Whatcom candidate charged with domestic violence

A candidate for Whatcom County Charter Review Commission was arrested last month, charged with assaulting his ex-wife in the home they shared on Locust Avenue, according to court records.

Nicholas Jaye Evans, 35, was booked into Whatcom County Jail on Sept. 14 for fourth-degree assault after pouring a beer on his ex-wife’s head and shoving her twice, according to reports written by the two deputies who responded to the ex-wife’s call.

Evans also was arrested that night for missing a court date related to a DUI in King County. He was released from the Whatcom jail on Sept. 15, after pleading not guilty to the domestic-violence charge. A tentative trial date was set for Nov. 24 — about three weeks after ballots will be counted in the races for Charter Review Commission.

The Bellingham Herald checked the criminal histories of all 48 candidates for the commission. Besides Evans, two other candidates had been charged with minor violations since 2009, and one of those cases was dismissed. A check on more serious criminal charges going back to 1999 found no cases involving charter review candidates.

Evans said in a prepared statement that he was innocent. He continued to campaign for the charter review position but resigned as political director of the Whatcom Republicans the day after he got out of jail, county party Chairman Charlie Crabtree said.

The party removed its endorsement of Evans for Charter Review Commission at the candidate’s request, Crabtree said.

“We wish Nick the best and hope he’s able to resolve his current personal issues,” Crabtree said.

The commission convenes for half a year every 10 years, to propose changes to the county charter. The charter is a sort of constitution that governs how the county is run.

Evans and his ex-wife had been drinking Sept. 14 when an argument over household finances escalated, the deputies’ reports said. Though divorced, the couple still had lived in their home with their two children. At the arraignment, a judge ordered Evans to not return to the Locust Avenue home or contact his ex-wife.

Evans provided a written statement to The Bellingham Herald:

“I have pled not guilty to the charge against me, and I maintain my innocence. While I appreciate the opportunity to respond to the allegations, I will withhold comment until the case is resolved. I would like to add that I do not condone domestic violence in any way, shape or form. I believe domestic violence is an epidemic on our society and it needs to be addressed. I never have, and never will put my hands on a woman in a violent manner.”

Regarding the warrant from King County, Evans said he didn’t receive a court notice after he moved.

“First of all, I did get a DUI over seven years ago,” Evans said in his statement. “It was a terrible mistake and I have learned from it. Drinking and driving is a horrible problem in our community. Second, when I learned I had failed to appear, I contacted King County District Court right away to clear up the issue.”

Evans’ ex-wife wasn’t reported to be injured, and Evans cooperated with deputies — though he suggested to them that he might call their boss, Sheriff Bill Elfo. Evans told the deputies he and Elfo were “personal friends,” according to the deputies’ reports.

Elfo in an interview on Tuesday, Oct. 7, said he had met Evans twice, when the charter review candidate wanted to discuss his positions with the sheriff.

“I don’t consider him a personal friend. I know nothing about his background,” Elfo said. “It’s completely inappropriate when a deputy is doing his job and trying to take someone into custody to name-drop like that. It’s not very persuasive.”

Evans will appear on ballots to be mailed next week to voters in County Council District 3, which includes northwest Bellingham, Lummi Island, Ferndale and Blaine. Voters in that district can choose up to five candidates among the 12 listed for Charter Review Commission. Forty-eight candidates are running for 15 seats on the commission, which attracts candidates with either left- or right-leaning political views.

Evans, an insurance salesman, is listed on his Facebook page as a field director for Pedro Celis’ campaign for Congress. Celis, a Republican, is running against Democrat Suzan DelBene in the 1st Congressional District, which includes north Whatcom County.

Gray Delany, communications director for the Celis campaign, said on Tuesday Evans no longer works for the campaign.

Other charter review candidates have had criminal charges filed against them recently. Bob Burr was arrested in December 2011 in Bellingham on trespassing and obstructing charges, accused of blocking the railroad tracks to prevent coal trains from reaching Canadian ports.

Burr and a few of the other “Bellingham 12” who were arrested in the anti-coal protest pleaded guilty in February 2014 to a noise infraction, Burr said by phone on Monday, Oct. 6. The defendants were sentenced to 10 hours of community service but were credited for service work they had already done, Burr said.

“We got off without any penalty whatsoever,” said Burr, who ran an unsuccessful campaign for Bellingham City Council in 2013. Burr also is on the November 2014 ballot for commissioner of the Public Utility District of Whatcom County.

One other misdemeanor came up in a search of charter review candidates’ district and municipal court records, dating back to 2009. Joe Elenbaas of Smith Road was cited in May 2013 for having livestock roaming unattended on public land or a public roadway. The charges were dismissed in June 2014.

None of the 48 candidates had been charged with a felony in the past 15 years, background checks showed.