Politics Blog

Filing week: Incumbents make strong showing in Day 1

Day 1 of candidate filing week in Whatcom County held few if any surprises. Incumbents mostly put in their names with the county auditor to appear on this year’s ballot.

Three people have already filed for the mayor’s race in Ferndale, including two City Council members. Current Mayor Gary Jensen is running instead for Port of Bellingham commissioner.

Races for county and city offices, Port of Bellingham, school boards, park and recreation districts, fire districts, hospital districts, water districts and cemetery districts will appear on the ballot in 2015.

A partial list (cemetery districts and all water districts except Birch Bay and Lake Whatcom were omitted) of the 55 candidates who filed on Monday, May 11 is below. Incumbents are marked with an “(I).”

Whatcom County

Executive: Jack Louws (I)

Council: Todd Donovan, District 1B; Satpal Sidhu (I), District 2B; Barbara Brenner (I), District 3B

Assessor: Keith Willnauer (I)

Sheriff: Bill Elfo (I)

Treasurer: Steven Oliver (I)

Whatcom Superior Court: Raquel Montoya-Lewis (I), Position 4


Council: April Barker, Ward 1; Dan Hammill (I), Ward 3; Terry Bornemann (I), Ward 5; Roxanne Murphy (I), at-large


Council: Dennis Olason (I), Ward 2 Position 3


Mayor: Jon Mutchler, Cathy Watson, J. Manuel Reta

Council: Greg Hansen, Position 2; Keith M. Olson (I), Position 3; Matthew Durkee and Paul S. Ingram (I), Position 4


Council: Ronald DeValois, Position 2; Brent Lenssen, Position 4


Council: Gary de Bont, Position 5

Port of Bellingham

Commissioner: Gary S. Jensen, District 3

Bellingham School Board

Camille Diaz Hackler (I), Position 1; Anthony (Tony) Wallace, Position 2; Kelly M. Bashaw (I), Position 3; Douglas W. Benjamin (I), Position 5

Ferndale School Board

Kevin Erickson (I), District 1

Lynden School Board

Dominic Shiu (I), Position 1; Brian L. Johnson (I), Position 2; Kevin Burke (I), Position 3

Meridian School Board

John Bosche (I), District 5

Nooksack Valley School Board

Chris Haugen (I), District 4

Mount Baker School Board

Russ Pfeiffer-Hoyt (I), District 5

Fire District 4

Harry W. Andrews (I), Position 1

Fire District 11

Ed Scott (I), Position 1

Fire District 17

Anthony Cannizzaro (I), Position 1

Fire District 21

Dean Whitney (I) and John Crawford, Position 1

Birch Bay Water and Sewer District

Carl Reichhardt (I), Position 1

Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District

Laura Lee Weide (I), District 1

Point Roberts Park and Recreation District

Stephen T. Falk (I), Position 2

Blaine-Birch Bay Park and Recreation District

Douglas Robertson (I), Position 5

Lynden Park and Recreation District

Robert (Bob) Bandarra (I), Position 3; Barbara Daley, Position 5

Hospital District 304 (United General)

Andrew C. Hunter (I), Position 1

Point Roberts Public Hospital District

Kandace (Kandy) Harper, Position 3

A flurry of press releases announcing the candidacies of incumbents appeared in our email inboxes on Monday morning, May 11. Here are the four releases, reproduced in full and without editing:

Louws, county exec:

County Executive Jack Louws Launches Re-Election Campaign

With the opening of filing week this morning, County Executive Jack Louws officially launched his campaign for re-election to the office he first sought nearly four years ago.

“I’m energized to begin my campaign to ask voters to return me to work for them for four more years,” Louws says. “The job has been both challenging and rewarding. While much has been achieved, I believe I’ve just gotten started with all I want to accomplish for our community.”

During his first term in office, Louws accomplished a number of significant projects, including building bridges with the City of Bellingham and Port of Bellingham, creating the Whatcom Unified Emergency Coordination Center, creating the South Fork Park in Acme, leading the effort to create Whatcom County’s first Mental Health Court, working with the Birch Bay community on shoreline restoration and new recreational opportunities, and supporting efforts on water quality and availability with farmers, public utilities and other users.

“In addition,” Louws says, “thanks to the hard work of many talented and dedicated County employees, we also made significant strides in bringing County technology into the 21st century to improve service to citizens and increase productivity for staff. We upgraded 1,200 outdated computers, implemented records management software, launched a new website, and are installing a new phone system.”

In 2014, the Dispute Resolution Center recognized Louws and Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville with the Public Servant Peace Builders Award for “their willingness and commitment to model collaborative leadership and proactively work together for the betterment of Bellingham and Whatcom County.”

“While each elected leader throughout the county answers to a specific group of constituents who sometimes have varying priorities and positions, I think most would agree that the respectful working relationship and cooperation among the City, Port, County, small cities and Tribes has never been more productive for the benefit of our whole community,“ Louws says.

Over the next four years, Louws intends to focus on a number of badly needed capital projects, including replacement of the deteriorating jail, renovation of an existing county building to house a more efficient permit center, rebuilding the failing exterior of the County Courthouse, and upgrading the Public Health building to improve energy efficiency. He also plans to work cooperatively with the City of Bellingham and Lake Whatcom Water and Sewer District on implementation of the Lake Whatcom Management Plan as well as with Bellingham and the small cities on the 2016 Comprehensive Plan Update.

“I want to thank the people of Whatcom County for placing their trust in me for the past four years,” Louws says. “I hope to earn your vote again so I can return to office to finish the important work that remains to be done.”

Bornemann, Bellingham council:

Bornemann files for re-election

Bellingham City Council member Terry Bornemann is moving forward with his campaign for re-election and filed with the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office this morning, May 11. Bornemann’s campaign has also scheduled a campaign kickoff for Friday, May 15.

Bornemann currently represents Bellingham’s 5th Ward and serves as Chair of the Public Works/Public Safety Committee. He also is a member of the Planning Committee, and Parks and Recreation Committee, the Council on the Emergency Medical Services Oversight Board, WHAT-COMM Communication Board-911, Sustainable Connections Board and the Sister Cities Board.

Bornemann said he is running for re-election to provide stability, leadership, and historical knowledge of city government to the Council as the city continues to navigate its way into better economic times. He also said he will continue to be a voice for underserved communities.

Bornemann, who holds a Master of Science in Rehabilitation and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, is recently retired as a family therapist with Whatcom Juvenile Court Administration. He lives with his wife Jennifer, of 37 years, in the Sehome Neighborhood.

Sidhu, Whatcom council:

Satpal Sidhu to run for the Whatcom County Council position for District 2

Satpal Sidhu, current member of Whatcom County Council is running for position for 2nd district. He was recently nominated to this position vacated by Sam Crawford.

Mr. Sidhu said, “I am running to build upon the commitment to the community I demonstrated in my 2014 campaign (for a 42nd Legislative District House seat). The enthusiasm of my supporters and volunteers is awesome. I look forward to careful listening and healthy debate on countywide issues”.

Mr. Sidhu states, “My values are the American ideals of hard work, strong ethics and community service. I believe in civil dialogue, vigorous discussion and making tough decisions.”

He has proven record of working collaboratively with diverse groups. He believes that compromise is not a bad word and being an engineer, he relies on facts and data to base his decisions.

He abhors political labels. “In the realm of real life, we all are progressive, conservative and liberal at different times, different issues and different decisions on hand. It is unreal to confine the intellect and truth into some preconceived cubby holes and reflect false allegiance to labels over the public good,” he stated.

Mr. Satpal Sidhu is an active citizen serving on the boards of NW Agricultural Business Center, Whatcom Community College Foundation and PeaceHealth Citizen Advisory Council. In the past he has served on Lynden School District Levy Committee, Bellingham Police Diversity Committee; NW Clean Air Agency; Whatcom Counseling and Psychiatric Clinic; and Meridian School Foundation. He holds a degree in Math & Physics, Electrical Engineering and an MBA.

Willnauer, county assessor:

Press Release

Keith Willnauer announced today that he will be seeking reelection to the position of Whatcom County Assessor. Keith Willnauer was first elected to the office of Whatcom County Assessor in 1989 after having served 10 years in the Assessor’s Office including 5 years as an accredited Real Property Appraiser, and is now completing his seventh term in office. He is the longest serving elected assessor in the state of Washington. Willnauer has maintained a State of Washington Appraiser Accreditation. He has served as President of the Washington State Association of County Assessors and is the current Chair of the Assessment Standards Sub-committee. Willnauer has served over the past five years as an Executive Officer on the Washington State Association of County Officials and is currently Immediate Past President. Willnauer is a recognized Distinguished Alumni of Western Washington University, a University of Washington Graduate School Certified Public Official, and lives in Bellingham with his wife Cindy and son Jack.

Willnauer has this to add to his announced candidacy:

As much as I’m proud of my past service, I am energized and committed to the future. Our local communities are faced with critically important needs and demands. The administration of property tax is technical and non-political. It will play an integral supporting role in achieving success for the continued improvement in our quality of life. The protection of our environment, the protection of our personal safety, and the education of our youth, will rely on property tax to fund these service deliveries. I have the technical background, the experience and the commitment to customer service necessary to provide these requirements.

In this last term, the Assessor’s Office has transitioned to a new computer system and most importantly to an entirely enhanced annual all-property valuation program. We have equalized assessment levels for all properties, countywide, and eliminated the undesired effects and uncertainty of dynamic assessed value movements from market value swings. Valuation appeals continue to decline. Our data quality and valuation equity are improved. We expanded our web portal access application for Property , Sales, and Valuation information by replacing our entire system. We are continuing to focus on customer service quality with automation developments and new information access. All of these advancements were accomplished while reducing the staff by 2 positions. I commit to direct an administration with a taxpayers perspective of practicality and cost.

Property Tax will always be looked to for continued stability., however I am dedicated toward the opportunity promise of the future. The county enterprise requires a new unified land record system. The Assessor’s Office has committed to a seven department partnership project and will provide the foundational development of a new computer mapping Geographical Information System (GIS). My experience working with other officials and under tight budget restraint will serve this major project well.

I look forward to service to the citizens of Whatcom County. I respectfully seek your support for my reelection to the position of your Whatcom County Assessor.