Politics & Government

Election Views: Charter commission candidates Michele Stelovich, Ken Bell and Eileen Sobjack

District 1: Michele Stelovich

I am running for Charter Review Commission, District 1, because I believe it is important that citizens actively participate in their government. This county continues to grow and charter needs to reflect the changes in our community. It is reviewed every 10 years and this is the opportunity to re-examine the charter to benefit the people of Whatcom County.

I choose to move to Whatcom County over 6 years ago for smaller town ways, beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities. I have served as Washington Federation of State Employees Local 1060 president for the past five years and Northwest Washington Central Labor Council secretary treasurer for the last four years. I work with individuals who have a developmental disability and live in their own homes and have a job. I have proven leadership abilities and knowledge of development of constitutions and policies. I have actively worked on campaigns to improve the lives of working people through minimum wage campaigns, preserving Social Security and six-day mail delivery and safe working conditions in places of employment. I have coordinated four counties Labor Neighbor political campaigns to get candidates elected who support working families. In Whatcom County, we need to preserve our natural resources and create living wage jobs so families can continue to work and thrive in our community.

I believe as Charter Review Commissioner I will do a good job representing the people of District 1. I hope you will vote for me on Nov. 4.

District 2: Ken Bell

There is no more important task for the Charter Review Commission than that of protecting the rights of our county residents to be able to live and work in our communities without interference from over regulation. After three years as part of the Planning Commission it has become clear to me that we need to be vigilant in our effort to keep Whatcom County a place for free enterprise, market economics and sensible regulation. Our framing document should make it easier to farm, create business opportunities and live on our property — not harder and more complicated.

The farmer will not be successful if we continue to create conditions that infringe on their ability to work their land. The businessman will not be successful if we continue to create a regulatory structure that inhibits their ability to grow or build their companies. Landowners will continue to feel the squeeze of excessive regulations on their property that will reduce their ability to work and play on their property.

The commission needs a voice from the business community so that we do not create conditions that would send jobs and opportunities out of our community.

I am the owner of Best Recycling and we have been doing business in Whatcom County for over 20 years. My company currently works in the most remote locations in the world cleaning up the messes that others make. We move over 3 million pounds of waste, recyclable materials and equipment from the Antarctic continent for the National Science Foundation. We are actively involved in developing equipment to assist in cleaning up the waste created from oil fracturing operations in North Dakota.

I have been married for over 20 years with two daughters, one in her junior year in high school, the other in her second year at Northwest University in Kirkland. My business could have been located anywhere in the world but we chose to make this our home because of what this community has to offer. It is a fantastic place to raise a family.

I want to be a voice for making sure that our County Council is a reflection of the entire county, a voice for a strong, elected county executive and I want to ensure that we do not introduce language into our charter that would have the county in constant litigation.

District 3: Eileen Sobjack

My name is Eileen Sobjack and I want to represent you on the Charter Review Commission, District Three, to make a difference in our county.

Do you know that Whatcom is one of only several counties in Washington with a county constitution called the charter? Our charter gives control to the people over county affairs, not the state legislature. That is local government.

There’s more good news! This election season you and I have an opportunity to make our voices heard at the local level. You will vote for five citizens from your district to represent you on the Charter Review Commission. A total of 15 people will be elected to review our charter, listen to citizen input and make recommendations for any changes.

As your Charter Review Commissioner, I will uphold the important principles of the nine articles of the charter. I believe it is crucial to preserve the overall integrity of this document. For example, article 5 of the charter gives citizens a voice through petition with initiative or referendum and I will protect it.

I bring many years of leadership experience serving on boards at the local and national level. My experience also includes working with committees on bylaws. It will be important for you to choose people who are willing to research the charter and the effects of any proposed changes.

When elected to the Charter Review Commission, my priority will be to listen carefully to your concerns and speak up for you. I am eager to hear your thoughts and ideas regarding county government. I hope you will go the Whatcom County website and become familiar with the charter.

I am committed to be a voice for Whatcom County. My husband’s great grandparents settled in Whatcom County over 100 years ago for a better life, today our children live and work here and our grandchildren are growing up here. We have reaped the benefits of this unique, diverse county so I want to contribute my part by serving on the Charter Review Commission.

My leadership experience includes; elected executive officer for a national board, longtime volunteer, former teacher and past owner of a commercial fishing business. I will work hard to represent you and appreciate your vote for Charter Review Commissioner, District Three. Vote for only five candidates. Eileen Sobjack is number nine on the ballot. Contact me at esobjack@gmail.com.