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Candidate Statement: Donnell ‘Tank’ Tanksley for Sheriff

Whatcom County Sheriff is elected by all county voters, including those in Bellingham, Ferndale and other towns.

Whatcom County Sheriff is elected by all county voters, including those in Bellingham, Ferndale and other towns.


I’m Donnell ‘Tank’ Tanksley and I’m asking for your vote as Whatcom County’s next sheriff. As Sheriff, I’ll bring trusted leadership, a fresh perspective, and broad and relevant experience to the job. I currently serve as the Blaine Chief of Police, I have over 30 years of Law Enforcement experience in rural and urban areas, and I’m a retired military veteran of 22 years. 

I worked my way up through the ranks at the St. Louis, Missouri police department, and served as the Assistant Chief of Police at WWU, and the Chief of Police at Portland State University. Along the way I earned Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Management. I have extensive training that includes the FBI Executive Leadership Institute, Northwestern University School of Police & Command, and the International City/County Management Association’s High Performance Leadership Academy. I train law enforcement agencies in Fair and Impartial Policing. 

Public service is my passion. I serve on local boards such as the Mount Baker Foundation, the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center, the Bellingham-Whatcom Commission on Domestic Violence, the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force, the Emergency Management Council, and I’m a proud lifetime member of the American Legion. 

This election the voters of Whatcom County have the ability to change the direction of the Sheriff’s Office and bring trust, accountability, and a new perspective to the job. Throughout my career, I have focused on reducing and preventing crime through a proactive community-focused approach and breaking the cycle of incarceration and recidivism. As a caring community, we must address homelessness and the need for mental health care. Homelessness and mental health issues are not crimes and should not be treated as such. We cannot arrest our way out of the situation. We need to divert where appropriate while maintaining public safety and quality of life. By expanding reentry support, and services for those incarcerated, we can make sure people have the resources they need to find stable housing. We should have a balance of accountability, treatment, rehabilitation, and reintegration. 

We have to do better at reducing dangerous drugs like fentanyl in our community. Too many people are dying and this community deserves a renewed focus on safety. 

While in the military, I was a first responder to Hurricane Katrina and one of my biggest lessons was the importance of emergency preparation. The Sheriff oversees emergency response in Whatcom County and whether it’s a flood or an earthquake, a fast and well-coordinated response matters. We need to be prepared, stay on top of weather reports, and respond quickly. My team will have the support and preparation they need to be ready to help on day one. 

My endorsements include Congressman Rick Larsen, State Senators Sharon Shewmake, Liz Lovelett, Snohomish County Sheriff (Ret.), Senator John Lovick, State Representatives Alicia Rule, Joe Timmons, Debra Lekanoff, and Alex Ramel, Blaine Mayor Mary Lou Steward, All 

members of the Blaine & Bellingham City Councils, County Executive Satpal Sidhu, and County Treasurer Steve Oliver. 

Organizational endorsements include the Whatcom Democrats, VoteVets, Planned Parenthood, Pro Choice Washington, Ironworkers Local 86 Union, Machinists 751 Union, WA Education Association Union, Retired Public Employees Council, Alliance for Gun Responsibility, Washington Housing Alliance Action Fund, Nooksack Tribe, and Lummi Nation. 

For more information, please visit 

Editor note:  Each candidate for elective public office in Whatcom County is invited to submit a statement for posting on NW Citizen. For specifics, click here.

Candidate Statement: Donnell ‘Tank’ Tanksley for Sheriff

By CandidateOn Oct 19, 2023

Whatcom County Sheriff is elected by all county voters, including those in Bellingham, Ferndale and other towns.

Signing On To Medicare Advantage?  Don’t!

By Dick ConoboyOn Oct 18, 2023

Or at least, take a moment to learn about the privatization of Medicare, commonly called Medicare [Dis]Advantage.

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

Housing: Problems AND Solutions

By Guest WriterOn Oct 15, 2023

An in-depth look at local housing: insightful, researched, and provocative.

5 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Candidate Statement: Doug Chadwick for Whatcom County Sheriff

By CandidateOn Oct 02, 2023

Whatcom County Sheriff voted on by registered voters in Whatcom County

The Hazards of Metal Shredding near Bellingham: Cancer, Pollution and Fire

By Guest WriterOn Oct 02, 2023

The passage of time alone will not save Bellingham from this dangerous situation. Only strong and persistent action on the part of its citizens will be effective against this menace.

Scrap Metal Pile Includes Many Hazards and Few Benefits

By Guest WriterOn Sep 27, 2023

[Our Guest Writer, Scott Jones, is a Bellingham resident along with his family.  He is President of ...

7 comments, most recent 7 months ago

Proposed Congressional Gold Medal For The Donut Dollies Gets a Boost

By Dick ConoboyOn Sep 24, 2023

The President of the American Red Cross has come out in support of the Gold Medal for the Dollies who served in Vietnam

A Tribute to Wendy Harris

By NWCitizen ManagementOn Sep 05, 2023

We reprint the 2014 speech she gave upon accepting the Paul deArmond Award.

6 comments, most recent 8 months ago

Getting What You Pay For

By Jon HumphreyOn Aug 28, 2023

$3.5 million Point Roberts Broadband project: is it worth it?

1 comment, most recent 7 months ago

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By Dick ConoboyOn Jul 28, 2023

This legislation calls for a $5 trillion National Infrastructure Bank that will finance the nation’s infrastructure needs without involving the budget or adding to the national debt.

4 comments, most recent 8 months ago

Candidate Statement: Katherine Orlowski for County Council District 4

By CandidateOn Jul 28, 2023

Whatcom County Council District 4 position is voted for only by those living in the 4th District, the center of the county including Lynden.

1 comment, most recent 9 months ago

Candidate statement: Sukhwant Gill for County Executive

By CandidateOn Jul 24, 2023

Whatcom County Executive election, voted on by all residents of our county

Candidate Statement: Atul Deshmane for County Council

By CandidateOn Jul 14, 2023

Whatcom County Council At Large position, voted on by all residents of the county.

Support Russ Whidbee For City Council At-Large

By Dick ConoboyOn Jul 07, 2023

Experience counts.

3 comments, most recent 8 months ago

Flippin’ CityView

By Dick ConoboyOn Jun 29, 2023

The developer, who bought the property to build the private student dormitory, CityView, now has a very, very large white elephant on his hands.

3 comments, most recent 10 months ago

Define “Mandate”

By David Netboy On Jun 15, 2023

The Port contends it is mandated to increase revenue and jobs for the Port. But just what does that mean?

18 comments, most recent 10 months ago

Candidate statement: Garrett O’Brien for Bellingham City Council

By CandidateOn Jun 11, 2023

Bellingham City Council, At Large position, voted on by all residents of Bellingham.

Candidate statement: Riley Sweeney for Meridian School Board

By CandidateOn May 31, 2023

Meridian School Board election, position 5

Donut Dollies In Vietnam - Three Did Not Come Home Alive

By Dick ConoboyOn May 22, 2023

They died in Vietnam supporting and entertaining the troops. Memorial Day is for them too. So is a Congressional Gold Medal.

Letter: The Ethics of Incarceration

By Letter WriterOn May 19, 2023

Anika Sirois comments on the idea of a new jail for Whatcom County