The Gristle

A Community of Color

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

A COMMUNITY OF COLOR: Consolidation in city policy and continued fracture at the county level appear to encompass the political dynamics of local elections heading into the fall.

Filing week has concluded, and some seats for Bellingham City Council have been decided with no election at all. The candidates who have stepped forward, however, bring a welcome range of diversity (and passion for the city’s most pressing and continuing issues of of equity and social justice) to City Council.

First, some shuffling of positions as labor organizer Skip Williams moves into the seat vacated by Pinky Vargas, becoming the first African-American to represent Bellingham. Downtown business advocate Hollie Huthman moves without challenge into north Bellingham’s Ward 2 seat long held by the venerable retiring Council member Gene Knutson. Huthman’s vacated seat has drawn a primary challenge. Fitness coach Tonia Boze squares off against racial justice advocates Kristina Michele Martens and Russ Whidbee (the latter two are also African-Americans) for the two-year At-Large position. Eve Smason-Marcus, a talented vocalist and a Whatcom Human Rights Task Force board member, an advocate for the homeless and unsheltered, will challenge Michael Lilliquist for the Southside’s Ward 6.

“I was honored and humbled to be a part of rallies that brought our community together this summer to focus on racial justice,” Martens said in her announcement for office. “In the process, it became apparent that Bellingham needed more visible elected leaders of color who could craft policy based on their own lived experience.”

These candidates will bring a powerful alignment to Bellingham City Council—and expertise, as several have already served on city boards and committees addressing these issues. The emerging Council is as dynamic as the city has ever seen—with enough musicians they could even form their own band.

Similarly, candidates for the Port of Bellingham make us wistful for additional positions on the commission. Incumbents Ken Bell and Michael Shepard have brought a welcome breadth and dynamic energy to the commission, and deserve to continue. They are challenged by business leaders John Huntley and Kelly Krieger, who each want to supercharge the agency’s leading role in economic development. Airline pilot Austin Chapin rounds out the group, bringing an interest and expertise to airport operations. Frankly, the port would be stronger with all of these applicants elected to the commission—five seats rather than three. Perhaps the commission may consider this expansion.

Whatcom County Council also draws an August primary, as three people challenge Council veteran Barry Buchanan for the At-Large position. Kamal Bhachu, Misty Flowers, and Bob Burr represent a spectrum of political viewpoints for one of the Council’s few positions that represent the entire county. Kaylee Galloway, Eddy Ury, and Jeremiah Ramsey have filed for the District 1 seat being vacated by Rud Browne, the county’s most liberal district representing South Bellingham. North Bellingham’s incumbent Todd Donovan is challenged by affordable housing advocate Kelley O’Connor. Rebecca Lewis, Kathy Sabel, and Fred Rinard have stepped up to take on District 3’s Tyler Byrd in a primary challenge. We suspect the demographics of District 3, which includes south Bellingham and community enclaves in the Foothills, could readily support a less arch-conservative representative than Byrd, and that this will be a competitive race. Whatcom Republicans are building a significant war chest—and we expect a great deal of that will be directed to keeping Byrd on Council.

The peculiar dynamics of district-only voting mean future Councils will remain strongly bifurcated and polarized politically—and therefore, incoherent on policy; however, the weight of Bellingham’s population means four of the Council’s seven positions will likely draw county policy toward centrism and in sufficient majority to get things done.

For certain, several of the Council candidates running for election this season intend to make sure the county focuses on issues that are important to Bellingham: affordable housing, justice and equity issues and responsible energy policy. Several have served on county panels related to mental and behavioral health, criminal justice reform, and housing security.

The transformation in county politics over the past decade has moved from compartmentalization—tackling rural issues divorced from her municipalities—to integration and a realization that the county’s resources and capacity (and tax base) can assist with those municipal issues. Housing security and homelessness are examples of the range of public policy matters, and it is notable that several candidates running for county office have interest and background in those efforts. Public safety and criminal justice reform, long thought the problem and purview of cities, has similarly drawn candidates with interest in those topics.

The county’s meetings agenda tells of this shift in a powerful way, with the creation of a racial equity commission added to other committees and task forces on behavioral health, housing security, child and family well-being, and incarceration prevention and reduction—agendas far more rich and diverse than the Ag focus of previous decades. But there’s still Ag.

All establish a role County Council is meant to play in this assembly of community resources, encumbered only by the polarity imposed by district-only voting. That has not prevented talented and motivated people from stepping up for office, though, and we welcome them.

Past Columns
Pandemic Pandemonium

November 24, 2021

Preexisting Conditions

November 10, 2021

Consensus from the Census

September 29, 2021

An Expanding Agenda

September 15, 2021

Primary to the Left

August 18, 2021

‘Free Dirt’

July 21, 2021

Roll On Columbia

July 7, 2021

Court in Court

June 23, 2021

Crisis In Court

June 9, 2021

Grand Slam

May 12, 2021

Carbon Pricing Reality

April 28, 2021

Third Time’s A Charm

April 14, 2021

Salmon Need Water

March 31, 2021

Mid-Point

March 17, 2021

Carbon Pricing

March 3, 2021

‘Stop The Steal’

February 17, 2021

Camp 210

February 3, 2021

A capricious flower

January 20, 2021

Saturday
Paintings of My Life, In Dialogue

11:00am

View Beth Anna Margolis’ “Paintings of My Life” from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Feb. 23 (closed on Thanksgiving) at Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd. The show features a…

Holiday Bazaar

8:00am

Peruse glassworks, woodworks, metalworks, jewelry, paintings, knit-wear and more at a Holiday Bazaar featuring one-of-a-kind gifts from Whatcom County artists from 8am-5pm daily through…

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Allied Arts’ annual Holiday Festival of the Arts takes place from 10am-7pm daily through Dec. 24 (except on Thanksgiving) at 1411 Railroad Ave. The five-week-long festival will feature works…

Salmon Sighting with NSEA

10:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the final Salmon Sighting events of the season taking place from 10am-1pm Friday, and 12pm-3pm Saturday at Bellingham’s Arroyo Park. Join…

Future Artifacts

10:00am

“Future Artifacts” shows from 10am-5pm daily through Nov. 27 in La Conner at the Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. The exhibit features work by Lummi Nation glass artist Dan Friday,…

Whidbey Art Market

10:00am

After a year’s hiatus, Whidbey Art Market returns from 10am-4pm Friday and Saturday in Freeland at Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Dr. There will be something for everyone—oil, acrylic,…

Amy Popelka at Good Earth

11:00am

Works by featured artist Amy Popelka can be seen for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 11am-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000 Harris Ave.

Small Arts Works Juried Show

11:00am

Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s “Small Art Works” regional juried art show can be viewed from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Saturdays through Jan. 13 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St.…

Studio Conversations

11:00am

Anita Lehmann’s “Studio Conversations: Short Stories” can be viewed from 11am-6pm daily (except Tuesdays) through November in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Masks…

Quilt Exhibits in La Conner

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Dia de los Muertos: A Day of Remembrance,”…

Lorna Libert at Scott Milo

11:00am

New Pacific Northwest oils by Bellingham-based artist Lorna Libert will be featured from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 27 at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave.…

Dendritic Signals

11:00am

View “Dendritic Signals” for the final week from 11am-4pm Wednesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The show features abstract artwork in a variety of mediums and colors,…

Morris and Obbink

11:00am

View works by sculptor Ann Morris and landscape-inspired watercolors and colored pencil works by Kim Obbink for the final weekend from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith &…

Mindport Exhibits

11:00am

One-hour reservation slots are now open for household groups or pods of up to 10 people from 11am-6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St. In the months they were…

Among the Trees

11:00am

Check out the invitational exhibit “Among the Trees” for the final week from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The show features works by numerous…

Up Close and Personal at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art,” “Artists x Artists,” “The Fairhaven Hotel,” “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the…

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm

The annual “Deck the Old City Hall” returns starting this weekend from 12pm-5pm Friday through Sunday at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. View a variety of themed, decorated…

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm

Attend “A Drive-Thru Christmas” from 5pm-10pm Friday through Sunday in Stanwood at Warm Beach Park, 20800 Marine Dr. The illuminating experience features more than a million lights, festive…

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

7:30pm

Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph will make appearances when Music Theatre International’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed…

Genre Legends

7:30pm

At 7:30pm and 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday, “Genre Legends” will take the stage at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. Watch the players pick multiple genres for each show and…

A Christmas Carol

8:00pm

One of the Skagit Valley’s favorite holiday traditions continues when A Christmas Carol opens this weekend with showings at 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 2:30pm Sunday in Mount Vernon at the…

Shakedown Shows

9:00pm

Fretts, JP Falcon Grady, and an “It’s Kizmet” drag show start at 9pm Fri., Nov. 26 at the Shakedown, 1212 N. State St. The COVID Relief Benefit Show for Make.Shift Art Space will be followed…

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am

Attend a Pancake Breakfast from 8am-10am at Ferndale’s American Legion Post #154, 5537 2nd Ave. Entry is $3 for kids 12 and under, $6 for adults.

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for a Work Party from 9am-12pm at Squalicum Creek. Volunteers will be planting and mulching native trees and shrubs to increase stream health…

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am

The Bellingham Farmers Market continues its 29th season from 10am-2pm Saturdays through December 18 at Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Attendees can expect about 60-70 vendors per…

Open Day for Honey, I Shrunk the Art

11:00am

Attend opening day for “Honey, I Shrunk the Art” from 11am-7pm on Camano Island at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way. The annual multi-artist small works show can…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters host a Share Spot from 12pm-1:30pm every Saturday offering free food to take or share in the employee parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest…

Holiday Market at Twin Sisters

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Holiday Market at BBB

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

Twin Sisters Holiday Market

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Boundary Bay Brewery Holiday Market

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

An Elvis Family Christmas

1:00pm

Kick off the holidays and award-winning impersonator Danny Vernon for “An Elvis Family Christmas” at 1pm and 6pm in Anacortes at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge’s Walton Event Center, 12885…

Semiahmoo Sips

2:00pm

From 2pm-4pm every Saturday, attend “Semiahmoo Sips” in Blaine at the wine cellar at Semiahmoo Resort, 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy. A sommelier will pour samples of four different wines from a…

Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour

4:00pm

Learn more about the inner workings of a true grain-to-glass distillery when local historians the Good Time Girls lead 21-and-older tasting tours at 4pm Saturdays at Chuckanut Bay Distillery,…

Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses

4:00pm

As part of Small Business Saturday, attend a Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses from 4pm-9pm at the Granary, 1211 Granary Ave. All vendors will donate 10 percent of…

Steve Webb and the Great Mad Swirl

7:00pm

Steve Webb and his band the Great Mad Swirl will make music from 7pm-9pm at the Firehouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave. The local trio are known for blending a powerfully rich…

Wild Buffalo Live Music Lineup

7:00pm

The Walrus performs at 7pm and Spaceband takes the stage at 9:30pm Sat., Nov. 27 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming events include John Craigie with special…

Sunday
Paintings of My Life, In Dialogue

11:00am

View Beth Anna Margolis’ “Paintings of My Life” from 11am-4pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Feb. 23 (closed on Thanksgiving) at Gallery Syre, 465 W. Stuart Rd. The show features a…

Holiday Bazaar

8:00am

Peruse glassworks, woodworks, metalworks, jewelry, paintings, knit-wear and more at a Holiday Bazaar featuring one-of-a-kind gifts from Whatcom County artists from 8am-5pm daily through…

Holiday Festival of the Arts

10:00am

Allied Arts’ annual Holiday Festival of the Arts takes place from 10am-7pm daily through Dec. 24 (except on Thanksgiving) at 1411 Railroad Ave. The five-week-long festival will feature works…

Salmon Sighting with NSEA

10:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for the final Salmon Sighting events of the season taking place from 10am-1pm Friday, and 12pm-3pm Saturday at Bellingham’s Arroyo Park. Join…

Future Artifacts

10:00am

“Future Artifacts” shows from 10am-5pm daily through Nov. 27 in La Conner at the Museum of Northwest Art, 121 S. First St. The exhibit features work by Lummi Nation glass artist Dan Friday,…

Whidbey Art Market

10:00am

After a year’s hiatus, Whidbey Art Market returns from 10am-4pm Friday and Saturday in Freeland at Freeland Hall, 1515 Shoreview Dr. There will be something for everyone—oil, acrylic,…

Amy Popelka at Good Earth

11:00am

Works by featured artist Amy Popelka can be seen for the final week from 11am-5pm daily through Saturday, and 11am-4pm Sunday at Good Earth Pottery, 1000 Harris Ave.

Small Arts Works Juried Show

11:00am

Stanwood-Camano Arts Guild’s “Small Art Works” regional juried art show can be viewed from 11am-5pm Wednesdays through Saturdays through Jan. 13 at A Guilded Gallery, 8700 271st St.…

Studio Conversations

11:00am

Anita Lehmann’s “Studio Conversations: Short Stories” can be viewed from 11am-6pm daily (except Tuesdays) through November in Mount Vernon at Perry and Carlson Gallery, 504 S. First St. Masks…

Quilt Exhibits in La Conner

11:00am

From 11am-5pm Wednesday through Sunday, visit La Conner’s Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum, 703 S. Second St. Currently on display are “Dia de los Muertos: A Day of Remembrance,”…

Lorna Libert at Scott Milo

11:00am

New Pacific Northwest oils by Bellingham-based artist Lorna Libert will be featured from 11am-5pm Tuesdays through Saturdays through Nov. 27 at the Scott Milo Gallery, 420 Commercial Ave.…

Dendritic Signals

11:00am

View “Dendritic Signals” for the final week from 11am-4pm Wednesday through Saturday at Allied Arts, 1418 Cornwall Ave. The show features abstract artwork in a variety of mediums and colors,…

Morris and Obbink

11:00am

View works by sculptor Ann Morris and landscape-inspired watercolors and colored pencil works by Kim Obbink for the final weekend from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at Smith &…

Mindport Exhibits

11:00am

One-hour reservation slots are now open for household groups or pods of up to 10 people from 11am-6pm Tuesdays through Saturdays at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly St. In the months they were…

Among the Trees

11:00am

Check out the invitational exhibit “Among the Trees” for the final week from 11am-5pm Friday through Sunday in Edison at i.e. gallery, 5800 Cains Court. The show features works by numerous…

Up Close and Personal at Whatcom Museum

12:00pm

View “Up Close & Personal: The Body in Contemporary Art,” “Artists x Artists,” “The Fairhaven Hotel,” “People of the Sea and Cedar: A Journey Through the Tribal Cultures and History of the…

Deck the Old City Hall

12:00pm

The annual “Deck the Old City Hall” returns starting this weekend from 12pm-5pm Friday through Sunday at Whatcom Museum’s Old City Hall, 121 Prospect St. View a variety of themed, decorated…

The Lights of Christmas

5:00pm

Attend “A Drive-Thru Christmas” from 5pm-10pm Friday through Sunday in Stanwood at Warm Beach Park, 20800 Marine Dr. The illuminating experience features more than a million lights, festive…

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

7:30pm

Mrs. Claus, Hermey the Elf, Bumble the Abominable Snow Monster, Clarice, Yukon Cornelius and, of course, Rudolph will make appearances when Music Theatre International’s Rudolph the Red-Nosed…

Genre Legends

7:30pm

At 7:30pm and 9:30pm on Friday and Saturday, “Genre Legends” will take the stage at the Sylvia Center for the Arts, 207 Prospect St. Watch the players pick multiple genres for each show and…

A Christmas Carol

8:00pm

One of the Skagit Valley’s favorite holiday traditions continues when A Christmas Carol opens this weekend with showings at 8pm Friday and Saturday, and 2:30pm Sunday in Mount Vernon at the…

Shakedown Shows

9:00pm

Fretts, JP Falcon Grady, and an “It’s Kizmet” drag show start at 9pm Fri., Nov. 26 at the Shakedown, 1212 N. State St. The COVID Relief Benefit Show for Make.Shift Art Space will be followed…

Pancake Breakfast

8:00am

Attend a Pancake Breakfast from 8am-10am at Ferndale’s American Legion Post #154, 5537 2nd Ave. Entry is $3 for kids 12 and under, $6 for adults.

NSEA Work Party

9:00am

Join the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association for a Work Party from 9am-12pm at Squalicum Creek. Volunteers will be planting and mulching native trees and shrubs to increase stream health…

Bellingham Farmers Market

10:00am

The Bellingham Farmers Market continues its 29th season from 10am-2pm Saturdays through December 18 at Depot Market Square, 1100 Railroad Ave. Attendees can expect about 60-70 vendors per…

Open Day for Honey, I Shrunk the Art

11:00am

Attend opening day for “Honey, I Shrunk the Art” from 11am-7pm on Camano Island at Matzke Fine Art Gallery and Sculpture Park, 2345 Blanche Way. The annual multi-artist small works show can…

Share Spot

12:00pm

Birchwood Food Desert Fighters host a Share Spot from 12pm-1:30pm every Saturday offering free food to take or share in the employee parking lot of the Industrial Credit Union, 3233 Northwest…

Holiday Market at Twin Sisters

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Holiday Market at BBB

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

Twin Sisters Holiday Market

12:00pm

Local arts and crafts vendors will be selling their wares at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-5pm Saturday and Sunday at Twin Sisters Brewing Company, 500 Carolina St. Visits by Santa…

Boundary Bay Brewery Holiday Market

12:00pm

For Small Business Saturday (and beyond), shop local at a Holiday Market taking place from 12pm-4pm Saturday and Sunday at the Beer Garden at Boundary Bay Brewery, 1107 Railroad. From…

An Elvis Family Christmas

1:00pm

Kick off the holidays and award-winning impersonator Danny Vernon for “An Elvis Family Christmas” at 1pm and 6pm in Anacortes at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge’s Walton Event Center, 12885…

Semiahmoo Sips

2:00pm

From 2pm-4pm every Saturday, attend “Semiahmoo Sips” in Blaine at the wine cellar at Semiahmoo Resort, 9565 Semiahmoo Pkwy. A sommelier will pour samples of four different wines from a…

Chuckanut Bay Distillery Tour

4:00pm

Learn more about the inner workings of a true grain-to-glass distillery when local historians the Good Time Girls lead 21-and-older tasting tours at 4pm Saturdays at Chuckanut Bay Distillery,…

Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses

4:00pm

As part of Small Business Saturday, attend a Sustainability Showcase featuring Women + Queer Businesses from 4pm-9pm at the Granary, 1211 Granary Ave. All vendors will donate 10 percent of…

Steve Webb and the Great Mad Swirl

7:00pm

Steve Webb and his band the Great Mad Swirl will make music from 7pm-9pm at the Firehouse Arts and Events Center, 1314 Harris Ave. The local trio are known for blending a powerfully rich…

Wild Buffalo Live Music Lineup

7:00pm

The Walrus performs at 7pm and Spaceband takes the stage at 9:30pm Sat., Nov. 27 at the Wild Buffalo House of Music, 208 W. Holly St. Other upcoming events include John Craigie with special…