Local Election

Here’s what you need to know about the state Senate candidates for the 40th District

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.

State Sen. Liz Lovelett, an Anacortes Democrat, will be defending her 40th Legislative District seat against three challengers in a confirmation vote that’s required because she was appointed to the post in February. She replaced Kevin Ranker who resigned in January amid sexual harassment allegations.

Ranker was elected in 2016, so the 40th District state Senate seat is open again in 2020, and whoever wins will face another election race next year.

The 40th District includes San Juan County and parts of Skagit and Whatcom counties.

Two key opponents — Republican Michael Petrish and Democrat Rud Browne — have withdrawn from the race.

Lovelett’s remaining challengers are Daniel Miller, a Friday Harbor Republican; Greta Aitken, a Burlington Democrat; and Carrie Blackwood, a Bellingham Democrat.

The top two winners of the Aug. 6 primary will advance to the Nov. 5 election regardless of party affiliation.

The position pays $48,731 annually.

Primary ballots were 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 40th District state Senate seat:

Greta Aitken

Aitken is 45, is a tax preparer and a single mother of five children, ages 5 to 22. She is running as a Democrat.

Bio: Aitken was born in Lima, Peru, and graduated from high school in Tacoma in 1993. She graduated from the University of Washington in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in politics. She is a certified Spanish interpreter and interned at KATU-TV in Portlkand, Ore. She is vice president of the Washington state chapter of the Association of Peruvian Institutions in the United States of America and Canada, raising funds for indigenous people of Peru.

Neighborhood: Burlington.

Funds raised or spent: No reports filed by July 19.

In her words: “I decided to run for Senate to make changes to our current chemical-dependency system that is failing to decrease the number of teens getting into drugs and the consequences as a result of drug use. Also, I am motivated to aid the homeless, the needy in housing problems. Also, we live in a country full of surplus, wealth, opportunity. Why are there so many families struggling to pay their rent, to live in dignified housing, or people just plainly homeless? This issue needs to be addressed along with solutions.”

Website: Greta Aitken on Facebook

Carrie Blackwood

Blackwood, 47, is a labor and employment lawyer with Barron Smith Daugert of Bellingham and a senior adjunct professor of labor studies at Fairhaven College at Western Washington University. She is running as a Democrat.

Bio: She is married with two children. She has a bachelors degree from the Fairhaven College Law Diversity and Justice Program at Western Washington University and completed her law degree at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. She is a member of Whatcom Women Lawyers, the bar associations of Washington, Whatcom County and Skagit County, and has been involved in Happy Valley YIMBY, Community to Community, the Bellingham Home Fund, Initiative 1639 and WWU’s MEChA, a Mexican-American student group.

Neighborhood: Happy Valley in Bellingham.

Funds raised: $31,141 through July 19, mostly individual donations.

Funds spent: $28,713 through July 19.

Largest contributors: Kirsten Barron gave $2,000, Sallye Quinn gave $1,200. Andrea J. Leebron-Clay and Profession and Technical Employees Local 17 PAC each contributed $1,000.

She says: “(I am) running because too many are suffering in the midst of abundance and prosperity, and we need progressive champions to break through the status quo. As our state senator, (I) will press for restructuring our regressive tax system, fully funding education, health care for all, and bold climate action.”

Endorsements: Riveters Collective; National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington; Jeremiah “Jay” Julius, chairman of the Lummi Nation; Whatcom County Council member Barry Buchanan; Bellingham City Council member April Barker.

Website: CarrieBlackwood.com, Carrie Blackwood for WA on Facebook.

Liz Lovelett

Lovelett, 39, is the 40th District’s state senator. She is running as a Democrat.

Bio: She is a mother of young two children and a fifth-generation resident of the area. She graduated with honors from Anacortes High and Skagit Valley College and is attending Western Washington University.

Before her appointment to the Senate in February, she served five years on the Anacortes City Council. She is former owner of The Business in Anacortes — a combination record and bookstore, cafe and music and art venue. She has served as a board member of the Anacortes Farmers Market, on the Skagit Marine Resources Committee, the Population Health Trust of Skagit, and twice as the president of the Whitney PTA.

In the state Senate she serves on the Transportation and Local Government committees.

Neighborhood: Anacortes.

Funds raised: $37,598 through July 19, with a little more than half from individual donors and the other half a mix of contributions from PACs, party organizations and business.

Funds spent: $19,844 through July 19.

Largest contributors: Washington Education Association PAC, the Kennedy Fund, and Justice for All each gave $2,000. The SEIU Care Committee gave $1,000 and the state Democratic Party made an in-kind contribution of $1,394.

She says: “(I am) running to be the 40th Legislative District’s environmental champion in Olympia by preserving the open spaces, beaches, and wildlife that are the cornerstones of our region; fighting for social justice as we face the existential threat of climate change; and planning for the energy and transportation needs of the neighborhoods and industries of tomorrow. Additionally, (I am) running to be a housing and homeless advocate through strategic affordable housing planning and investments in community services and public health.”

Endorsements: 40th Legislative District Democrats, Washington State Labor Council, Washington Education Association, SEIU Healthcare 1999 and 925, Anacortes Firefighters IAFF Local 1537, National Women’s Political Caucus, Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson.

Website: LizLovelett.org, Sen. Liz Lovelett, and Liz Lovelett for Senate on Facebook.

Daniel Miller

Miller is owner of New England Collectibles in Friday Harbor. He is running as a Republican.

Bio: He was raised in Friday Harbor and has a bachelor’s degree in public policy and environmental studies from Evergreen State College. He ran for the 40th District state Senate seat in 2016, losing to Kevin Ranker by a margin of 74% to 24%. He has participated in Relay for Life, which raises funds to fight cancer.

Neighborhood: Friday Harbor.

Funds raised and spent: No reports filed.

He says: “Some things (I) would like to do in Olympia is work on keeping down taxes and fees, work on protecting free speech and freedom and liberty and keeping the 40th District a great place to live.”

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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.