Listen, we can go back and forth on this, clogging up John’s brand new commenting system to our hearts content, but let’s leave it here.

You don’t trust Pete and have a very specific question about the debate over the Executive office pay. I’ll ask him and get back to you.

I work for candidates because I believe they are the best possible option on that given year. I worked very hard to try and elect Jean Melious because she was the best option that year. I am now working very hard for Pete because he is the best option this year. Pete is not going to “revitalize the timber industry around Lake Whatcom” like Tony promised to do at the Tea Party forum. Instead he will bring his voice to the County Council, which will be a marked improvement over Tony’s.

I understand if you disagree. I understand if you are voting for Tony, if that is where your values lie. We will let the ballots decide this issue. In the meantime, I will try and get an answer to your question and urge everyone to remember to get your ballots turned in!

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g.h.kirsch

Aug 07, 2011

That’s fine.  Will wait to learn what became of Pete’s pledge to the Humane Society.

But please, Riley, don’t keep juxtaposing Jean Melious’s name with Kremen’s.

It just rubs people wrong, and Kremen is made even smaller by comparison.

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Rob Stratton

Aug 08, 2011

Steve,

I showed up to hear the politicians give their speeches at the TEA party thing in Ferndale.

I even got up and talked about why so many of us are so apethetic toward politics. All while Openly Carrying my firearm.

I got a chance to talk to Mr. Elfo afterward but not to you. I didn’t get a chance to ask Bill or yourself what are you views on Sheriff Mack and would you join his coalition of Sheriff’s who will follow the constitution, and be what has become in such “law” ran society, a supporter of citizens and the constitution?

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Steve Harris

Aug 10, 2011

Rob, I believe I saw you there (not many citizens openly carry =).  I am a firm supporter of the Constitution and returning our Sheriff’s Office back to the citizens I took an oath to protect.  Take a look at my website (http://www.harrisforsheriff.org) and if you still have questions, give me a call or send me an email (both are published on the website.)

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Christy Nieto

Aug 11, 2011

I support Tom Anderson for many of the reason’s listed above by David and John. Folks, when it comes down to two candidates, one being Doug Erickson, do you think independents and disgruntled conservatives in the county would prefer the alternative to be a Sierra Club candidate or an independent free thinker? In the end, I believe Tom will appeal to a wider crowd than Stalheim. Tom is the obvious greener choice. He was, after all,  a founder of the local Transition Whatcom chapter.

Pike lost my trust when he signed a contract facilitating a lawsuit against the cititzens of Bellingham and their right to petition. He clearly does not believe in the democratic process. All of the other three candidates for mayor have publicly stated what a bad move this was. Pike refuses to apologize and says he would do it again.

Contrary to what some think, Kelli Linville is opposed to shipping coal or any other nonrenewable natural resource out of our county. She always has been. Difference between herself and Pike is that he had to change his mind.

On a different note, I happened to attend the NW Wildlife Fundraiser in February. Pete Kremen, a regular, was one of the biggest big donors. Just sayin’.

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