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.