Politics Blog

New Whatcom council to be sworn in at 12:15 p.m. today

It's not the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, which drew some 1.8 million attendees, but the swearing-in ceremony of four Whatcom County Council candidates today at 12:15 p.m. does have some buzz because it marks a real shift in the council's politics.

Rud Browne, Barry Buchanan, Ken Mann and Carl Weimer are scheduled to take oaths of office today at the Whatcom County Courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.

These four won election in November 2013. Mann and Weimer retained their seats, while Browne and Buchanan defeated two conservatives to create what could become a progressive voting bloc.

I wouldn't expect them to vote in lockstep with each other. But interviews with the four last month revealed that they are mostly on the same page on a number of issues, including the cases brought against the county for violations of the Growth Management Act.

Whatcom Wins, the county Democratic Party organization that successfully coordinated the four campaigns last year, invited people to the oath of office ceremony on Facebook. As of 10:30 a.m. today, the event had attracted 31 "Going" and 11 "Maybes." (Among the 31 is at least one news reporter who is going as an observer.)

Council business kicks off tomorrow (Tue) at 6:15 p.m. with the selection of leadership positions and committee assignments. Weimer appears headed for the chairmanship, although that's not set in stone.

The full council meeting on Tuesday, which begins at 7 p.m., has a light agenda. Two introduction items will be given full consideration on Jan. 28:  Some budget amendments include increases to health insurance costs and back-ordered ammo for the Sheriff's Office. Changes to the comp plan will be introduced that are intended to make the plan conform better with the GMA on the subject of water resources. While this touches on an appeal the county has against an order to tighten its water resources regs, this particular comp plan change is a straightforward matter of adding language that already exists in county code, county officials have said.

The second council meeting of January, again on the 28th, promises to hold more meaningful business. For instance, the council will probably reconsider its stance toward a stormwater project that would benefit a new Bellingham Costco.