Spring is nearly here, and the political season is starting to warm up in Bellingham.
The mayor’s seat is up for election, and so are four City Council seats, including three four-year positions and the two-year at-large seat.
A quick rundown of announcements from the incumbents: Mayor Kelli Linville and council members Dan Hammill and Roxanne Murphy are running for re-election to their respective seats, council member Terry Bornemann is likely running for re-election but will officially announce in the next week or so, and council member Jack Weiss will not run this year.
Murphy said she will again run for the at-large seat, although she considered running against newcomer Hammill, who was appointed by the council to fill the Ward 3 seat after Cathy Lehman resigned to take another job.
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“I was exploring it, comparing four years versus two years, and what I’d have to do to manage my day job and my personal life,” Murphy said. “I’m going to run for re-election for at-large, and I’m really excited about it.”
Murphy, who took office in 2014, said she thinks the most important issues facing Bellingham in the next few years are the comprehensive plan update, scheduled to be finished in 2016, and work on the city’s growth management strategies. She also said preserving Lake Whatcom is a continual goal for the council, and she’s excited to keep working on general neighborhood improvements.
Hammill has announced he will run to keep the Ward 3 seat, which he took in December 2014 after receiving the council’s sole nomination from a pool of five applicants.
“I think the comprehensive plan update for 2016 is going to be a critical piece that council will be examining and making decisions on, and then just being diligent on growth, listening to neighborhoods and understanding their perspectives on growth,” Hammill said.
As chairman of the Lake Whatcom and Natural Resources Committee, Hammill also said the lake is a critical area of focus. He has been meeting with city staff and nearby property owners to get a better handle of how much phosphorous is making its way into the lake and what can be done to further reduce those impacts.
Bornemann said he still needed to meet with some people before making a formal announcement, but he would likely run for the Ward 5 seat again, especially considering that Lehman is no longer on the council and Weiss won’t run again. Bornemann has been in office since 2000.
“A lot of people have been talking to me about having one more term to provide the institutional memory with a very new council,” he said. “There’s a strong possibility I’m going to run for another term.”
Weiss, who first ran for office in 2007, said he had planned from the get-go to accomplish what he could in two terms at the most, and he’s proud of what has been accomplished in his time on the council.
Among those accomplishments, Weiss said he was proud of passing a rental safety ordinance after working on it for at least six years (the ordinance is up for a final vote Monday, March 9), working against what he thinks is a poorly designed Port of Bellingham waterfront master plan, and working on a series of transportation issues, including helping establish the city’s Transportation Commission.
Linville said she will run again and hopes to follow through with projects started during her time as mayor.
“I think we’ve made wonderful progress, but it’s time to fully implement some of the things we’ve been working on,” she said.
Protecting Lake Whatcom, the city’s source of drinking water, moving forward with redevelopment of the waterfront, creating a capital facilities plan to use buildings wisely, and continuing to work on cleanups are among the things Linville said she wants to keep working on.
“Also, the social service investments we’re making through all neighborhoods, including downtown, to make sure they’re safe for everybody,” Linville said. “We’ve worked really hard on putting together social services in our community, trying to make sure we don’t have a revolving door. I’m quite happy with that.”
Lastly, looking at diversifying the city’s economic development is important, making sure not to rely so much on retail sales, Linville said.
“We see what happens when the Canadian dollar drops in value,” she said. “People are looking for family-wage jobs. ... That’s why I’m excited about the waterfront, with potential for high-tech manufacturing, environmental manufacturing, and higher-ed institutions, and where we can retain the businesses we already have.”
Information on filing for office can be found on the Whatcom County Auditor’s website at wei.sos.wa.gov/county/whatcom. Links to ward maps also can be found there.