Local Election

What to know before voting for 1 of 3 candidates for Bellingham’s at-large council seat

Here’s what you need to know about Whatcom’s 2019 primary election

With 136 public offices on the ballot this August, you’ll want to pay attention to these changes as Election Day approaches.
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With 136 public offices on the ballot this August, you’ll want to pay attention to these changes as Election Day approaches.

Three people are running for the at-large City Council post currently held by Hannah Stone, who is running for Ward 1.

Hollie Huthman has lived in seven different Bellingham neighborhoods.

Dana Briggs said he is homeless despite having a job.

Von Emeth Ocha also describes himself as among the working poor, without permanent housing.

The non-partisan, part-time position pays $26,000 annually during the two-year term.

The top two candidates in the Aug. 6 primary will advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Primary ballots will be mailed July 17. Ballots don’t need a stamp but must be postmarked by Election Day. Ballot drop boxes open July 17 and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Aug. 6.

These are the candidates for Bellingham’s at-large City Council member:

Dana Briggs

Briggs, 64, is a cook at St. Joseph Hospital.

Bio: He has two grown sons and three grandchildren. He has a master’s degree in management from Central Michigan University and a bachelor’s degree in geography from the U.S. Air Force Academy. He also has a certificate in nonprofit management from the University of Washington. He lived in Bellingham from 1993 to 2003 and returned in 2016. He has been an activist for housing, the environment and civil and human rights at the local and national level.

Neighborhood: Homeless.

Funds raised: No funds raised or spent filed. Briggs selected the “mini-reporting option” with the state Public Disclosure Commission, which exempts candidates from filing campaign finance reports if they don’t exceed $5,000 in contributions and take no individual donations greater than $500.

He says: “The climate emergency (change) is the only priority for the foreseeable future. This requires focus and action from all governmental levels educating and guiding the entire community. If we do not address this and take action with all urgency, no other issues will matter.”

Website: Dana Briggs for City Council on Facebook.

Hollie Huthman

Huthman, 38, is co-owner of The Shakedown/The Racket bar and lounge.

Bio: She graduated from Western Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in sociology with an emphasis in criminology, and has lived in seven different Bellingham neighborhoods over the past two decades — mostly as a renter. Huthman also worked as a lender at WECU and now chairs the board of directors of the art venue Make.Shift.

Neighborhood: Cornwall.

Funds raised: $1,821 through June 10, about $1,200 through individual contributions.

Funds spent: $350 through June 10.

Largest contributors: Huthman donated $632 to her own campaign; former at-large council member Roxanne Murphy donated $200.

She says: “I am running to ensure all residents who want to live in Bellingham can find housing, we continue to reform our criminal justice system and decrease incarceration, and our city core grows in a smart and healthy way that plans for our future.”

Endorsements: Sierra Club, 42nd District Democrats, Riveters Collective.

Website: Vote Hollie Huthman on Facebook.

Von Emeth Ochoa

Ochoa, 34, is a paraeducator in the Bellingham School District.

Bio: He moved to Bellingham in 2003 from Eastern Washington to attend Western Washington University on a scholarship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. He took two gap years that included work with Americorps crews and graduated from WWU in 2010 with an interdisciplinary degree in storytelling, dance, music and technical production. He said he suffered what he said was a mild brain injury from a crash in 2013.

Neighborhood: Without permanent housing.

Funds raised: No report filed for funds raised or spent. No contributors noted.

He says: “I am one of the diverse voices for and from the working poor and anyone with or without disabilities who is trapped in the housing gap/homelessness quicksand; third culture kids, culturally displaced peoples, and/or those with immigrant or refugee heritage who also do not have ‘white privilege’; and the LGBTQIA community.”

Website: Von for the People.org.

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Robert Mittendorf covers civic issues, weather, traffic and how people are coping with the high cost of housing for The Bellingham Herald. A journalist since 1984, he’s also a volunteer firefighter for South Whatcom Fire Authority.