Local Election

Whatcom County executive candidates offer support to one vote leader on day 2 of count

Top Whatcom County and Bellingham primary election leaders

After the initial ballot count for the Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, primary election, these are the "top two" candidates who will move forward to the Nov. 5 general election in Whatcom County, Wash.
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After the initial ballot count for the Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, primary election, these are the "top two" candidates who will move forward to the Nov. 5 general election in Whatcom County, Wash.

Businessman Tony Larson and Whatcom County Council member Satpal Sidhu held their leads for Whatcom County executive in Tuesday’s primary election.

A count of ballots released at 4:35 p.m. Wednesday in Washington state’s vote-by-mail election showed Larson held the lead with 37% of the vote, followed by Sidhu with 34%.

Karen Burke was third with 21%, followed by Jim Boyle in fourth place with 7%.

Only the two candidates with the most votes advance to the Nov. 5 general election.

Both Sidhu and Burke ran as Democrats, even though the county executive post is non-partisan.

Larson, the publisher of Business Pulse magazine and president of the Whatcom Business Alliance, was endorsed by the Whatcom Republicans.

In an interview Wednesday with The Bellingham Herald, Sidhu said he talked with Burke and Boyle after the initial ballot count Tuesday night, and he said he expected their support for the November campaign.

“I’m very excited,” Sidhu said. “I called Karen and Jim. Everyone’s ready to endorse me. I’m very encouraged.”

Sidhu said he hoped to meet with Larson soon.

Boyle offered his “full support” to Sidhu in an interview Wednesday with The Herald.

“I want to thank my supporters,” Boyle said. “It was a remarkable experience and we’re thankful to everyone we got to know along the way.”

In an email, Burke thanked those who voted for her and worked on her campaign, saying she was “honored and humbled” by the experience.

“I spoke to Satpal last night to wish him well and offer my support and endorsement,” said Burke, who is executive director of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services.

Larson wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday, but in an interview Tuesday night he said his campaign would take some time to consider its options for the November race.

“After Labor Day, that’s when people will start honing in,” he said.

Wednesday’s count included ballots received by mail Wednesday and ballots that were deposited in drop boxes Tuesday afternoon and evening and collected Wednesday morning, said Chief Deputy Auditor Diana Bradrick.

Turnout for Tuesday’s primary was 37% of Whatcom County’s 147,254 registered voters, according to the Auditor’s Office website.

Some 19 people took advantage of the state’s new same-day voter registration, said Elections Division worker Jessie Smiley.

In other Whatcom County races:

Whatcom County Council District 4

Kathy Kershner was leading with 69% of the vote in the district that covers north-central Whatcom County, including Lynden, Everson, Nooksack and Sumas. Brian Estes was in second place with 18% and Brad Kelly was in third with 13%.

Whatcom County Council District 5

Ben Elenbaas was leading at 53% in the district that covers western and coastal Whatcom County, including Ferndale, Blaine and the Lummi Reservation. Natalie McClendon was in second place with 29% and Jaime Arnett was in third with 18%.

Whatcom County Council at-large (position B)

County Council member Carol Frazey was leading with 57% for the seat she currently holds.

David Ramirez was in second with 29% and Bill LaFreniere was third with 7%.

Brett Bonner, who announced that he would stop campaigning in May after admitting that he sexually harassed a woman online, was in fourth place with less than 7%.

Disclosures about Bonner came too late for him to legally withdraw, but he didn’t submit a statement for the voter guide, Bradrick said.

Bonner also didn’t raise funds for his campaign.

In an interview last week, Bonner said that he didn’t expect to place in the top two.

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