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85 County Single Candidate Elections

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• In Elections,

Final Update: 6 pm Friday

All Bellingham council candidates plus the mayor are running unopposed. All. All four county government department heads are running unopposed - sheriff, auditor, treasurer and assessor. At the last minute, Joy Gilfilen filed to run against Jack Louws for county executive. Of the three county council races, two will have a contest, and one will have a primary. So, of these 13 major county elections, only 3 will be actual elections. The other 10 can celebrate now.

Bill McCallum of the Whatcom Watch sent over some research he did. He evaluated the 4 city council seats, the mayor, the 3 county seats and the county executive - 10 in all. In 1995, seven of the 10 races were on the primary ballot. In 1999, four of the 10 were on the primary ballot. In 2003 and 2007, three of 10 were on the primary ballot. In 2011, two of 10 were on the primary ballot. Well now, this year of 2015, only one is on the primary ballot. We have a trend.

I wonder if we have ever had so many uncontested races for major offices.

One hot and very late developing open seat is for the Bellingham School Board. Dr. Ken Gass is retiring after 17 years on the board. On Monday, Anthony Wallace, a local self employed marketing guy, filed. Today, Friday, 4 others filed for the same seat. A 5th almost filed late today but did not seeing that there were others opposing Tony. I'm sure we will soon learn the why of this.

That concludes filing week. Now on to the primary election. Ballots will be mailed two months from today on July 15 with results tallied on August 4.

Update: 1:50 pm Friday

LLoyd Zimmerman of Ferndale has filed for port commissioner. We will have a primary election in the 3rd county district for this seat to choose two of the three for the general election in November. It is between Gary Jensen, Bobby Briscoe and now Lloyde Zimmerman.

All four city of Bellingham council seats, plus the mayor, are still one candidate each. Amazing. Next update about 5 pm after the close of filing.

Update: 10:30 am Friday

Kathy Kershner has filed for county 2nd district council seat - to oppose Satpal Sidhu, who was appointed by the council to the vacant seat a few months ago. This will be a headline race and a mighty tussle between the conservatives in the rural county for Kathy, and the moderates and moderate liberals for Satpal.

All Bellingham seats are still unopposed - the mayor and all four council seats.

Being mayor of Ferndale is apparently a very attractive idea. Five candidates are now registered for the position.

Will watch and post as more develops today - and a final post after filing closed this afternoon at 4 pm online, and 4:30 for in person filing at the court house.

Update: posted at 3 pm Thursday

Bruce Ayers has filed for county council, giving the 1st county district a primary election. Bruce will run against Todd Donovan and Theresa Sygitowicz for the seat being left by Pete Kremen. Bruce will probably be focused on support for Sheriff Elfo's jail preferences and for the coal port. He is very conservative. He served on the Bellingham city council back in the 1990s. And he was the campaign manager for Sheriff Elfo in his last election. Expect a spirited campaign for this county council seat.

Below posted at 2 pm, Thursday, May 14

As of early afternoon today over 90 elected positions have only one candidate. Maybe we will see a rush of filings in the last 26 hours, with filing ending tomorrow at 4 pm. The raw numbers as of 1:30 pm today are 107 candidates have filed for 96 offices.

Four candidates have filed for mayor of Ferndale, leaving only seven other elections with two candidates. As of now, there will be no primary election for anyone living in Bellingham and much of the rural county. Indeed, only the Ferndale mayor contest will see a primary - as filings stand now.

Online filing has changed how potential candidates plan and act. In the “old days” - ten years ago - the newspaper would always display a photo on the front page of the Tuesday paper of the first candidate to register Monday morning. And most candidates would file by mid week as it took a trip to the court house and a bit of time. And it would take time before all those who filed for an office were made public - usually the next day in the paper.

Now, a potential candidate can monitor the filings in real time - within seconds or minutes - on the auditor candidate filing web page. It displays almost instantly who has filed. Political groups can communicate - via text, phone, email and social media - about who has filed and who might file. At the auditor office, the counter is pretty empty. Around the county are people watching the web page.

What is significant at this moment? Here is my take.

Bobby Briscoe, a third generation Blaine fisherman, has filed for Port Commissioner this morning. He will run against Ferndale mayor Gary Jensen. The are going for the seat Jim Jorgensen is retiring from. While Gary is well known and well liked, his pro coal terminal stances are the flash point for many county citizens. The fishermen are all well acquainted with the layer of coal dust - sludge really - on the bottom of the Straits of Georgia from the modest sized coal docks at the Canadian Tsawwassen port. They know our county fishing waters will get coated with the coal droppings if the Cherry Point coal docks are permitted.

Only one of the three county council races has two candidates. Todd Donovan and Theresa Sygitowicz are running for the seat that Pete Kremen is leaving. (I'll not say retiring.) Satpal Sidhu is so far unopposed in the second district. We all expect that to change, as the county conservatives will surely put someone up against him.

All our county administrative offices are unopposed, with the four incumbents running for reelection.

In Bellingham, the mayor and all four council seats have only one candidate each. April Barker has filed for the Ward 1 seat that Jack Weis is leaving. She has no opposition.

All through the small towns, and the school, fire, water, cemetery, park and hospital districts there are only three with contests. All the rest are shoo-ins.

Ferndale is the exception. Four candidates have filed for mayor and one of the four council seats actually has two candidates.

I will update this article over the next 30 hours as the filing period closes and we take stock of our options.

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

Bob Burr

May 15, 2015

I sincerely hope that this is the calm before the storm. Democracy depends on its citizenry to step up and run. The sad thing is that even the rumor mill is quiet. If you are an active complainer about any of our government bodies, do something about it. Run, complainer, Run. When Cathy Lehman stepped down from Bellingham’s City Council, there were a half dozen attractive candidates. While the appointee has performed admirably, there are other positions that these runners-up can apply for.

The top names I have heard on the Rumor mill are Kathy Kershner to oppose Satpal Sidhu to regain a seat on the Council and yours truly. Kathy would be a natural if the Republican Party can forgive her for her wise vote on the re-conveyance. As for me, my announcement party is winding down and all attendees are sworn to secrecy until I have given Ralph Schwartz an exclusive a couple hours from now. For those who don’t follow the Herald, I will be posting my plans on my personal Facebook page as well. The campaign Facebook page is still “under construction” but should be up before the filing clock ticks zero

Remember, you are the change you seek. So, RUN!


Walter Haugen

May 15, 2015

The huge problem in filing for public office is the cost. When it costs over $1500 to file for County Executive and over $300 to file for Ferndale Mayor, you will not get any poor people filing. In effect, you have disenfranchised a whole segment of the population. Calling for people to get off their duffs and file is disingenuous at best when it is so expensive. Even the fee of $84 for Port Commissioner is prohibitive.

Middle class people are just as clueless about real poverty as the rich people are. They grow up in a world of networks and social intimates that help them in their path through life. They get jobs “helping” the poor, mentally ill, homeless, etc. but do not realize most social help programs are really just jobs programs for the middle class.

Tom Wolfe came pretty close to understanding this in “Radical Chic and Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers” (1970).

The same can be said for voting. Castigating someone because they don’t vote is a cruel irony. What you have just done is disenfranchise them in the same manner as felons, children, and the poor.

Vote if you want to. File if you want too. But do not slam people who do not vote or participate in YOUR phony-baloney political process. They already vote with their dollars every day. Another point is to realize that YOU have an obligation to do the work (the REAL work, as Gary Snyder would say). For some of you it is participation in political parties; for some it is building alternative structures; for some it is growing food and having extra food-growing capability on hand should collapse accelerate. For some it is just surviving.

“Vote? Shit man, I have to heal up from the beating I took from the cops last night. Hey, you got a dollar?”


Luba Pekisheva

May 17, 2015

Great comment, Walter. There should be a fee waiver provision for indigent candidates.
I’m poor, and it is a purely arbitrary blessing that I can count on myself voting this election, like I did in every other election since I got here, rather than sitting in jail and/or healing from getting beat up by the cops. I’ll remember not to take this small symbolic act for granted.
A big, big shame that McEachran, Uhrig, Elich, Grant (for District Ct), and most judges in general are never opposed once they’re in; it can’t all be self-imposed fear and censorship; there must be a reason. Does anyone out there know, and preferably, have evidence, what happens to candidates who oppose the prosecutor or the prosecutor-judges?
I missed the chance to vote for Tip’s dog for prosecutor last time, and voted for my favorite write-in, Someone who is not corrupt. That candidate will be getting my vote again in the unopposed County races. If you want to send a message, choose the hypothetical Someone who is not corrupt, or let’s figure out a better write-in a lot of us can agree on.
I will vote, and get everyone I can to vote, for anyone who nominally qualifies who is not as certifiably full of s**t as Judges Elich and Uhrig. Please, lawyers, law students, anyone who wants to be paid over a 100,000, resides in this County, has a law degree, and is not full of s**t, you have years to gather your courage. Remember what happened the last time we voters actually got a choice, because Deb Garrett ran for judge? We voted in the candidate who wasn’t endorsed by the prosecutorial establishment.


Luba Pekisheva

May 17, 2015

My frustrations with past shoo-in “elected” officials aside, this time there is only one judge running, unopposed, and I don’t know enough about her work in Superior Ct thus far to know if it’s a good thing. She seems well qualified from her bios online. Has anyone had a case before, or other experience with, Judge Montoya-Lewis, especially, if your case or matter really tested her level of integrity?

And there will come a time when McEachran retires; he must be preparing a successor in his own likeness.

As far as I know, Sheriff Elfo is the most troubling shoo-in in this election cycle, and truly deserves large numbers voting for a write-in candidate, at the least, to send a message that his oversize jail proposal, and current culture at the Sheriff’s Dept, are unacceptable.
Has anyone kept in touch with Detective Steve Harris, Elfo’s last challenger? I still have a hard time comprehending how he could have lost by such a margin, as frustrated as a lot of the public were with Elfo’s policies, and wonder if there were repercussions for him.
It would be sad if he, and other capable police officers who believe in prioritizing investigating and de-escalating skills over brute force and perjury learned the wrong lesson from having rocked the boat.