Local Election

What you need to know before voting for Bellingham Council Ward 5 candidates

Two residents are seeking to replace Ward 5 Bellingham City Council member Terry Bornemann, who is leaving the council after nearly 20 years.

Lisa Anderson is a member of the Planning Commission and was a finalist for the at-large position now held by Hannah Stone.

Chanan Suarez is a decorated Iraq War veteran and calls himself a Democratic Socialist.

Ward 5 includes the neighborhoods of Sehome, South Hill, Western Washington University, and parts of Happy Valley, Puget and York. 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.

These are the candidates for Bellingham’s Ward 5 City Council member:


Anderson, 54, is a program specialist in testing services at Whatcom Community College and a member of the Bellingham Planning and Community Development Commission

Bio: She is a 30-year resident of Bellingham who is married with three children and seven grandchildren. Anderson has a bachelor’s degree from Western Washington University and master’s of education and higher education administration from Western Washington University, where she worked for 10 years. She has served on Bellingham’s Shoreline Committee, the state Board for Community and Technical Colleges, the GED Advisory Committee, the York Neighborhood Association Board, and is a member of The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Local 1060. She formed the Samish Way Task Force with former state Rep. Harriet Spaniel in an effort to close Mac’s and the Aloha — motels that were linked to crime and neighborhood blight.

Neighborhood: York.

Funds raised: $12,284 including her own $3,000 in loans from herself by Sept. 18, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Funds spent: $6,488 by Sept. 18.

Largest contributors: International Association of Fire Fighters Local 106 gave $750. Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility gave $500.

An issue of personal interest to her: For Anderson, helping the working homeless is personal. “I worked with someone who was trying to put themselves through college and they are a single parent living on $1000 a month,” Anderson said. “They felt very isolated because they couldn’t go get coffee with friend or go buy clothes because they were living check to check.” Anderson said she briefly became homeless as single mother in college.

A trait that makes her uniquely suited for this position: “I have experience in community leadership. I have a track record of successful accomplishments in bring solutions for some of the areas that city council I will deal with, like creating affordable housing,” Anderson said.

Endorsements: Mount Baker Sierra Club, Bellingham Police Guild, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, Bellingham City Council members Terry Bornemann and Gene Knutson, former City Council member Louise Bjornson.

Website: Lisa Anderson for Bellingham City Council Ward 5 on Facebook.


Suarez, 37, is a bilingual customer service representative for the Social Security Administration.

Bio: He is an Iraq War veteran of the U.S. Navy with the rank of petty officer 3rd class. He served two years as a hospital corpsman in Okinawa, and three years with an infantry unit — where he was awarded a Combat Action Ribbon, a Purple Heart and the Navy Commendation Medal for saving his platoon sergeant’s life. A six-year resident of Bellingham he earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish language and literature from Western Washington University. He is an active member of the American Federation of Government Employees Local 3937.

Neighborhood: Sehome

Funds raised: $6,150 by Sept. 18

Funds spent: $4,483 by Sept. 18

Largest contributors: David Bart of Olympia gave $600. Service Employees International Union Healthcare 1199 NW gave $250.

An issue of personal interest to him: Suarez said helping homeless people in the city is important to him, “...specifically homeless LGBTQ youth in the city. I am a proud gay man,” Suarez said. “I want for there — as far as folks that are unhoused, you know — I want to see more city-operated structures, but I also want to really bring to the light how horrible the situation is for a lot of LGBTQ youth. ”

A trait that makes him uniquely suited for this position: Suarez said his military experience helped to reinforce and sharpen traits he already possessed. “I feel that my service gives me a unique perspective about how the world works that the council doesn’t necessarily have,” Suarez said.

Endorsements: Riveters Collective, Whatcom County Democratic Socialists of America.

Website: Chanan Suarez for Bellingham City Council on Facebook.

Lisa Anderson’s fundraising totals and Chanan Suarez’ age and service branch were corrected Sept. 20, 2019.

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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.