BELLINGHAM - Roxanne Murphy and Pinky Vargas rolled up big margins in the first round of vote-counting for the Bellingham City Council.
Vargas was leading Clayton Petree 63 percent to 37 percent in the race for a four-year term representing the 4th Ward. She appears certain to replace Stan Snapp, who took office in 2007 and steps down at the end of 2013.
"It's been an incredible journey and I'm excited and honored to have this opportunity," Vargas said Tuesday night, Nov. 5, after the first vote counts came in.
Murphy had an even bigger margin in her race against Bob Burr, 74 to 26 percent, for a two-year term in the at-large seat being vacated by Seth Fleetwood.
"I just want to stand by the values we need to continue to fight for," Murphy said. She listed Lake Whatcom preservation, an improved business climate and public safety.
Both Murphy and Vargas were backed by the strong coalition of liberals and progressives that nearly always wins in city races.
Vargas, 46, is energy efficiency manager for Puget Sound Energy. Her opponent Petree, 40, is a self-employed consultant and writer.
Murphy, 37, is assistant administrator for the Nooksack Indian Tribe. She took a strong position against the Gateway Pacific Terminal coal export facility proposed for Cherry Point, and reported about $13,000 in campaign contributions.
Burr, 71, is a retired insurance executive and community activist who went even farther in stressing his opposition to coal exports. In December 2011, he was one of 12 people arrested on trespassing and obstruction charges during an anti-coal protest that briefly blocked BNSF Railway Co. tracks in Bellingham. He said his outrage over the current council's decision to block a public vote on a coal train ban gave him all the reason he needed to enter the race.
Burr refused to raise campaign cash, saying he believed money has too much influence in politics.