Local Election

Louws wins big in Whatcom executive’s race

Whatcom County Council District 2 candidate Satpal Sidhu reacts to early election results on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham, Wash. He and his opponent, Kathy Kershner, were neck and neck to win the seat, with more votes to be counted Wednesday.
Whatcom County Council District 2 candidate Satpal Sidhu reacts to early election results on Tuesday, Nov. 3, at Chuckanut Brewery in Bellingham, Wash. He and his opponent, Kathy Kershner, were neck and neck to win the seat, with more votes to be counted Wednesday. The Bellingham Herald

Jack Louws won a second term as Whatcom County executive, given the vote count released Tuesday night, Nov. 3.

Louws, a former Lynden mayor and two-term Lynden council member, had 71 percent of the vote in early returns. His opponent, life coach Joy Gilfilen, had 29 percent.

While Gilfilen had less financial support than Louws and didn’t get the help she sought from the county Democrats, she ran a vigorous campaign on social media attacking Louws’ proposal to build a new jail in Ferndale. She was severe in her criticism of a flier the county mailed at taxpayer expense promoting a jail tax measure that was also on the Nov. 3 ballot.

Gilfilen had one theme to her campaign: anti-jail and for a radical change to public safety based on restorative justice principles.

She said after the results were posted Tuesday night that she planned to call Louws to congratulate him.

If the controversial jail took votes away from Louws, it wasn’t nearly enough to turn the election for the underdog Gilfilen.

“I’m humbled and honored that the voters of Whatcom County are giving me the opportunity to be the executive for another four years,” Louws said.

Louws stuck to low-key talking points during his campaign. He told voters that he upgraded computers and telephones used by county staff, and led a redesign of the county website. He also spoke of helping to broker the deal that kept the county’s emergency ambulance service unified, and helping to establish a new emergency operations center.

Gilfilen was a political newcomer.

In one of the county council races, Todd Donovan had a comfortable lead over Bruce Ayers, 55 percent to 45 percent, for the seat being vacated by Pete Kremen. In the other council race, Satpal Sidhu and Kathy Kershner were in a virtual tie. Just 0.04 percentage point separated the two candidates for the seat Sidhu was appointed to in March.

Reach Ralph Schwartz at 360-715-2289 or ralph.schwartz@bellinghamherald.com. Follow him on Twitter at @BhamPolitics.

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