Voting guide for Whatcom Conservation District

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Updated Wed, March 16, 8 pm

I am told that up to 300 ballots may remain to be counted. These are ballots being mailed and postmarked before 6 pm Tuesday. So the question is where will they be received - at the Conservation District office or at the Auditor's office. Yes, we will try to follow this to its conclusion. And thanks to Barbara Perry for this information.

Updated, Wed, March 16, 5 pm

Unofficial election results show Theresa Sygitowicz being elected as the new supervisor with 618 votes, a majority of the 1,151 votes cast. Roderic Perry was second with 399 votes and the incumbent Dick Yoder got 134 votes. Roderic was the candidate backed by mostly Bellingham environmentalists. Theresa is probably the most conservative and ran for the county council last year. These results will be certified by the state conservation board in May, but there is no doubt Theresa was elected.

On Tuesday, voters filled out their paper ballots in private and then dropped them into a locked ballot box provided by out Whatcom County Auditor. The locked box was then transported to the courthouse this morning and the auditors regular election counters went to work counting them. This appears to put to rest some issues of previous years with complaints about the process.

One final note. This voter enjoyed lunch at the Rusty Wagon after voting on Tuesday. Good lunch and great friendly staff.

Originally posted Mon, March 14, 5:13 pm.

The Whatcom Conservation District is supported by our state taxes. The state legislature provides funds to the state conservation committee which in turn distributes those funds to each of the 45 conservation districts in Washington state. Conservation districts work with farmers and rural land owners on conservation/environmental decisions. Our district has been in operation since 1946.

Following the basic American principle of no taxation without representation, we in Whatcom County get to vote for the supervisors of the Whatcom Conservation District board. The catch is, it is not convenient or easy to vote. The county auditor is our chief elections officer, but state law preempts her and allows conservation districts to conduct their own elections. Whatcom County's district holds their own elections. To have the auditor include their ballot with another election would cost the district about $65,000. The district does not have the budget to cover this cost. The solution is for the state legislature to cover the costs so conservation district elections can be included in regularly scheduled polling.

This is a guide for those who do want to vote tomorrow.

The district office will be open for voting from 9 a.m. till 6 p.m., and will stay open longer if there are voters waiting in line. Once at the office, you will be asked to fill out a short form with your name, address and signature. The clerk will check county voter records online, verify you are a registered voter, and hand you a ballot. You fill it out - yep, old fashioned paper ballots - and then drop it in a lock box. You are done.

The locked drop box is new this year and is provided by the auditor and only the auditor's staff can open it. The locked box will be transported from the conservation district office to the auditor's office in the courthouse on Wednesday morning - accompanied by a staff member from the auditor's office. The box will be opened and the ballots counted at the courthouse. This will resolve any questions about voting integrity.

Three candidates are running for the open supervisor seat, one of five seats. Until recently - today? - their bios were online at the district website, but the state required them to be taken down. The candidates are Roderic Perry, Theresa Sygitowicz, and Richard “Dick” Yoder.

There is an effort by environmentalists to elect Roderic Perry. Perry has a web page with his bio and qualifications. Sygitowicz has a web page with her information. Sygitowicz is a long-time property rights champion. Yoder has a web page with his candidate information and is the incumbent for this supervisor seat, having served since 2005. He has farmed in the county for 50 years.

So - there is an issue with taking time from work to vote. Here is some info. From Bellingham, you can go north out the Guide Meridian or Hannegan to the district office in 15 to 20 minutes. Going up the Guide, turn right on the Pole Road at the traffic circle, and go east for a couple miles to the intersection with Hannegan. Turn left and the office is less than a quarter mile on the left. See the photo at the top of this article. If you'd like, you can combine this with lunch at the Rusty Wagon - in virtually the same parking lot. You can walk over. I'll be there at noon, so if you see me, please join me for lunch.

I want to thank Debbie Adelstein, the Whatcom County auditor, for sitting down with me to answer questions. And also thanks to Dawn Bekenyi the administrative specialist at the Whatcom Conservation District office for providing voting information.

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 [...]