If you enjoy the content you find here, please consider donating to support our continued efforts to bring you the best news and opinion articles we can. We hope you like the recent update to NWCitizen, and look forward to bringing you more insight into local politics and issues in 2017.

Support NWCitizen Not Now

Election Results - Aug 4 Primary

By On

Link to the Whatcom County Election Results.

9:52 - A last post for this evening. With a general observation. Our county is shifting more towards a progressive political outlook. Briscoe should not have done that well with voters west of the Guide and firmly in the supposedly more conservative third district. Jensen was supposed to take the lead - and was even considered by some smart people I have talked to as the shoo in for port commissioner. Well that perception is now out the window, I think. Then in the first district, Todd was expected to draw a majority, but not to outpoll experienced Republican business man Bruce Ayers by a ratio of 4:1. That breaks all the previous thinking. Yes - 62% to 17%, Donovan to Ayers. Wham. Bruce Ayers was almost a one issue candidate, making the building of the new Tag Mahal county jail the center of his campaign. Well, the jail initiative is now in trouble.

And more interestingly - this puts county charter issues up in the air also. Have the conservatives over played their hands and has their arrogance gone too far? Or are the primary results just an aberration? Are they a result of strong liberal turnout for the election and the conservatives will be out in force for the November? Or have many shifted their views on local issues towards a more liberal viewpoint?

I will try to do my best to cover issues and candidates over the next three months. I like the elements in this election and it should be fun. We voters have a chance to make several strong statements about what we value in our county - a rare chance to make clear choices that will transfer into real decisions that impact our future.

For now, I bid you good night.

8:56 - Quemby Peterson has all but sealed her win as a new Bellingham schools director. 63% of the vote - with Jono Manion and Tony Wallace each getting 19%. We will not know until the final ballot count weeks from now which one will face Quemby in the general election. Hopefully Quemby will campaign with vigor and not sacrifice this commanding lead.

8:50 - I do not share the feeling of many of my liberal friends that Gary Jensen as a port commissioner would be bad. The guy knows business - and the port is about business. I've always wondered why he is supportive of the coal terminal as that monster would seriously damage the business climate in our county. We attract great businesses because of our ambience. I think Gary is smart enough to know that and would be an excellent commissioner. That said, we get to see Gary and Bobbie spend the next few months in a real campaign for port commissioner. This will bring out issues like few if any port races have done in decades. The winner of the general election will make a real difference at the Port - and for our business climate in Whatcom County.

8:42 - As one old experienced political observer just texted me, Todd Donovan may be the only person who got positive publicity from his charter review commission experience. And, indeed, Todd was always present, consistent, polite and fully involved. He was the leader in many respects of the minority progressives and gained the respect of all factions during the process.

8:33 - Strong results for the Ferndale mayor and council primaries. I know only as much as most readers of this. If someone in Ferndale can write a comment on the meaning behind who is winning and not, that would be appreciated.

8:28 - Bobby Briscoe, the fisherman from Blaine, has pulled off a surprising first place for port commissioner, drawing 44% of the vote in the 3rd district, to favored Ferndale mayor, Gary Jensen, who drew 39%. Gary was supposed to be the strongest candidate in this race. Lloyd Zimmerman is a distant 3rd with 17%. So, the general election will see very spirited campaigns by Briscoe and Jensen. Jensen has been an early backer of the coal terminal at Cherry Point, and continued this support during the primary campaign, even though the Port of Bellingham does not have a voice in whether the coal terminal is built. This may have been the deciding issue that swung support to Briscoe.

8:23 - Todd Donovan virtually sweeps the field of 4 candidates for the county council seat from the 1st District. 62% of the vote is a landslide. Bruce Ayers, with 17% of the vote, will be his challenger in the general election. Wow. Emily Weaver and Theresa Sygitowicz each have 11% of the vote.

8:18 - Results are now posted.

8:11 pm - The results should be posted about 8:20 pm by the county Auditor. There will be only one posting this evening, with additional counts over the next few days, and with the new totals posted about 4 pm each day.

Related Links

About John Servais

Writer • 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

Doug Karlberg

Aug 05, 2015

The Port results are very interesting as Bobbie Briscoe a political outsider, bested a sitting Mayor in the heart of his own district.

This should have been a shoo-in for Mayor Jensen according to the political pundits. It was not, so obviously the pundits missed something in the voters mood.

While Mayour Jensen points to the obvious elephant in the room - his early support of a coal terminal.

Is that the only deciding issue??

I suspect not.

I suspect that Mayour Jensens’ record as Mayour, is not as popular as people assumed. The re-plumbing of Ferndales water supply has left a bad taste in peoples mouth also.

Mayour Jensens’ highlights as Mayour included some new public buildings, but doubled the City of Ferndales debt, is likely another issue.

When voters support a virtual unknown, who is out of state during the primary season, over a sitting Mayour, the personal job performance of Mayour Jensen may be a deciding factor regardless of the political pundits pointing to the coal terminal.

The Port of Bellingham performance when in the control of the “good ole boys” and Jensens alignment with outgoing Commissioner Jorgenson may have also played a role. Hard to see Jensen dramatically changing the Port of Bellingham.

Of course Mayour Jensens early and consistant support of the coal terminal, has made his denial of the Port’s role in the coal terminal look a little like he is a little wishy washy, saying what he needs say to get elected.

Many people may not know this, but the Port of Bellingham can if it chooses have a deciding role in the coal port decision. Remember that the coal port supporters threw money into the last Port of Bellingham race, supporting Commissioner Robbins.

The Port of Bellingham has the power of eminent domain, which means with a simple two commissioner vote could take every square foot of land destined for the coal terminal a seize it via eminent domain, then turn this land into a coal terminal, or a high tech industrial park, eliminating the coal terminal altogether. Even County Council does not have this much power over this proposed coal terminal.

This power of eminent domain is very powerful, and exactly how they got the GP waterfront, simply by threatening to seize GP treatment lagoon, brought GP to its knees.

Regardless of Mayour Jensen’s assertions, the coal terminal supporters threw money into the previous Port of Bellingham race for a reason. I don’t think the supporters are dumb and just wanted to throw money away on the Port race.

Watch to see if the coal supporters throw money behind one of these candidates.

The plumber versus the fisherman for a deciding vote on the port Commission.

This should be good.


Ralph Schwartz

Aug 05, 2015

A note to John and NWCitizen members: the Politics Blog at The Bellingham Herald will be shut down tomorrow—Thursday, Aug. 6. I am not authorized to talk about company decisions (except maybe off the record, and offline) but my editor gave me a suggested text:

“To focus on the in-depth stories and breaking news that readers have requested, we are shifting away from this blog. Many of the same items that appeared on this blog will now be news stories listed under the http://www.bellinghamherald.com/news/politics-government/election/local-election/ section, which is now available in the main drop-down navigation.

“The blog section will remain online so people can access the old posts.”

This statement or something close to it will appear on a final Politics Blog post I plan to put up today—about coal stuff.

Since I’ve been asked to refrain on our blog from going beyond the above statement, I will say here thanks to all the people who read the Politics Blog over the years, dating back to founder Sam Taylor in 200?. I’ve appreciated the feedback during my three-year stint on the blog, and I even have a soft spot for the haters (now that some time has elapsed since I’ve read any of them).

John, please keep up the good work. Riley is gone from this sphere, and so now is The Bellingham Herald. Your work is needed now more than—well, I won’t say ever, because you were the first, but for quite a few years now.


Tip Johnson

Aug 05, 2015

Wow, just wow.  The Herald pulls the plug on their Politics Blog the day after these primary results.  They don’t want readership?  Wow.

Agreed, some astounding results, but time now to buckle down and work on getting them elected.


John Lesow

Aug 05, 2015

Not surprised at the progressive political shift in the 3rd District, at least in the waterside enclaves of Point Roberts, Lummi Island, Blaine and Birch Bay.  Suggest the main reason is the Coal Port and the negative effects of coal dust, with fallout evident in Point Roberts from the nearby Westshore Terminals coal pile just across the border in Tsawwassen, B.C.  Briscoe’s campaign mailing, which reached all Point Roberts voters, was very well done.  The fact that Briscoe is a commercial fisherman surely hit some positive notes up here, particularly since this was a fishing community once upon a time.  The results from Point Roberts were 26 for Jensen, 37 for Zimmerman and 75 for Briscoe.  Completely understandable.  Few up here care about the proposed jail and it’s champion, Mayor Jensen.  Lloyd Zimmerman has been touted for his environmental conscience and that perception percolated into a few more votes than were cast for Jensen.  But Briscoe’s perception as a working fisherman that is more concerned with jobs than coal ports and jails surely helped him garner twice as many votes as his two rivals combined in our tiny Pct 101.


Sandy Robson

Aug 06, 2015

While I appreciate John Servais’ political opinions and experience, I disagree with his statement that Gary Jensen is smart enough to know that because we (I assume he means our county) attract great businesses due to our ambience, that therefore Jensen would be an excellent Port Commissioner.

Since 2011, Jensen has demonstrated that he has not been smart enough to know that by his extensive public efforts to support the Gateway Pacific Terminal project. There is no question about that.

Jensen has been using his political influence to assist corporations involved in GPT in their attempt to foist a coal export terminal on our community and on the Lummi Nation, whose people are part of our community.

I don’t think Gary Jensen would be a good Port commissioner, let alone “be an excellent commissioner” as John Servais said. I think that not only because of Jensen’s actions on behalf of coal terminal applicants SSA Marine and BNSF, but especially because, as a candidate for Port, he has not been candid. For me, that is equally as problematic as his very public support of GPT, and allowing himself to be used in advertising for GPT for years.

One example of Jensen having exhibited a lack of candor is evident in his 2015 Voters’ Pamphlet candidate statement when he said, “I have never supported the burning of coal.”

That statement above by Jensen is simply not true, when Jensen, as a sitting mayor, has helped SSA Marine and BNSF try to sell GPT to the public, and, if built, the terminal would handle, store, and then ship 48 million tons of coal per year. The destination for that coal would be primarily Asia where it would be burned. His support of GPT supports the burning of coal.

Public records show that SSA Marine (via Craig Cole) and BNSF had asked Mayor Jensen to testify in support of “rail coal traffic” at a State Senate Environment Committee hearing in January 2012. Jensen agreed to do that, but then two days before the committee hearing, he was informed by BNSF that they no longer needed him to travel to Olympia to do that because as it turned out, representatives from Marysville who were scheduled to speak in opposition to an increase in coal rail traffic would not be coming to testify at the committee hearing after all.

BNSF Director of Government Affairs Terry Finn, had written this in his Jan. 11, 2012 email to Mayor Gary Jensen:

From:  Finn Terry J (Govt Affairs)
To: garyjensen@cityofferndale.org
Date:  Wed, 11 Jan 2012 13:06:23 -0600
Subject: Coal Dust Hearing

Mayor Jensen,

I think you’ve heard by now that the workshop scheduled by the State Senate Environment Committee for this Friday has an invitation-only speakers list.  (Craig Cole told me he has notified you.)  I had submitted your name as local government representative with a point of view different from that of Marysville officials who had been on the list to testify against rail coal traffic.  Well… we’ve been told that Marysville isn’t going to show up, so the committee chair, Sen. Sharon Nelson, D-Vashon Island, doesn’t want an “overbalance” of rail transport supporters and has removed you and your city from the list.  I am sorry to say that your willingness to help is now for naught; you don’t need to ruin your Friday morning by heading for Olympia.

However, thank you very much for your quick willingness to speak in favor of the Gateway Pacific project and of rail traffic in general.  We recognize that you have been a strong voice in this battle despite all of the misinformation floating around.  I appreciate it very much.  See you again soon, I hope.


Terry Finn | Director, Government Affairs | BNSF Railway

Gary Jensen seemed upset at the news that he would not get to testify in support of rail coal traffic and in support of GPT when he wrote this reply to BNSF’s Terry Finn:

From:  Gary Jensen [mailto:GaryJensen@cityofferndale.org]
Sent: Wednesday, January 11, 2012 12:11 PM
To: Finn, Terry J (Govt Affairs)
Subject: RE: Coal Dust Hearing

My only response would be that I’m offended that a public official would be removed from speaking on any list. If possible I would like a copy of what was said at this hearing and who attended.

Gary S. Jensen,

Mayor, City of Ferndale


Sandy Robson

Aug 06, 2015

In Cascadia Weekly’s July 22 issue, all three candidates running for Port of Bellingham Commissioner (District 3) were interviewed; Lloyd Zimmerman, Bobby Briscoe, and Gary Jensen.

Mayor Jensen, when asked about the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal, said this below about the coal train traffic that would accompany the terminal if it were built and operating:

Gary Jensen: “I think the port has a concern about railroad siding issues. As a commissioner, I don’t believe I would ever vote on the subject of Cherry Point, but we would have a concern about that much rail traffic. I believe an increase in those trains would be an economic concern for the port.”

Jensen’s stated concern about the increase in coal train traffic (18 coal trains daily would go to and from GPT), is contrary to his support for the increase in coal train traffic evident in his email communications from January 2012, between him and BNSF’s Terry Finn. Those communications are provided in my previous comment post on this thread.

Also, public records show Mayor Gary Jensen sent a January 22, 2014 email to BNSF which said: “As discussed, we would like to pursue the possibility of moving forward on a ‘quiet zone’ in Ferndale.”
Below is that email signed by Gary Jensen (sent via Ferndale City Clerk Sam Taylor’s email address):

From:  Sam Taylor
To:  Richard Wagner (richard.wagner@bnsf.com)
Date:  Jan 22, 2014, 2:10 PM
Subject: Ferndale area quiet zone

To: Richard Wagner, BNSF Railway Co.

From: Gary S. Jensen, Mayor, City of Ferndale

RE: Ferndale Area Railroad Quiet Zone

January 22, 2014

Dear Richard,

It was a pleasure to meet with you here in our City recently. As discussed, we would like to pursue the possibility of moving forward on a “quiet zone” in Ferndale.

A quiet zone is a section of rail line at least one-half mile in length that contains one or more consecutive public highway-rail grade crossing at which locomotive horns are not routinely sounded when trains are approaching the crossings.

With the projected drastic increase in train traffic brought on by shipment of crude oil, this is an important subject for our community. We have two major oil refineries that will be shipping a larger percentage of their crude oil through our City.

We would like to see this move forward in 2014 and stand ready to help you in any way possible.

Best Regards,

Gary S. Jensen, Mayor

After reading that email, I wondered why Jensen only referred to what he called a “projected drastic increase” in crude by rail traffic, but he did not mention the huge increase of coal trains that would accompany GPT if built? I don’t understand why that is missing from his email.

So, Mayor Jensen was ready and willing to testify at the request of coal terminal applicants BNSF and SSA Marine, in support of the GPT project and “rail coal traffic” at the State Senate Environment Committee hearing in January 2012.

Then in 2014, he told BNSF he wanted a railroad quiet zone to move forward in Ferndale. I do not know whether the railroad quiet zone has moved forward or not since Jensen’s January 2014 email communication to BNSF.

Then in July 2015, he told Cascadia Weekly that he (if on the Port Commission) would consider the amount of rail traffic associated with the GPT project at Cherry Point an economic concern for the Port.

Jensen is on one hand, supporting proposed industry projects that increase rail traffic and then on the other hand, working to make taxpayers pay for mitigation for the noise and inconveniences they will suffer at the hands of corporations.






Walter Haugen

Aug 06, 2015

Sandy Robson makes some good points about Gary’s lying and being in bed with the coal industry. However, he is also more than willing to use his executive powers and the Ferndale Police Department to harass his opponents.

In February 2009, at a Ferndale City Council meetingt, I criticized the plan to build a new police station, calling it a boondoggle and a dangerous waste of money during a deep recession. The next night I was stopped on a bogus speeding charge in Ferndale and given a warning. When I complained to Gary, he of course denied that I was being targeted. I have continued to make this accusation over the years and, of course, he still denies it. Nevertheless, I have a lot of experience being harassed by the police in the last 45 years and “if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it is a duck.”

Gary also targeted the Rojsza family when Norbert Rojsza challenged him in the mayoral primary in 2011. Because Gary didn’t like Norbert’s campaign signs, he initiated 104 CRIMINAL (not civil) charges against the Rojszas, ALL of which were summarily dismissed in court. These charges were the “smoking gun” in the Rojsza’s civil rights settlement in 2014, which amounted to $130,000. Only $10,000 of this amount was actually paid by the City, as the City’s insurance paid the rest. However, this is still an OUTRAGEOUS abuse of power. Unlike my harassment by the police, this issue can be documented by anyone, just by checking old issues of the Bellingham Herald.

So, not only is Gary Jensen a liar and in bed with the coal companies, he is a power abuser.


Dena Jensen

Aug 06, 2015

Main thing to know is that Gary Jensen obviously has very strong bamboozling qualities that any of us worried about the air-breathing, water-drinking nature of our region should seriously beware of.  We can’t count Jensen out of winning in November for a second if he still has capacity to convince independent thinking individuals that he is a good bet for handling the business of the Port of Bellingham.  We have to be all-in with getting the word out that Jensen will surely sell us and our future generations out for prettily presented projects that have unending poison wrapped up inside and will NEVER take responsibility for the damage wrought by his poor decisions. Behavior like minimizing and denying his brazen support of GPT and using PR people to divert attention from his hasty and undemocratic actions while in office, is the the norm for Jensen.  We already have to deal with developers and big corporations that duck responsibility for systematically destroying biodiversity, land, air, and water quality, and who ignore, disrespect, and seek to diminish tribal treaty rights.  We don’t need another person in elected office who will be doing the same.

Facebook Google LinkedIn Print Reddit Twitter