A recent mailer sent by the Whatcom Republicans picks up the theme embraced by everyone active in the County Council campaigns: This election is of life-and-death importance.
The very future of the county is in jeopardy, the mailer implies, if the four progressive candidates endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats -- Rud Browne, Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann and Carl Weimer -- are elected. "If you let extremists have their way," the flier states, the county's industrial lands will look like today's Georgia Pacific mill site -- abandoned and decaying. This would be thanks to a Democratic Party resolution, passed this summer, calling for no more development at Cherry Point, "to honor the Lummi Nation's sacred lands and waters of Cherry Point."
*** I didn't mention when I first posted this that the Republicans misrepresented the Dem resolution. "They voted to remove all jobs from Cherry Point," the flier says. Yikes. The resolution only calls for no additional development there. But hey -- at least they got "jobs" in the sentence. Thanks to Natalie McClendon for reminding me of this. ***
The Democrats moved the resolution to a different link on their website -- accessible above or by finding in their website news reel the story from the June meeting, where the link is correct. County Chairman Mike Estes told me they moved the link to confound the Republicans, who printed the old link on the aforementioned flier. If you go to that old link you find this.
Because the four Dem-endorsed council candidates are being associated with the party resolution, I figured it was worth asking them if they supported it.
After all, the council positions are nonpartisan, so there is no automatic assumption that the candidates have adopted any of the party's platform. Lisa McShane of Whatcom Wins, the arm of the Dem Party working on the four campaigns, said the only relevant connection the candidates have with the party is that they sought its endorsement -- but so did the four on the other side: Bill Knutzen, Kathy Kershner, Ben Elenbaas and Michelle Luke. McShane told me I should also ask them their position on the Dem resolution, considering they were also interested in getting the party's endorsement.
I took a shortcut and put Knutzen, et al. down as "no" on stopping all development at Cherry Point. (Knutzen told me as much.)
Among the four progressives, I heard this:
Browne: He expressed opposition to me a week or so ago, so my notes aren't right in front of me. I heard he made a public statement against the resolution early on.
Weimer: He doesn't support it. He wasn't at the meeting where the resolution was adopted and had no warning it was coming, he said.
Mann: He wasn't at that party meeting, either. "I found out about it a couple of days later and my public statement at the time and at forums has been, I respect the concerns that the Lummi Nation has for any traditional or sacred grounds in that area. I believe the Democrats' resolution was extreme and irresponsible, and I would never support that resolution on the council."
"When I do win -- and I expect to win," Mann continued, "what do the Democrats expect any responsible leader to do with that resolution? It's not logical."
Buchanan: He also thought the resolution was out of bounds. "I understand the spirit of the resolution … but I think it just went too far," Buchanan said.
Estes said he introduced the resolution at the June meeting because he thought the Democrats could jump on a train that already had been put together by a coalition of churches. He liked the concept of the resolution, he said, but it needed work.
"My intention was to start a dialogue and recraft it to be more appropriate for us," Estes said. "This resolutions a little too strongly worded for what our actual intention was.”
Estes could not attend the July meeting, where the resolution was adopted, due to a family medical emergency -- so he wasn't there to shepherd it through properly.