Local Election

What you should know about the candidates who want to represent Whatcom’s rural areas

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 candidates are running for the open Whatcom County Council District 4, a new region that’s mostly been represented by Barbara Brenner since she was elected in 1991.

Brenner isn’t running for re-election after nearly three decades on the council.

District 4 covers north-central Whatcom County east of Ferndale and Blaine, including a part of north Bellingham and the cities of Lynden, Everson, Nooksack and Sumas.

Voters approved ballot measures in 2016 that changed districts starting in 2017 that created five districts with one representative elected from each district and two at-large positions elected by voters countywide.

The non-partisan, part-time position pays $31,867 annually during the four-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 the District 5 Whatcom County Council position:

Brian Estes

Estes, 66, is a real estate broker with RSVP Real Estate.

Bio: Estes is married with three grown children. He worked for the Government Accountability Office, the auditing watchdog on Congress, for 30 years and at the King County Auditor’s Office for six years, evaluating government programs for efficiency and effectiveness. He volunteers as a legislative advocate for the National Alliance on Mental Illness of Whatcom County, and is a member of the Arc of Whatcom County. He holds a master’s in Public Administration from the Evans School of Public Policy and Governance, University of Washington, and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UCLA.

Neighborhood: Cordata area of Bellingham.

Funds raised: $7,368 through July 3, including $6,000 that Estes loaned his campaign

Funds spent: $784 through July 3.

Largest contributors: Nathan Carnes of Bellingham gave a $200 in-kind donation and Alta Toler of Lynden gave $100.

Estes says: “We in Whatcom County are a hardworking, caring and compassionate community and rural Whatcom County is changing — our community, our farmers, our families, our rural cities face some daunting challenges. Uncertainty over water resources; farmers struggling to pass their livelihood on to future generations; families struggling with unaffordable housing and child care costs; and many who work full-time struggle financially. We need a representative on the County Council that will stand up on these issues and stand up for the people and families in the ‘Farmlands District.’ ”

Endorsements: Whatcom Democrats; 42nd Legislative District Democrats; Washington Conservation Voters; state Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham; and Whatcom County council members Carol Frazey and Satpal Sidhu.

Website: Vote Brian Estes on Facebook.

Brad Kelly

Kelly, 48, is a self-employed owner of Kelly’s Piano Service Inc.

Bio: He and his wife are lifelong residents of Whatcom County. They have four children, including two sons who are attending Western Washington University and two daughters who attend Meridian public schools. Kelly attended Lynden Christian Schools and the University of Wyoming. He and his family are active in their church ministry and the community.

Neighborhood: Rural Whatcom County between Ferndale and Laurel.

Funds raised: $3,404 through July 3.

Funds spent: $957 through July 3.

Largest contributors: Kelly donated $1,000 to his campaign. Whatcom County Affordable Housing Council gave $1,000. Leslie Kelly of Gallatin, Tenn., gave $500.

Kelly says: “Business and industry are two of the main drivers of our local economy and provides most of the jobs. When elected, I will immediately work on repealing the Cherry Point moratorium. We need to keep and encourage these good-paying jobs for the people of Whatcom County.”

Website: Brad Kelly for County Council on Facebook and VoteBradKelly.com.

Kathy Kershner

Kershner, 54, is a self-employed quality assurance evaluator for programs serving adults with developmental disabilities through her business Advocations.

Bio: She is married with two grown children, a teenage son at home, and two grandchildren. She retired from the U.S. Navy as a lieutenant after 22 years, rising from enlisted ranks to officer as an anti-submarine warfare specialist and operations officer. She earned a bachelor of science degree from the University of Hawaii and is a small business owner and an advocate for people with developmental disabilities. She was elected to the Whatcom County Council in 2009, serving until 2013. She served as the County Council chair, Flood Control District Board of Supervisors chair, Board of Health chair, and North Sound Mental Health Advisory board chair. She also served on the Council Finance Committee, Whatcom Council of Governments, Airport Advisory Committee, and Election Canvassing Board. Kershner is a member of the VFW Auxiliary, Daughters of the American Revolution, and participates with Lynden Youth Sports. She is also chair of the Whatcom Republicans.

Neighborhood: Lynden.

Funds raised: $15,978 through July 3.

Funds spent: $69 through July 3.

Largest contributors: Mark Shintaffer and Nick Kaiser of Bellingham and six other individuals all donated $1,000 each. The Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild donated $750.

She says: “Small towns like Sumas, Everson, Nooksack, and Lynden are often overlooked by the current council. The council lacks understanding of the needs of our rural and agriculture communities and that frequently results in a council that supports policies that imperil our family traditions and way of life. I’m committed to ensuring that all of us living in small towns are represented on the council and that the rural areas of the county have a voice.”

Endorsements: Lynden Mayor Scott Korthuis, Everson Mayor John Perry, Sumas Mayor Kyle Christensen, Blaine Mayor Bonnie Onyon, Ferndale Mayor Jon Mutchler, Nooksack Mayor Jim Ackerman, Whatcom County Fire District 7 Firefighters, Whatcom County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, and the Whatcom County Republican Party.

Website: Vote Kathy Kershner on Facebook.

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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.