Local Election

Here’s what Bellingham voters need to know before voting for Ward 1 council candidates

Bellingham City Council member Hannah Stone is running against Elizabeth Hartsoch, a co-founder of the Riveters Collective, a progressive political group that formed after the 2016 presidential election, for the Bellingham City Council Ward 1 seat.

Stone was appointed to the council in October 2018 to fill the vacant at-large seat, but is now running for the Ward 1 seat.

Bellingham City Council Ward 1 includes the Birchwood neighborhood, most of Cordata and Meridian, plus part of Columbia — where both candidates live. It’s now represented by April Barker, whose term is ending and who is running for mayor.

With just two candidates, the seat was not on the Aug. 6 primary ballot.

The non-partisan, part-time position pays $26,000 annually during the four-year term. The rate rises 3% annually according to Bellingham Municipal Code, for $27,938 in 2020.

All Bellingham voters cast ballots in all wards in the general election.

General ballots will be mailed Oct. 18. Ballots don’t need a stamp but must be postmarked by Election Day. Ballot drop boxes open Oct. 18 and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day, Nov. 5.


Hartsoch, 43, is a research analyst in the Office of Survey Research at Western Washington University.

Bio: She is vice president of the board of Riveters Collective. Hartsoch and her children are dedicated bicyclists, riding to school and work. She is founder and project manager for the Viking eBike project, and volunteer for the Community Meal Program, Sterling Bike Works, Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, Ride Run and Dig, school bike rodeos, and Walk Bike Bus Bellingham. Four generations of her family live in Ward 1. She holds a master’s degree in geography, geographic information systems and cartography from the University of Montana and bachelor’s degree in biology from Gonzaga University.

Neighborhood: Columbia.

Funds raised: $10,521 through Sept. 16, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Funds spent: $3,760 through Sept. 16.

Largest contributors: Washington State Democrats gave Hartsoch $772. Brian Mulligan of Bellingham gave $810. County Council member Carol Frazey gave $100.

An issue of personal interest to her: “In my vision, in the next five years we will prioritize and build infrastructure that makes it safe for kids to get to school,” Hartsoch said. “When I say that, what I mean is, safe for that age, for that kid that goes to the school. So, the route to an elementary school should be safe for a 5-year-old. Not every route, but there should be a route that’s safe.”

A trait that makes her uniquely suited for this position: Hartsoch said her ability to unpack and understand data and statistics will make her uniquely suited for the position. “So often people can be misled with statistics, and the resistance to being misled with statistics is something we need in all of our elected officials,” she said.

Endorsements: 42nd District state Rep. Sharon Shewmake, D-Bellingham, says “I think she is data-driven and is gonna fix the problems everyone wants fixed.” Shewmake also mentioned Hartsoch’s commitment to safe bicycle infrastructure as a reason for her endorsement. Hartsoch is also endorsed by Whatcom County Council member Carol Frazey, former Council member Tim Ballew II and the Riveters Collective.

Website: Beth for Bellingham on Facebook.


Stone, 42, is an at-large member of the City Council and an immigration lawyer in private practice.

Bio: She is married with two school-age children and moved to Bellingham with her family in 2005. She has a law degree from the University of North Carolina, and a bachelor’s degree in international studies and Spanish from Meredith College. She chairs the council’s Justice Committee and serves on the Finance, Personnel and Economic Development and Public Safety committees. She is a liaison with the school district, the Opportunity Council and the Whatcom Museum Foundation, and is a member of the Homeless Strategies Work Group and as a proxy to the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Task Force. She was co-chair of Citizens for Bellingham Schools, which organized to support the passage of a $155 million school bond measure in 2018.

Neighborhood: Columbia.

Funds raised: $14,494, as of Sept. 16.

Funds spent: $9,138, as of Sept. 16.

Largest contributors: Gregory Lagestee donated $1,000 to Stone’s campaign. Washington State Democrats gave Stone $772. She also donated $1,879 to her own campaign and received $100 from Bellingham mayor Kelli Lindville.

An issue of personal interest to her: Because of her work as an immigration attorney, Stone said creating a community of acceptance will be an important part of her work as a city council member. “...Through my work as an immigration attorney I have stayed connected, obviously, with immigrant communities here locally,” Stone said. “The hope is the council and the city can take strides to really just create a culture and a climate that’s truly accepting.”

A trait that makes her uniquely suited for this position: Being able to see all sides is one of the reasons Stone said she became an attorney and thinks it will continue to serve her well as a member of the City Council. “For better or worse, being able to look at sort of all sides of an issue almost equally, but being able to see pros and cons of all sides, and then hopefully being able to find some solid middle ground.”

Endorsements: City Council member Gene Knutson says “I was very impressed by Hannah the first time I met her during the selection process for the vacant at-large position. In less than a year, Hannah has done a great job as a new council member. She asks tough questions and treats everybody with respect as we tackle the issues that face Bellingham. She also showed that she really wants to earn a council seat, by not taking the easy way. She is putting herself out there running in an open seat rather than running in the at-large position we appointed her to. Hannah is an up-and-coming rising star, and I really enjoy working with her. Bellingham needs her to remain on the council.”

She is also endorsed by Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville, Western Washington University Professor of Political Science Vernon Damani Johnson, the Sierra Club and the Riveters Collective.

Website: Vote Hannah Stone on Facebook.

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Warren Sterling in a graduate of Reed College of Media at West Virginia University. He interned at Politifact.com before joining The Bellingham Herald as a summer 2019 intern.
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.