I stopped by to visit our county auditor, Debbie Adelstein, Friday afternoon. Of the estimated 75,000 to 80,000 ballots expected this election, only 23,908 have been received so far. Only about 30%. That is a slow start for this close to election day.
Why? Adelstein thinks it may be because it's such a long ballot. She said voters “...have to spend some time on it and want to take it seriously.” Whatcom County has 129,208 registered voters for this election. About 60% of those registered will actually vote.
We at NWCitizen have focused on the jail sales tax issue and why we all strongly feel that this should be voted down. But given how many ballots are still out there, citizens will likely use this windy and rainy weekend to hunker down and try to intelligently fill out a very long ballot. So, here is my perspective on most ballot questions. Other writers on NWCitizen disagree with me on some of these choices. I consider myself to be an Independent and a liberal. But I expect some of my Democrat friends will chastise me for my recommendations. Being liberal does not mean being a Democrat.
Propositions and Initiatives
County proposition No. 2015-1, the jail facilities sales and use tax. NO. Rejected. This will waste millions of dollars, burden us with excessive jail operation costs, not serve justice and has been deceptively promoted. There are several articles about this on NWCitizen.
County Proposition No. 1, method of electing council members. I am voting YES, to approve this. Representatives to a council, legislature or house of representatives should be elected by the people they represent. This issue has been turned into a proxy fight over the Cherry Point coal port - and it should not be. We in Bellingham should not be so fearful of our rural neighbors. They have good common sense, just as we do.
Propositions 2 and 3 deal with preventing district-only voting from being reversed in a future election. I’ll vote NO on both, but they are not so important.
Proposition 4 allows more words to describe an initiative. YES, approved, is my choice. More info is good.
Props. 5, 6, 7 and 8 are all minor adjustments and a quick reading of the ballot descriptions will tell you whether or not your personal values support or object to them.
Proposition 9 and 10 should be rejected. I am voting NO on both. They are both dirty political tricks by our County Council. Proposition 9 especially was set up by the Democratic Party and they have been very deceptive in their campaigning for its passage. Basically, the liberal council is trying to poop on the Charter Review Commission.
Proposition 9 creates five districts. I am voting NO. If passed, Propostition 9 will ensure permanent Bellingham control of the County Council. This is simply not fair and as a liberal I will not vote for a rigged system. We all decry the increased divisiveness in our politics these past few years - in local as well as state and national politics. Well, Proposition 9 will increase this divide.
The proponents for five districts have cited how the present three districts are gerrymandered, out of date and unfair. Not a single proponent ever mentioned this before last May. This crisis was invented from thin air to counter the Charter Review Commission putting the district only voting on the ballot - Proposition 1. Proposition 9 is a poison pill to Proposition 1. If both pass, Bellingham retains its control of the County Council.
Proposition 10 is also a NO vote. It is another poison pill by the County Council to prevent future Charter Review Commissions from doing their work. It requires a supermajority to put an issue on the ballot. The normal work that a council or commission is elected to do should only require a majority. The purpose of the Charter Review Commission is to consider items to place on a ballot. The present system should remain. I am rejecting Proposition 10.
State Initiative 1366. I am voting NO. Tim Eyman put some good initiatives on the ballot a few years ago, but now he is just working to cripple our state legislature. 1366 is blackmail and has evil motives.
Gary Jensen gets my vote for port commissioner. Bobby Briscoe would also make a fine commissioner. But Jensen is better qualified to help the port make better decisions. We need someone who can stand up to Dan Robbins and Rob Fix and team up with Mike McAuley. Robbins has controlled Jim Jorgensen these past years and has made terrible decisions. Port Executive Director Rob Fix and Dan Robbins are effectively our port commission now. If Briscoe is in Alaska fishing during summer months, he won't be here when we may need him. He is a fine fellow but not as experienced in local politics and business as is Jensen.
Yes, Jensen has spoken in favor of the coal port, but the port has nothing to do with that decision. There are also charges about his donors and his election finance reports. Both are side shows and do not negate the abilities he will bring to the port. Above all, we need a tough commissioner who will help the elected commission take back control of the port. Jensen and McAuley will do that.
Todd Donovan gets my vote for the County Council. Todd is exceptionally qualified. He is a government and public policy wonk. He is liberal and I like that. He is open minded and brings reasoned intelligence to issues. Bruce Ayers has made himself into a one issue candidate, backing the awful jail tax. He served us well on the Bellingham council back in the 1990s but he has changed. Todd is the better of the two.
Kathy Kershner also gets my vote for County Council. Why would this liberal vote for a Republican? Because Satpal Sidhu has shown he is not an independent thinker, but Kathy is. Our council needs a responsible conservative who can bring out other perspectives on issues. This makes for a healthy council. Since Sidhu was appointed last March, he has been controlled by Rud Browne. He simply is not an effective participant in the decision making process.
We liberals complain that conservatives do not elect reasonable and well meaning representatives. Well, Kathy Kershner is just such a person. She proved her independence the last time she was on the council, casting the key vote for the 8,000 acre land transfer on Lake Whatcom for a county park. Because of that, the uber conservatives in Whatcom County abandoned her in the next election. We liberals should help her get elected. She will be much better on the council than Sidhu. She will bring an important conservative viewpoint to discussions. We city folks should not work to deny our conservative rural neighbors a fine representative.
That is it. Oh sure, I will be voting for Joy Gilfilen for county executive. But Louws will win by a landslide. There is nothing I can add to what you very probably already know about these two.