Alan Rhodes

Mr. Cranky’s Election Reflections

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The 2017 local election is behind us and the results are a mixed bag, but we are definitely doing better than the other Washington where a mentally unstable 5-year old is running things. Let’s see how things worked out here in Whatcom County.

Bellingham City Council. There were only two contested races for city council. The sixth ward wasn’t much of a contest, however, since incumbent Michael Lilliquist’s opponent didn’t campaign. Actually, there wasn’t much of a contest in the at-large race either, where incumbent Roxanne Murphy was easily reelected with 80 percent of the vote. Her opponent, Eric Bostrom, a temperamental street preacher known for his gay and Muslim bashing, can now return to his familiar sidewalk venue. While Eric’s campaign was merely a passing sideshow, it is, nevertheless, disturbing that 4,731 Bellingham residents actually voted for him.

Whatcom County Council. Council districts were redrawn for this election, so the incumbents weren’t running for the districts they were currently serving. In the at-large race, political novice Mary Kay Robinson carefully avoided taking specific stands on issues, preferring to run instead on a bouncy personality, bright smile and glitzy campaign materials financed in part by $100,000 from a realtors PAC. None of this was successful in unseating Barry Buchanan, a knowledgeable and focused councilman. It’s reassuring these days to occasionally see substance triumph over style.

Speaking of avoiding the issues, this brings us to Tyler Byrd, who won the third district. Byrd refused to weigh in on controversial issues, insisting that this would just create more polarization and all he wanted to do was bring everyone together in a big, happy Whatcom County family that would get beyond political labels and work together harmoniously, blah, blah, blah. After listening to Byrd dodge issues and evade questions at a City Club forum, one observer commented, “He seems like a young Doug Ericksen.” While I would never say anything that horrible about anybody, I would still recommend keeping an eye on this guy when he gets into office.

In the second district another political newcomer, Amy Glasser, gave it her all but still lost by a large margin to incumbent Todd Donovan. Note to Amy: You ran a high-energy, enthusiastic campaign but next time do more homework on the fine points of the issues. Note to Todd: You do a great job on the council, but stay out of the Facebook wars. They do not bring out your best side.

A first district victory was a cakewalk for incumbent Rud Browne. One does, however, have to admire his opponent Phil Morgan, a Tea-Party-style conservative, for hazarding a run in a hyper-liberal district. While I’m certainly not attracted to Phil’s politics, I loved his crusty-yet-courteous shtick, and the devil-may-care temerity of a guy who will run in South Bellingham with the Trump-tinged campaign slogan “Make Whatcom County Great Again.”

Port of Bellingham. Dan Robbins lost his spot on the port commission to Michael Shepard. Robbins has been a reasonably competent port commissioner, but you’re unlikely to ever see his name coupled with the word “visionary.” Shepard is more attuned to the big picture and to environmental issues. He’s a good choice.

Ken Bell won the other port seat, edging out Barry Wenger in one of the tighter races. Bell is a capable and intelligent fellow, albeit a bit too smooth for comfort at times. He sometimes appears to view the waterfront more as a commodity than a community resource. If he does indeed have propensities in this direction, they will likely be offset by the other two port commissioners, Michael Shepard and Bobby Briscoe.

The Jail Tax. Once again folks voted down a jail tax proposal, with almost 60 percent of the voters nixing it. Proposition 2017-6 was a lightly tweaked version of the same plan that was rejected in 2015. The proposed jail was too big, was cost- ineffective, and the funding mechanism was a gateway to fiscal disaster. All that said, the existing jail is still a crumbling, medieval disgrace and the problem needs to be fixed. Note to those who will draft a new proposal: Start with a clean sheet of paper this time.

A final observation. There are 138,688 registered voters in Whatcom County and more than 75,000 of you didn’t vote. This is our county, folks, and local issues matter. You don’t have to go any farther than your mailbox to cast your ballot. If you opt out because you can’t be bothered, then please keep all future political complaints to yourself.

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December 13, 2017

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October 25, 2017

Events
Today
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Little Women, the Musical

7:00pm|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Anne of Green Gables

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Wild Things

9:30am|Connelly Creek Nature Area

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

COffee Tasting

3:00pm|Camber Cafe

Hidden Narrative Tour

3:30pm|Museum of Northwest Art

Drayton Harbor Shell-ebration

4:00pm|H Street Plaza

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Jingle Belles

4:00pm|La Conner

Ukulele Concert

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Family Story Night

6:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Holiday Movie Night

6:00pm|Bellingham High School

Holiday Night Market

6:00pm|Commercial Street

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Holiday Ball

7:00pm|Majestic

Vaudevillingham

7:00pm|Cirque Lab

Community Orchestra Winter Concert

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Ghosts and Brawling

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Setzer
Tomorrow
Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Little Women, the Musical

7:00pm|Sudden Valley Dance Barn

Anne of Green Gables

7:30pm|Anacortes Community Theatre

Hot Cider & Cool Art

10:00am|Morgan Block Studios

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Ghosts and Brawling

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

VFW Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Hall

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am|Ferndale Senior Center

Make It and Take It

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Breakfast with Santa

9:00am|Bellingham Childcare & Learning Center

Coast Salish Winter Festival

10:00am|Lummi Gateway Center

Jingle Bell Dash

10:00am|Seafarers Memorial Park

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am|Depot Market Square

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

Holiday Tea

10:00am|South Whatcom Library

Chainsaw Sculpting Open Studio

10:00am|Tomas Vrba Studio

Baker Beacon Rally

11:00am|Heather Meadow

Fairhaven Winterfest

12:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Peter James Holiday Gallery Sale and Reception

1:00pm|BelleWood Acres

Hansel and Gretel

1:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Youth Symphony Holiday Concert

1:00pm|McIntyre Hall

Eat Your Words Cookbook Club

2:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Holiday Wines from Spain

2:00pm|Seifert & Jones Wine Merchants

Mozzarella Class

3:00pm|Appel Farms

Winter Dance Celebration

3:00pm|Brodniak Hall

Noel Trio

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Not So Silent Night

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham

Winter Star Mountain Journey

7:00pm|Blaine Performing Arts Center

Kulshan Chorus Winter Concert

7:30pm|Bellingham High School

Skagit Symphony Holiday Concert

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Wizard People, Dear Bellingham

8:00pm|Alternative Library

Teen Library Lock-In

8:00pm|Ferndale Library

Christmas Milonga Tango Experience

9:00pm|Presence Studio

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Sunday
Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am|4145 Meridian St.

Santa's in Town

10:00am|Yeager's Toyland

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm|Warm Beach Camp

Pacific Arts Market

10:00am|Sunset Square

The Snow Queen

7:00pm|BAAY Theatre

Skagit Valley Chorale's Heralding Christmas

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Sleighbells Ring

10:00am|Bellewood Acres

The Nativity

6:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Community Breakfast

8:00am|American Legion Post #43

Rabbit Ride

8:30am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Winter's Return Concert

2:00pm|Skagit Valley Unitarian Fellowship

Nonfiction and Memoir Writing Group

3:00pm|Village Books

Nutcracker Holiday

3:00pm|Jansen Art Center

Holiday Chorus

3:00pm|St. James Presbyterian Church

Whatcom Chorale's Messiah

3:30pm|Church of the Assumption

Backgammon Session

5:30pm|Parkway Village

Way North Comedy Showcase

7:00pm|Farmstrong Brewing Co.

see our complete calendar »

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