If your county election ballot is still sitting under a pile of dirty clothes somewhere in your room, you may want to dig it out and have a look.
County elections may not seem as relevant as the presidential race, but Whatcom County voters face a lot of important decisions this month. Whatcom County will elect a new treasurer, and Bellingham will elect a new mayor. Four seats on the Bellingham City Council are being contested, as well as two seats on the Whatcom County Council.
Even if you're just a temporary Bellingham resident, these elections will have an impact on you as a student. The mayor, as well as the city and county councils, make decisions about our transportation, neighborhoods, environment, and nightlife.
“The issues that I would stress to students to look into when voting for candidates are their stances on the waterfront, development within the city, urban sprawl, and environmental issues such as Lake Whatcom water quality,” AS VP of Legislative and Governmental Affairs Erik Lowe said. “Support of public transportation is also crucial, especially with the new universal bus pass system we have established at WWU. All of these things directly influence WWU and Western students.”
In addition to candidates, there are six measures on this year's ballot. One of the measures moves to change masculine references in the City Charter to gender-neutral ones. For instance, terms like “councilmen” would be changed to include both men and women.
If you are registered to vote in Whatcom County but haven't picked up a voter's guide yet, take a look at the contested positions and read a little bit about each candidate.
Dan McShane served on the Whatcom County Council for 7 years, and has served on the Lake Whatcom Landscape Plan Committee. He has a master's degree in geology from Western. Some of McShane's top issues are neighborhood planning, clean drinking water, and citizen involvement in setting budgets.
Dan Pike has experience as a transportation planner in Skagit County and Whatcom County. He has a bachelor's degree in urban and regional planning from Western and a master's degree in public administration from Harvard University. Some of Pike's top issues are waterfront development, clean drinking water, and an increased law enforcement presence downtown.
Bellingham City Council Ward 3
Larry Farr has experience as a marketing manager and the Bellingham Parking commissioner. Some of his top issues are higher wages for local workers, affordable housing, and water quality in Lake Whatcom.
Barry Buchanan is the Whatcom County Democratic Party chairman and the former chairman of the Lettered Streets Neighborhood Association. Some of his top issues are keeping Lake Whatcom clean, waterfront redevelopment, and neighborhood and citizen involvement in government.
Bellingham City Council Ward 4
Stan Snapp is a retired division chief for the Bellingham Fire Department. He is a member of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board and a former member of the Watershed Advisory Board. Some of his top issues are safe drinking water and responsible urban development.
Damon Gray is a software developer and a former volunteer technology assistant at Birchwood Elementary School. Some of his top issues are water quality in Lake Whatcom and providing an open government.
Bellingham City Council Ward 5
Terry Bornemann has been on the city council for 2 terms and is a Whatcom County Juvenile Court probation officer. He was a co-founder of the Sehome Neighborhood Association. Some of his top issues are clean drinking water, downtown redevelopment, and waterfront redevelopment.
Bill Geyer is owner of a residential land management company and the former director of Planning and Economic Development for the City of Bellingham. Some of his top goals are family-friendly neighborhoods, a vibrant local economy, and a clean Lake Whatcom.
Whatcom County Treasurer
Steve Oliver has been the chief deputy treasurer for Whatcom County for 8 years and was on the Ferndale City Council for 2 terms.
Joe Elenbaas was a member of the Whatcom County Planning Commission.
Whatcom County Executive
Pete Kremen has been the Whatcom County Executive for 12 years and was a state representative for 12 years. One of Kremen's top goals is to preserve farmland and prevent sprawl.
Lois Garlick is the retired manager of the science education department at Western. She is a co-founder of the Clean Water Alliance and the North Cascades Audubon Society. One of her top goals is to make the government more accountable to citizens.
Whatcom County Council District 1
Chris Hatch is a former county council intern and was a civil engineer in the U.S. Air Force. He also serves on Open Space Advisory Committee, Flood Control Zone District Advisory Committee, and the Community Transportation Advisory Group at the Council of Governments.
Bob Kelly is the treasurer of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and a current member of Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council. He is also the policy director for the Nooksack Natural Resources Department.
Whatcom County Council District 2
Sam Crawford has been a Whatcom County Council member for 7 years, and was a member of the Whatcom County Planning Commission for 2 years. He owns Emerald Lake Consulting.
Ken Mann is the chairman of the Whatcom County Planning Commission and is the owner of Caspian Management.
(The information in this article comes from the Bellingham Herald, candidate websites, and the Whatcom County voter's guide.)