In a political move, the liberal Whatcom County Council last night voted 6-1 (Kremen against) to place a proposition on the November ballot that would create 5 legislative districts in the county and increase the at-large positions from one to two council members. If voters approve the measure, it will guarantee that liberal Bellingham will keep the majority on the council in future elections. It was presented by advocates as a long overdue modernization of our county democracy.
To answer the first question you may ask, and many asked at the council meeting last night, this proposal does not touch on district only vs. county wide voting. However, if county wide voting is sustained by voters in November, this redistricting will not improve local representation for rural areas and smaller towns. If district only voting is approved by voters, this redistriting will strengthen Bellingham's hold on future council majorities.
This proposal was created in the last few weeks, pushed and managed by former Bellingham mayor Tim Douglas and liberal political operative Lisa McShane, with council help from Rudd Brown - and apparently one or more council members. It was presented in the form of a petition to the council at the June 22 meeting and promptly put on the agenda for last night's meeting. So last night we had a two hour public hearing followed by a vote to put the proposal on the November ballot.
It is now apparent to me that the liberal council's last minute moves are what caused the conservative majority charter commission to schedule the surprise meeting for Monday, July 6 - the day before the county council meeting. They wanted their charter modification proposals before the council at the same time as the council generated proposals. The move by the liberal council is a sneaky trick and we're left with political moves that appear confusing to the general public.