Who Filed for Charter Review Commission?

Riley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates

Riley takes a closer look at the Charter Review Commission candidates

• Topics: Whatcom County, Elections,

This is another cross-post from The Political Junkie

The Charter Review Commission offers an unique opportunity and plays an incredibly influential role in how our county functions. For all the background, check out my article here. Now that filing week has closed, let’s take a look at who is running for this fifteen person committee. Remember, each district elects its own people – i.e. only people living in District 2 vote for the District 2 candidates and the top five vote getters are elected.

If you have more information about some of the people running for Charter Review, feel free to add it in the comments, below is what I know off the top of my head or was able to dig up.

District 1

The Known Conservatives

Dick Donahue, star of “Wealth Wakeup” a paid-for Sunday show on KGMI about financial investments that sports an official endorsement from Glenn Beck.

Larry Helm, long-time Republican party officer.

Delaine (De) Clizbe, one of the key organizers in the Whatcom Tea Party movement and one of the fundraisers for the pro-coal terminal PAC SAVEWhatcom last year that was funded by Gateway Pacific Terminal.

Orphalee Smith, CPA and frequent treasurer for Republican campaigns, probably sticks out in most people’s mind for her write-in campaign against Seth Fleetwood for City Council where she mailed a bright yellow pen with her name on it to city voters. I still use my Orphalee Smith pen to write notes for my blog when I’m on location.

Anthony Wallace, former president of the Young Republicans of Washington State now turned political consultant, burned a few bridges last year when he supported Mike McAuley over local conservative businessman Ken Bell. McAuley won, despite being outspent 3:1.

Other Conservatives: Gabe Martin (Logos Bible Software programmer, associated with Ron Paul movement), Kent Murphy (supported Bush in 2004).

The Known Progressives

Barbara Ryan, former city councilwoman and current trustee of the Whatcom Museum.

Todd Donovan, WWU professor of political science and environmentalist, has been deeply involved in a number of Democratic campaigns over the years. Also, frequent reader of this blog. (Hi Todd!)

Michele Stelovich, social services worker and union organizer with the AFSCME.

Stoney Bird, progressive rabble-rouser, involved in the No Coal movement and a number of progressive causes as an organizer.

Alie Walker, volunteer with Carl Weimer’s county council campaign.

Bob Burr, part of the Bellingham 12 who engaged in peaceful resistance by chaining himself to railroad tracks to stop the coal trains. He also ran against Patty Murray in 2010 as a progressive candidate and ran against Roxanne Murphy last year for the city council.

Other Liberals: Bruce Clawson, Eli Mackiewicz, Thomas Stuen, Tom Walstrom, Nancy Metcalf

Unknowns: Bob Hall (not that Bob Hall), Kevin Byford

District 2

The Known Conservatives

Chet Dow, long-time Republican party officer and volunteer.

Ben Elenbaas, former candidate for County Council, lost to Ken Mann last year. Also, related to Jason Overstreet.

Joe Elenbaas, former candidate for county treasurer who was charged with threatening a sheriff’s deputy with a shotgun and made headlines for using a racial slur as a member of the County Planning Commission. Related to Ben.

Ken Bell, former candidate for Port Commission who lost to Mike McAuley last year. Read my interview with him here.

Larry Nicholas, until recently local chair of the Whatcom Libertarians and conservative organizer.

Other Conservatives: Matthew Weeda, Branden Brink, Cliff Langley, David Bock.

The Known Progressives

Stan Snapp, former city councilman and firefighter. Currently Democratic PCO and mustache enthusiast.

Kate Blystone, former executive director of Futurewise Whatcom and current RESources employee working on water issues.

Atul Deshmane, president of Whole Energy, a biodiesel company in Bellingham and Democratic donor.

Judd Morse, Democratic PCO and frequent reader of this blog. (Hi Judd!)

Sherry Nelson, on the board of directors for the Bellingham Music Festival and local progressive volunteer.

Other Liberals: Susan Gribbin, Bob Bandarra.

Unknowns: Rebecca Boonstra, Bob Johnson

District 3

The Known Conservatives

Nick Evans, political director for the Whatcom Republicans and confused insurance salesman.

Karl Uppiano, Whatcom Tea Party organizer and frequent reader of this blog. (Hi Karl!)

Jon Mutchler, pastor and city councilman from Ferndale. I have him tagged as “most likely to have a political career outside of Ferndale in the next ten years.”  Wicked good piano player.

Yvonne Goldsmith, Republican fundraiser and key organizer for SAVEWhatcom, the pro-coal terminal PAC from last year.

Eileen Sobjack, Republican party officer and also national officer with the Federation of Republican women.

Other Conservatives: Wes Kentch, Linda Cain.

The Known Progressives

Richard May, business owner and former Blaine city councilman and candidate for state Legislature in 2010. Also, has bought me more beers than perhaps any other political person in Whatcom County.

Bob Cecile, former public works director of Ferndale now project manager with the Lummi tribe and Democratic donor.

Chris Johnson, electrician and vice-president of the Northwest Central Labor Council.

John Munson, long-time labor advocate who recently has taken an active role supporting the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

Wild Cards

John Lesow, long-time planning commissioner who identifies as conservative but has supported reasonable land use policies over the last years, including compliance with the growth management act.

Ralph Black, local real estate mogul and occasional Democratic donor although he has supported a number of conservative candidates in the past.

That’s it for your breakdown. Obviously, with so many people, there is plenty more information to find. The next step for these races will probably be the local political parties assembling slates of preferred candidates and more than a couple forums to debate the issues. Feel free to add more information in the comments below.

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

Abe Jacobson

May 19, 2014

Thanks Riley, you’ve provided useful reportage, and I appreciate that.
Abe Jacobson


Riley Sweeney

May 21, 2014

Kris Halterman, from the local Tea Party and pro-coal PAC took umbrage at some of my descriptions. You can find all the details here: http://sweeneypolitics.com/2014/05/21/pro-coal-pac-savewhatcom-blasts-me-in-blog-post/

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