Ballots have been mailed for the Nov. 6 general election. Voters have 17 days to select their choices for U.S. president, Washington State governor and a host of other offices and initiatives.
We hope you took the time to attend or watch a rebroadcast of the election forums sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Bellingham/Whatcom County and the City of Bellingham to learn more about local candidates. You can learn more about each candidate's stances on the issues from our Voter's Guide online at BellinghamHerald.com.
We've chosen to make recommendations in local races where we had the opportunity to learn more about the candidates and issues.
We looked for candidates who we believe will listen and learn from their constituents.
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We support candidates who will work with Democrats, Republicans and others to effect change and lead our state and nation to stronger economies while protecting natural resources.
Nobody likes taxes, but we believe governments are set up to allow us all as neighbors to care for those in need and provide infrastructure such as roads and schools for the common good.
We want representatives who understand they work for us and must do the people's business in public.
And we want representatives who protect individual freedoms and choice.
That's no small order.
Here are the candidates we believe are best able to carry out that vision.
U.S. Representative, Congressional District 1
We support Democrat Suzan DelBene. Republican John Koster did not attend the forum, but, as we had met him previously, we met privately with DelBene. We find Koster's resolute devotion to conservative causes to be a detriment to the compromise necessary for progress in Congress. DelBene has extensive private-sector business experience and has also led the state Department of Revenue. Her experience will be invaluable in the discussion about how government can help the economy.
U.S. Representative, Congressional District 2
We urge you to return Rep. Rick Larsen to Congress. He has been an effective representative of the district and understands the complexity of government. The Democrat has a strong record of support for jobs, working to ensure power for Alcoa and supporting Gateway Pacific Terminal. Challenger Dan Matthews, a Republican, wants smaller government, but is short on details.
Washington State Senator, District 40
We continue to support Rep. Kevin Ranker for his commitment to education and infrastructure. But we were impressed with "prefers independent-GOP party" challenger John Swapp's understanding of issues and belief that as an independent he would work with Democrats and Republicans alike.
Washington State Representative, District 40, Position 1
Democratic incumbent Kristine Lytton's opponent Brandon Robinson has dropped out of the race, but his name remains on the ballot.
Washington State Representative, District 40, Position 2
Rep. Jeff Morris, a Democrat, remains a leader on technological and energy issues in the state and continues to have our support. Green Party candidate Howard Pellett, who has run against Morris in the past, remains unaware of many of the issues the state faces and is short on ideas about how to solve them.
Washington State Representative, District 42, Position 1
We urge you to vote for Natalie McClendon, the Democrat challenger to Rep. Jason Overstreet. We find Overstreet's pamphlet-waving zeal for the Constitution to be an over-the-top deterrent to a functioning government. We believe McClendon's experience as a teacher and small-business owner, and her willingness to listen, will be helpful in meeting the state's challenges with the economy and education.
Washington State Representative, District 42, Position 2
Rep. Vincent Buys was not our choice when he ran against now-Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville in 2010. But he gains our support in this election for his willingness to work with Democrats in the Whatcom delegation for the good of the community. We find more evidence of this in Buy's endorsements from the mayors of all Whatcom's small cities. We urge him to build upon this bipartisanship to break logjams in Olympia.
We hope we have not seen the last of Democrat challenger Matthew Krogh, who impressed us with his depth of knowledge of issues and his dedication to "equality of opportunity." We believe he would be an effective leader and legislator.
Public Utility District 1, Commissioner District 2
We back incumbent Paul D. Kenner for this six-year, nonpartisan post. The district has countywide authority to supply electric and water services to Cherry Point and Grandview Road. It also is involved in local environmental, fisheries and utility issues. Kenner has served 32 years in this post and challenger Brad L. Stone brought new ideas to the debate. However, Kenner's experience will best serve the community as decades-long infrastructure projects finally come to fruition and complex water rights issues are resolved.
Whatcom County Superior Court Judge Position 2
We support Deborra Garrett for the nonpartisan position left open by Judge Steven Mura's retirement.
Superior Court judges hear criminal and civil cases and we believe both Garrett and District Court Judge Dave Grant are experienced in all aspects of the law. Both are talented lawyers who would base their decisions on case law. Both would be constrained in criminal sentencing by state law.
Our decision comes down to demeanor and how they would run the court.
Grant's professional career has been as a judge, criminal and civil prosecutor and police officer. We believe Garrett's experience before the court representing community members, businesses and nonprofit agencies brings a needed diversity to the post.
Port of Bellingham, Proposition No. 1, number of port commissioners
We urge a no vote on the this proposition to increase the number of port commissioners from three to five.
We believe the port agency exists to promote industry and jobs. Costs for additional commissioners and the very real possibility that the work of an expanded board could be done behind closed doors are not worth the potential that more commissioners would create a stability to attract top staff to the agency.
City of Bellingham, Proposition No. 1, low-income housing levy
We support the proposition that would fund housing and housing services through a property tax levy. Your yes vote will aid people with low or very low incomes, including those with disabilities, veterans, seniors and families with children. And it will bring jobs and commerce to Bellingham, probably downtown, where other social services are available.
The levy would add $90 a year to the tax bill on a $250,000 home for seven years. We believe the true cost of homelessness in emergency room visits, jail and disruption to children's education is greater. The levy funds would also make it easier to attract matching funds from other sources.
Lynden Transportation Benefit District, Proposition No. 1, sales and use tax for transportation improvements
We suggest a yes vote to increase sales tax from 8.5 percent to 8.7 percent in Lynden. The tax would add 20 cents on a $100 purchase. Residents and visitors alike would pay the rate, which would be the same as in Bellingham and Ferndale.
The $300,000 a year it would raise will pay for much-needed road repairs and projects to accommodate growth.