Friday, June 10, 2011

Its all over, except the shouting, campaigning and voting.

"A people who mean to be their own governors must arm themselves with the power that knowledge gives." - James Madison
Promptly at 4:30 PM, the County Auditor closed the Declarations of Candidacy for our local elections, and there were a few surprises.
Now, there will certainly be all kinds of speculation about possible outcomes, despite the fact that no one really knows with absolute certainty.
But, there are degrees of certainty, some higher than others.

For example, those candidates with no opposition will likely win.
Another one is incumbents with name recognition, strong backers and money behind them are often strong favorites who enjoy distinct advantages at voting time -unless of course they have done something so egregiously bad that an unavoidable political 'BO' can be smelled.

It is a shame that the above is true, in several cases. The power of incumbency is strong, but not as strong as sheer apathy - on the part of many citizens and voters, who seem to always prefer that somebody else serves in public office.
Isn't that attitude convenient?
Whenever things don't go according to their expectations, they get to just bitch about it and be cheaply entertained as well.

Politics should not ever be considered as a mere spectator sport; it's a deadly serious business!
If you don't believe that just check out the casualties we experience every day, in terms of deaths, crimes committed, health crises, and all manner of economic sufferings and inequities.
I hate to put a damper on the party -political or otherwise- but addressing this elections situation always has to start at home.
If we can't do that here, where can we, and when?

OK, enough on that rant.
Here's a few personal choices that appeal to me, taking into account my track record for picking election winners isn't much to write home about. It seems I have this little problem of often voting with my heart, and not always with my head, and underdogs don't fare too well generally.
Reckon that's why they're called UNDER-dogs?

Anyway, here goes, for what it's worth:
[Hope no one gets too offended, but a few might. Anyway here's my current picks]
Port of Bellingham All (Whatcom)
Commissioner District 3 Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Jim Jorgensen [incumbent]

Michael J. Murphy

My gut tells me that its time for another change at the Port, so Murphy's my initial choice.
The last change has worked pretty well with Mike McCauley replacing longtime incumbent Doug Smith.
But Scott Walker is still there, and continues influencing Jorgenson, as well as the new Director, Charlie Sheldon, in the old ways of thinking -not all of which are bad. A better relationship with the City remains a work in progress, and is essential if the Waterfront Redevelopment and improvements to the Airport are to meet public expectations.

Whatcom County (Whatcom)
Executive Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Jack Louws

Doug Ericksen

Tom Anderson

David Stalheim

Ah, a real horserace, with, alas, no incumbent! Stalheim's late, surprise entry really intrigues me, and he is likely my first choice, although most may consider him a distinct underdog. He is a consummate professional in the field of Planning - a major hot button in these parts! His ridiculous, contrived ouster as Director of Planning for the County means he was way too knowledgeable on the shenanigans that continue to plague us, financed by the powerful development interests that also have several elected officials under control. I believe him to have all the management tools & experience necessary to responsibly head the County government.

Tom Anderson also has the right tools and motivation to effectively manage this County's affairs competently. His main deficiency is his low profile and lack of a galvanizing organization. If he can attract the votes he deserves, he can affect the outcome of this race, but maybe not win it.

Jack Louws is qualified for this position, by training, experience and heredity. His father was the County's first Executive. Jack is a true fiscal conservative and a Christian in the finest sense of the word. I don't always agree with Jack's positions, but I do respect where he is coming from. And, he would certainly be an improvement over our last County Executive! Louws may be the ultimate favorite in this race.

Doug Erickson is my absolute least favorite candidate in this race! He is a career political opportunist with no track record worth reviewing outside of partisan political circles. If he is elected the County is in deeper trouble than with our latest Executive. If cronyism and political posturing are what you think are needed here, then you are probably going to vote for Erickson. I hope not! He was recently elected as our State Senator after multiple, undistinguished terms as our State Representative in Olympia. That's where he belongs, if anywhere. Sorry to be this negative about DUUG, but he's worked hard to deserve it.

Council District 1 Position B Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Tony Larson [incumbent]

Pete Kremen

This was the first big surprise of these elections for me, which was covered yesterday's blog. Larson richly deserves being booted off the Council early, which the only reason I would support Pete for any other elected office. As awful as Pete has been over the past 16 years as County Executive, Larson has shown an utter disregard for issues, established protocols and reasonable respect for the public in general. He is truly a dangerous misfit in elected office. So, Pete wins and marginally improves the County Council's focus and commitment to doing things that are right for the entire populace.
Council District 2 Position B Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Sam R. Crawford [incumbent]

Christina Maginnis

Christina is my clear choice, not despite, but because of her underdog status. She is committed to priorities that are essential to the future well-being of Whatcom County, not just things that the growth at all costs people want. Sam, the incumbent, is going for his 4th term, which is generally too long for almost anyone in my view. But, that is especially true for folks like Sam who cleverly cultivate a benign image while brazenly conniving to benefit their cronies. I'm sorry to feel this way, but I have observed Sam at fairly close range for several years ever since he was first elected in the year 2000, and come to the conclusion that he is bad news! Previous blogs have commented on his disingenuous rhetoric, which purports to support mainstream priorities, but really doesn't. That's basically dishonest, and for no other better reason renders him unsuitable for representing the public at large. Sorry Sam, but you should know by now how I -and many others- feel about your insincerity and your poorly hidden private agendas. Begone!
Council District 3 Position B Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Barbara Brenner [incumbent]

Alan Black

This is another bit of a surprise, and a welcome one at that. Black is a newcomer underdog to one of the longest serving political dilettantes on the Council. Brenner paints herself as a long suffering champion of the average citizen, but acts more like self-serving gadfly, off her meds, who constantly seeks headlines, attention to herself and befuddling her colleagues and constituents as to her rationale for voting on many, diverse issues. It is clearly way past time for BB Gun to go away and find something else to do, out of the public trough. Of course, if she did, we'd miss the entertainment value of her driving her colleagues -including Pete Kremen- to complete distraction with her antics! I'd give that up in a heartbeat. But, rather than all negatives on BB, Mr Black apparently has some very fine credentials for a job in trusted public service, which I'd personally like to have him demonstrate by being elected. AB over BB here.
Assessor Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Keith M. Willnauer [incumbent]

No competition, nuff said. Guess he's doing an OK job.
Auditor Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

J. Lynne Walker

Debbie Adelstein

Neither candidate is an incumbent, although Adelstein has been an assistant in the office after working for Pete Kremen's office.
J Lynne is my choice, since I've worked with her since she became the Legislative Assistant to the Bellingham City Council in 2004.
Walker is a reliable and dedicated worker who can be trusted with public responsibilities. She deals with the public regularly and is always courteous and discrete, both virtues for a public servant in a high visibility job.

Sheriff Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Bill Elfo [incumbent]

Bob Taylor

Steve Harris

Law enforcement is always a priority in government and Sheriff is an important function. Elfo is the incumbent, has legal training and has performed his job capably and professionally for about 3 terms. I know of no improprieties during this time, and am of the opinion that Sheriff's can't often be considered as interchangeable parts. Therefore, I'm inclined to support this incumbent, without questioning the qualifications or fitness for office of the other two candidates.
Treasurer Nonpartisan office (4-year term

Steven Oliver [incumbent]

Brian Smith

Despite the announced, relatively unknown competition, Oliver's doing an OK job.
City of Bellingham (Whatcom)
Mayor Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Kelli Linville

Clayton Petree

Daniel V. Pike [incumbent]

Steve Moore

Now here's an interesting race, with two clear front-runners and two also rans.
Despite my strong support for Pike 4 years ago, this time I favor Linville, based upon her years of unusually productive service in the State Legislature representing the difficult 42nd District in northern Whatcom County. Kelli has much favorable history here and has a woman's light touch, which enables her to bring diverse views together and come up with reasonable resolutions to problems that most folks willingly accept. I like that, and I also like the numerous contacts she has developed on both sides of the political aisle throughout Washington, including our elected Federal officials. These relationships are increasingly important in these days of fiscal difficulty. I believe the Office of Mayor fits her well in this community, and wish her well.

Dan Pike, as a political newbie, has done a very credible job amid really hard budget times, and is to be commended for that. On the other hand, he's made far too many 'commitments' -or what folks thought sounded like commitments- than he has been able to deliver. His management style is forceful and sometimes ego-centric, which can invite opposition at times where it is not needed. The drastic budget cuts made during his administration have been as necessary as they were bold, but understandably have also caused pain. exacerbated somewhat by his sometimes aloof, detached behavior toward City staff. And, he has had some real difficulty in his relations with the City Council. One could chalk these impressions up to political naivete, but that may not be the entire explanation. Pike seems talkative, bright, ambitious and sometimes overly self-serving, all of which can spell trouble for politicians if they are not careful. Should Pike win again, the people will truly have spoken.

Petree has expressed some reasonable perspectives and should be given respect for running for elected office. Wouldn't be surprised if we didn't see him again sometime.

Moore is OK, but a bit of a hothead ideologue. He's been around the COC for years, mainly complaining about government at all levels. So, why does he now want to become part of it? Your guess is as good as mine.

Council Ward 1 Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Jack Weiss [incumbent]

No competition, nuff said. Jack really cares, and he's doing a really good job!
Council Ward 3 Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Cathy Lehman

Barry Buchanan [incumbent]

Here's another tough race, in which I'm again favoring the underdog newbie, Cathy Lehman, who's very competent and committed to two essential big issues; Growth Management and Environmental Conservation. Because these issues are so important, complicated and difficult, we need candidates who are willing and able to be advocates for them. New perspectives and ideas are always in demand, and are often evident in younger members of our community. But, Barry's done well in his one term, so if he wins reelection, that's OK too.
Council Ward 5 Nonpartisan office (4-year term)

Terry Bornemann [incumbent]

No competition, nuff said. Guess he's doing an OK job, though four terms ought to be the limit.
Council Ward At Large Nonpartisan office (2-year term)

Seth Fleetwood [incumbent]

Larry Farr

Yet another interesting race in which I'm liking the challenger, Farr, who has served the City well in appointed positions, including the former Traffic Commission. Larry has previously run -unsuccessfully- for office, which tells me he's more than a political opportunist. Seth is OK too, but seems now to be mostly biding his time on the City Council after two terms on the more contentious County Council. Of course, his candidacy for Mayor four years ago in a crowded field, may well have helped Dan Pike to victory.
"The people have the right, the indisputable, unalienable, indeafeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean the chracter and conduct of their rulers." - John Adams