Voting Recommendations and Comments

Byy On
• In Elections,

The following picks are my personal recommendations. Northwest Citizen has eleven writers now and I can no longer speak for the website. Each writer can weigh in with their take on any election races or issues in their own articles, and may do so. I have no recommendations for races with only one candidate. On my ballot of 18 items, seven candidates have no challenger - sad note on our deteriorating democracy. Also, the three state-wide advisory issues are very confused in their ballot titles - and our state voters pamphlet has no explanation of them. I did not vote on them. So, I have only voted for eight out of the 18 items on my ballot. In truth, the 10 that I skipped have absolutely no impact on who is elected or decisions made by our legislature.

Public Safety and Jail Facilities tax - REJECT - all writers at Northwest Citizen, liberal and conservative, strongly recommend a NO vote. Juliette Daniels and David Camp have thoroughly dissected this proposal in 14 articles over the past several months.

County Council

District 1 - Liberals will vote for Rud Browne, and conservatives for Philip Morgan. Browne is overwhelmingly favored to win, as this is the liberal south side of Bellingham.

District 2 - I much prefer Amy Glasser over Todd Donovan. Both are liberal, so conservatives have a decision to make. Let me remind conservatives that Donovan pulled dirty and illegal tricks with Rud Browne to screw up the Charter Review Board’s work on election districts. Donovan has also lied repeatedly about Glasser as well as about his own situation in his all-out effort to be elected.

Donovan has two years left on his present term. He only filed months after Glasser announced and has played politics all the way. This is a sad decline by Donovan from the politically clean beginning of his public career. Glasser is a very well qualified candidate and will make a fine County Council member - and a true liberal. We can thank her for causing Donovan to publicly change his position on the jail from being for it to opposing it. If he is elected, he may well switch back to being for it. Vote for Glasser and let Donovan serve out his last two years. His run against her was an effort managed by unseen local Democratic Party operatives to punish her for supporting Bernie Sanders last year. Dirty politics - from our local establishment liberals.

District 3 - Liberals will vote for Rebecca Boonstra and conservatives for Tyler Byrd. This is the new Foothills District. Both are qualified and will serve their constituencies.

At Large - Again, liberals will vote for Barry Buchanan and conservatives will vote for Mary Kay Robinson. Each is well qualified and each will represent their constituency on the County Council if elected.

Port Commission

District 1 - Dan Robbins gets my vote for re-election and my strong recommendation. You can read the article I posted yesterday on this race. Robbins has done a good job in his first four year term and his common sense is needed on our port commission. Michael Shepard is a nice enough guy, but has provided no reason we should replace Robbins.

District 2 - Ken Bell brings better qualifications to the port over the experience of Barry Wenger. Bell knows ports and business. He is committed to a deeper cleanup of our waterfront than either retiring Mike McAuley or the remaining commissioner, Bobby Briscoe, both of whom were touted as environmental heroes. They fell far short. Barry Wenger has retired from a career with the Washington State Department of Ecology - and peddles that as a plus. Sorry, the DOE allowed Georgia Pacific to pollute our waterfront with toxins for all the years Wenger was there. DOE employment is no recommendation for environmental values. Ken Bell is a practical guy and will do all he can to truly clean-up our waterfront - no thanks to the DOE.

Bellingham City Council

Ward 6 - Quenby Peterson got my vote. She hardly campaigned and thus her chances are slim against incumbent Michael Lilliquist. Honestly, I would vote for most anyone running against Lilliquist. He has designs to run for mayor and will not be focused on council issues. Quenby Peterson is a quiet, smart and involved citizen. She is currently serving on the Bellingham School Board - and I endorsed her when she ran for that position. She would be an excellent fit on our City Council.

At Large - I recommend Roxanne Murphy. Duh. The local Republican Party should be ashamed of themselves for endorsing Eric Bostrom. He is a hate monger, a verbal bomb thrower and has made his reputation by disrupting other people in public spaces. While Murphy is favored to win anyway, we all - liberal and conservative - need to vote for her to avoid any chance of Bostrom on our City Council.

Regarding the Bellingham School District 4 position, I do not know enough to recommend or comment.

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

Elisabeth Britt

Oct 23, 2017

Hi John, 

Just a quick note to clarify Washington State election filing statute requirements. RCW 29a.24.050 provides that declarations of candidacy for (1) Offices that are scheduled to be voted upon for full terms or both full terms and short terms at, or in conjunction with, a state general election… shall be filed during regular business hours with the filing officer (Whatcom County Auditor for local County Council seats)  beginning the Monday two weeks before Memorial Day and ending the following Friday in the year in which the office is scheduled to be voted upon.  

Filing week is not a run-off election. The Auditor does not choose our elected officials for us, based on who files first. Every potential candidate has five business days to file to run for a open political office during the official filing week.  Once filing week officially closes. Voters are allowed to choose their elected officials. 

In other words - in the state of Washington, we have a one week window in which candidates must file their official intention to run for a particular office. If a candidate who indicates that they want to run for an office doesn’t file during the official filing week (per statute) they are not officially a candidate and their name will not be placed on the ballot. Doesn’t matter how vocal they were prior to filing week. 

In past years, many candidates from both parties have filed on the last day of filing week.  Some wait until the last day to file, because they want to see who else is going to file before they commit to running for office. Others, because that’s the day they chose to file and there has always been a festive atmosphere in the Auditor’s office on the last afternoon of filing.  There is nothing sneaky or underhanded about filing to run for public office during the official filing week.  As noted above, it is the only legally accepted method for becoming an official candidate for public office. 

That said, I’m not familiar with the “dirty and illegal” tricks that you are accusing Todd Donovan and Rud Browne of. This is the first time that  I’ve heard this allegation.  Please feel free to enlighten me with the facts.

Finally,  I’m confused by your statement that “if elected, Donovan may well switch back to being for it.” (the jail tax). He has two more years in his current term - so, why would winning the second district seat change his current public position on the jail? 

Unseen political operatives? Oh come on, John, name-names! In the Trump era, even political operatives like to see their name in print!

That said, I’m  supporting Todd Donovan  for the second district council position, because I believe that he is the most qualified candidate.  I’ve known Councilmember Donovan for a number of years and have grown to respect his honesty, integrity, professionalism and his commitment to our community. Not only does he listen to his constituents - he works hard to make our community a better place for all of us. 

And, I remain concerned that Amy Glasser and some of her supporters still believe that she is entitled to a position on the council - just because she indicated early on that she wanted to run.

While it is very tempting to think of an elected seat as an entitlement, as something a candidate should receive by being the first individual to unofficially declare her/his intention to run for a seat. It’s not.  Effective elected officials understand that they serve the members of the public in a representative capacity. They embrace and welcome  the opportunity to run competitive campaigns in order to discuss the issues and to interact with the voters.  No one gets elected - just because:  1) they were first to unofficially declare an intention to run for public office; or, 2) was the first candidate to file for a seat during the official filing week in May.  Again, democracy embraces competition. It doesn’t attempt to arrest or thwart it. It doesn’t attempt to drive other candidates out of a race “because I’ve decided that I’m special, I was here first and now it’s my turn.” 

Oh, and I’m supporting Michael Shepard and Barry Wenger for the Port Commissioner positions.  The other seats will sort themselves out, along the political demarcation lines that you have indicated. We are a community and nation that is increasingly polarized. Local elections provide voters with an opportunity to reverse that trend. 


John Servais

Oct 23, 2017

A link has been added to the paragraph about Donovan in the article above.  It links to my article of July 26, 2017 which points out Donovan’s actions. I am told that his false accusations against Amy stopped with the publication of this article.

Here is a link to my article of July 8, 2015 - yes, two years ago - article on the dirty and illegal actions of Rud Browne and Todd Donovan  At the time of writing, I was not sure who besides Rud was in on the illegal manipulating of the council agenda.  I later learned that Donovan was right in there with Browne. They simply violated the law in order to block and dilute the legal results of the Charter Review Commission.  It worked.  

The timeline of who announced first is important because Donovan kept saying Glasser wanted him off the county council - a clear lie since he has two years left in his term. As he announced his intention to run after Amy did - and he had two years left on his current term - she could hardly be guilty of announcing her intention to run as an effort to take Todd off the council. This is so simple it is absurd to have to explain it.  Yet there was Todd repeatedly accusing her of that.  Those are lies about Glasser.  

Finally, here is the real irony.  If we vote for and elect Amy Glasser to the county council, then we get both Amy and Todd on the council for the next two years.  But if Todd wins this election then he has to vacate his present seat and the council selects his replacement.  That new council might be liberal or conservative among the six remaining members.  We have no idea who might be appointed to the next year of the seat that Donovan vacates.  But we the people, we citizens, will not get to select by election that seventh member of our county council.  It should not be hard for every reader to figure out who would be responsible for that situation.

If you are a Democrat or liberal, you should know that seventh countcil seat could go to a conservative and Donovan will have engineered a conservative takeover of the council.  If you are a conservative, then if a majority of the remaining six are liberal then they will be able to solidify their control. We the people lose.

If we elect Amy then we get both Amy Glasser and Todd Donovan on the council. 


Dianne Foster

Oct 24, 2017

Interestingly,  I was checking in delegates at the Dem Whatcom County  convention,  and both Amy and Todd were Bernie delegates.   The difference is -   Amy showed up,  and Todd no-showed.      Not sure what to make of it.


Elisabeth Britt

Oct 24, 2017

I’m confused. Councilmember Donovan didn’t join the County Council until 2016. So, I don’t understand how he could have been one of the liberal county council members you were writing about back in July of 2015.  You mention political operative Lisa McShane and former Bellingham Mayor Tim Douglas, but Todd Donovan’s name isn’t included in the article.  In the response posted above, you state that you have since received information that leads you to believe he was involved. But you don’t tell us who you received the information from. So, readers like myself are powerless to make our own decisions about your assertions - when we don’t have access to the information that you are using to support your argument. 

So, if you oppose a five member council - did you prefer the three member council proposal? Or, are you advocating that we should have kept the old seven member council structure? 

That said, I agree with Council member Donovan’s statement in the Weekly that some of the existing Council members will not be viable candidates in future elections. And, despite your assertions to the contrary, I believe, after working closely with elected officials from the 42nd Legisative District, that Council member Donovan is one of the candidates that is not  viable in a future at large election. Which would be appropriate grounds for him filing to run in District two, where he has lived for years.

So, let’s see if I can sumarize the information you have provided me.  First, would it be correct for me to state that you believe Councilmember Donovan can win a bid for an at large position in Whatcom County? If so, would you mind sharing the reasons why you believe he can win an election against Satpal Sidhu?  Or, why he would even want to run against Council member Sidhu? If you don’t believe that he can win an at large seat,  I will conclude that you want him off the council and completely out of local politics once he has completed his current term. Second, Is it really true that it will it be Council member Donovan’s fault if Whatcom County voters decide to elect conservative candidates in the new Council districts?  That’s a lot of responsiblity to pin on one elected official who is attempting to win a seat in the District he lives in.  Please know that I agree that Professor Donovan is brilliant - but I’m not sure that even Todd has that kind of influence at the ballot box. But it’s nice to hear that you think he does!

By the way, I’ve filed public records requests to gain access to lists of students at WWU. So have some of our peers. WWU sends them promptly. So, I’m not sure it’s fair to state that Professor Donovan misused his position to gain access to student lists in order to figure out if the person posting  accusations of inappropriate behavior about him  on his Facebook page was inappropriate. It’s public information. Even someone like me can  get it. 

Has this campaign been ugly? Yes it has. But the ugliness and negative campaigning isn’t restricted to just Donovan’s campaign, as you assert above.  I’ve read the Facebook posts from both Todd and Amy’s supporters.  Some of the posts are polite, some are opinionated, a few ask questions and others are downright offensive. But that’s how negative campaigns are run.



John Servais

Oct 25, 2017


My source was off the record.  I asked them today if they could either allow their remarks to go on the record so I could inform you and readers how I know what I posted, or if they would privately inform you so you would know.  They refused both.  So, there is no more I can do to assure you that my source was highly reliable and the facts are correct.  Sorry you do not trust me.  

Point of clarification.  I did not write that Donovan was on the council in 2015, as you suggest.  That does not eliminate him from being part of the process.  Also, I make a distinction between good ethical process and the results I want.  I may want 5 districts or 7 or 9, but that does not mean I support illegal processes to change from 3 to another number.  I’m advocating for legal processes, regardless of my personal desires of outcomes.

Donovan has every right to run for office even in mid-term of his current term. But the campaign should be honest and forthright.  When a candidate is not honest, or is unduly nasty, then it is journalists who are entitled to point out the behavior.  That is all.  Nothing against Todd running.  Much against what he is saying as it is lying and smearing his opponent, who is conducting an honorable campaign.

You prefer Todd Donovan and I prefer Amy Glasser.  We all make our individual choice and vote for the candidate we each think best.  During the campaign we get to size up the personal attributes of candidates.  This is the process we are in now.


Elisabeth Britt

Oct 26, 2017

Hi John,

Not sure how our conversation got twisted into something about me not trusting you. That said, I don’t trust anyone who  tosses out shadowy allegations - then hides behind a request to remain anonymous.  That tells me they have an axe to grind. Or, they lack the proof they need to support their allegation(s) in the public arena. 

It’s hardly a secret that I’m a strong proponent of open government and transparent processes.  And, in my world, those values also apply to campaign politics.

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