Learn About Our 2017 Endorsed Candidates

Get Your Ballots in Now!  Here are our 2017 Endorsed Candidates

General Election
Election Date: November 7, 2017
Ballots Mailed: October 18, 2017

2017 Elections Ballot Measures  

Whatcom County Proposition 2017-6: Jail Tax
Vote: NO/Reject

Your Vote Counts
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General Election Endorsed Candidates

County Council:

  • Barry Buchanan (At Large)
  • Rud Browne (District 1)
  • Todd Donovan (District 2)
  • Rebecca Boonstra (District 3)

Port of Bellingham:

  • Michael Shepard (District 1)
  • Barry Wenger (District 2)

Bellingham City Council:

  • Roxanne Murphy (At Large)
  • Gene Knutson (Ward 2)
  • Pinky Vargas (Ward 4)
  • Michael Lilliquist (Ward 6)

Ferndale City Council:

  • Kate Hansen (Position 6)


County Council at Large:
Barry Buchanan

I have been working for Whatcom County as a County Councilmember for the past four years, and I’m dedicated to maintaining and improving our local quality of life.  Public service has always been at the forefront of my life.  I have served as the President of the Lettered Streets Neighborhood in Bellingham, Chair of the Whatcom County Democrats, and served a term on the Bellingham City Council before being elected to the Whatcom County Council.

With the current federal political climate, local policymakers need to use all the tools available to preserve our environment, local jobs, housing opportunities, public health and safety, and the rights of all our county residents.

Here are some of my accomplishments during my first term on the Whatcom County Council:

The Environment

  • Increased County commitments to restore Lake Whatcom and improve our marine habitat in the Salish Sea
  • Stood strong against the coal and oil industry by leading the way for implementation of a moratorium on all new and expanded facilities related to exporting coal, crude oil and natural gas
  • Instituted the policy to ban fracking in Whatcom County
  • Supported food systems by planning for more sustainable local agriculture

Public Health and Safety

  • Worked hard on criminal justice reform to reduce incarceration, provide alternatives to jail, and improve resources for mental illness and substance abuse
  • Led the effort to craft the successful Emergency Medical Services levy to preserve and expand advanced life support (paramedic) services for all Whatcom County residents
  • Sponsored the Health in Planning resolution to create a method for ensuring access to both commercial and open space areas in new development
  • While serving as the Whatcom County Board of Health Chair, the Whatcom County Health Department received their first national accreditation

The Economy

  • Preserved jobs at Cherry Point by blocking plans to ship refinery jobs overseas along with exporting unrefined fossil fuels
  • Supported Economic Development Investment (EDI) funds for expansion of All American Marine on Bellingham’s waterfront
  • Led efforts to create affordable housing and improve access to resources for underserved populations

Several new and ongoing issues face our community, and I am prepared to deal with these challenges:

The Jail

I oppose the current jail funding ballot measure that is going before the voters in November. We need a new jail, but effective strategic planning has not been used to determine the size. We need more time for the Incarceration Prevention and Reduction Taskforce to propose and implement programs that can reduce the size of the jail. If the jail size can be reduced, we can expect construction and operating expenses to be lower and we will have more funds available for mental health and substance abuse treatment. I am also concerned that the 0.2% sales tax increase uses up all of the public safety resource capacity.

Affordable Housing

I know we need public and private efforts that will reduce the cost of housing projects and provide affordable housing options for Whatcom County residents. An example of this public/private partnership is dedicating public land to housing projects and using incentives to help offset infrastructure costs (impact fees, water/sewer hook-up fees, etc.). These public investments will motivate private sector developers to create affordable housing. In addition, non-profit organizations can help to secure grants and other funding mechanisms. These partnerships will benefit all Whatcom County communities.


More solutions are needed to house the homeless population in Whatcom County. Public/private partnerships can be put in place to develop homeless shelters, and funding needs to continue for the local non-profit sector to create and administer programs to end homelessness. Creative programs can be developed to help our homeless population with education, employment, transportation, and medical and mental illness treatment.

Hirst Decision

The Washington State Legislature has let us down in Whatcom County and throughout the state by not dealing with the problem of wells and in-stream flow rules through legislative action. We now must create a local solution. I believe that Whatcom County needs to come up with mitigation strategies that can keep exempt wells from affecting in-stream flows. Some of these strategies could be water banking, increased service for public water purveyors (PUD #1 and other county water districts), rain catchment, and seasonal conservation and use programs.

My family has lived in Whatcom County for four generations. I am a US Navy veteran, a graduate of Bellingham High School, and involved in our local community. I will stand strong for our human rights, tribal treaty rights, our environment, our community’s public health and safety, and the economy in our county. 

Barry has received endorsements from the following groups: Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Whatcom County Democrats, 40th Legislative District Democrats, 42nd Legislative District Democrats, Bellingham/Whatcom County Firefighters Local 106, Northwest WA Labor Council, Teamsters Local 231, SEIU 1199NW Health Care Workers, and the Young Democrats of Whatcom County. 



County Council District 1:
Rud Browne

My name is Rud Browne and I am running for re-election to the Whatcom County Council in the new district one. I have lived in Bellingham for 23 years, this is where I raised my family and built a business that created 360 jobs, 140 right here in Whatcom County.  I care deeply about protecting our community and the spectacular environment that we have here in Whatcom County as well as building a strong economy that provides living wage jobs.

I have received over 400 endorsements including the following organizations:

  •     Washington Conservation Voters
  •     Bellingham/Whatcom County Firefighters, IAFF Local 106
  •     Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest & Hawaii
  •     Whatcom Democrats
  •     Washington Teamsters Legislative League
  •     Teamsters Joint Council No. 28
  •     SEIU Healthcare 1199 NW
  •     Northwest Washington Central Labor Council
  •     Whatcom County Association of Realtors
  •     Sierra Club – Mt. Baker Group
  •     Riveters Collective
  •     Young Democrats of Whatcom County
  •     40th LD Democrats
  •     42nd LD Democrats

Please visit www.voterudbrowne.com  for the full list.

I am currently finishing my first term in public office as your old At-Large representative, where I have been a proud progressive vote, and the leading advocate for broader Council roles in economic development

I am concerned that our great educational institutions produce some of the brightest and boldest educated new work force, yet all too often our graduates are unable to find a decent job here and are forced to move elsewhere to build their careers. The future of our community will be shaped by our ability to retain this talented generation.

I am also deeply concerned about both environmental protections and the rising cost of housing. I believe that if we don’t find a balanced approach to our water use that we could see both a further loss of fish habitat plus a significant increase in housing prices in Bellingham and across the county.

During my first term I made it a goal to learn by visiting County employees on the job – from riding with EMS teams and Sheriffs deputies to in-depth briefings at the 911 call center, the Jail and Work center, Public Works, Health, Planning and Development departments. I have also met with 100’s of constituents across the county to be better able to represent their needs and learn their perspective on a wide variety of important issues such as our approach to criminal justice and replacement of our jail.

As an award-winning successful business entrepreneur, I built the first business in the world focused on the reuse and recycling of mobile computers, which previously had been thrown away. As the former employer of hundreds of tech-savvy employees, I ran an environmentally sustainable operation that fueled local families with good jobs and benefits.

Serving on the Whatcom County Council is a remarkable challenge. It is the best education a person could ask for, and there is never a dull moment with quick-changing situations, unexpected policy-twists, heart-wrenching constituency complaints, and the gift of getting to meet so many great county citizens. However, the next four years likely will have more challenges than the last four in this new era of federal meddling in our environment, the same underfunded state budget status and our own area’s need for more jobs plus affordable housing. I look forward to defending, developing and finding new ways to improve our community’s quality of life. I would appreciate your vote and support.



County Council District 2:
Todd Donovan

For two decades I worked outside of government to promote healthy communities. More recently, I was honored to be elected to Whatcom County Council. I am running for re-election to represent the North Bellingham district where I have lived for over 25 years.  I’m running for reelection because I understand the progressive values that should define our future.

As your representative, I work to protect our quality of life.

Our quality of life depends on promoting healthy, thriving communities. Since I’ve been on Council, we have stopped one of the world’s largest coal export facilities from being placed on our shores that nurture herring and salmon. I’m also working to protect our economy and jobs from the threat of increased amounts of crude oil arriving by rail; oil that could be shipped out of Cherry Point without being refined at facilities here that support family wage jobs.

On Council, I have been supporting efforts to invest our County’s economic development funds into efforts at attracting new businesses and retaining those that are here.  Much more work needs to be done, but wages and job growth are increasing in Whatcom County. This puts pressure on housing costs. I’m also working to broaden the range of housing options that are built in our community.

Heathy communities require sensible criminal justice policies. I opposed the proposal for a large new jail in Ferndale prior to being elected, and I still do.  I support a safe new jail – smaller, and smarter, than what is proposed. I’ll work so any new or improved facility includes programs for treatment for the mentally ill and investment in programs that divert people from jail in the first place.

While in office, I have been working to protect drinking water in Lake Whatcom, and I am working to increase the pace of protecting the lake from pollution. I’m also working to protect water quality in our rivers, streams and shellfish beds.

I know the value of hard work, and I know what it is when there is not enough money to make it through the month. My mom struggled to support our family, and I’ve worked to support myself since high school. And I know what it means to succeed. My mom reentered the workforce as a social worker and managed to get her four kids to work their ways through college.  She raised us in a labor (SEIU) household, and I’m proud to be endorsed by labor: SEIU 1199, the Teamsters, the Central Labor Council (AFL-CIO), and Bellingham / Whatcom Firefighters 106. And I’m proud to be endorsed by every Democratic organization in Whatcom County.

I am fairly new to elected office, but I have learned some key things. Governing is about working together. It’s about listening, not shouting. It’s about being objective, rather than dogmatic. It’s about finding real facts, not following ideology.  Governing is crafting difficult solutions to complex problems, it’s not promising simple fixes.

I am committed to governing, not politics. I would be honored to continue to represent you.



County Council District 3:
Rebecca Boonstra

I’m running for Whatcom County Council because I would like to protect our environment, give people access to trails and help more people get outside.  I also want to create and implement programs on a County level to get people working. I am interested in apprenticeships and am in the process of learning about how we can help those with barriers to employment find living wage jobs.

  • What do you consider to be your most significant accomplishments or contributions to your community?

I have worked in a number of capacities in the Foothills over the years. Currently, I am the Executive Director of the Mt. Baker Chamber of Commerce. Recently, I was elected to the Board of Commissioners of the Columbia Valley Parks and Recreation District. In addition, I am the Chair of the East Whatcom Community Council and I also serve on the Board of Directors of the Opportunity Council. I have participated in the East Whatcom Community Council since its start in 2011 and became the chair in 2013. In addition, I am a fierce volunteer for my community. An example would be, for the past 3 years, I have volunteered with the East Whatcom Mobile Food Pantry. They provide donated food by grocery stores and other large companies to the people of East Whatcom that need it for their families.

  • Why do you seek elective office? What are your top priorities and objectives as an elected official?

Starting with my experience in the PTA, I have been working toward a position on the Whatcom County Council for the past 15 years. I think it is important that the leadership of a community changes from time to time. My priorities and objectives that I will focus on if I am elected is to provide clean water, protect our resources, create and implement productive programs to alleviate our local job crisis. In essence, I would like to provide a sustainable future for our citizens.

  • What is your strategy for winning this race?  

District 3 is the largest district in Whatcom County and it is comprised of all the unincorporated areas. I have lived in unincorporated Whatcom County for 15 years. So, it is very important to me to reach out to as many people as possible in the district.  One of the first steps in the process was to meet with leaders in each of the communities that make up the District 3.  These are the people who are the most knowledgeable about their communities and have the ability to connect me with members in their communities. Those are the people who will help me make decisions as a council member.  I have a local kitchen cabinet and advisors throughout the county. I am hitting our designated field and fundraising targets with the help of my campaign manager, interns, and volunteers. Also, I am seeking as many relevant endorsements as I can. The Whatcom Democrats, Young Democrats of Whatcom County, 42nd Legislative District Democrats, Sierra Club/Mt Baker Group, Riveters Collective, NW WA Central Labor Council, IAFF Local 106, Teamsters Local 231, Washington Conservation Voters and National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington have endorsed me.

  • How do you differ from your Republican opponent?

Unlike my opponent, I’m very active in my community. I’ve lived in East Whatcom for 15 years so I have created and maintained connections with people in my area and throughout Whatcom County. In addition, I am a dedicated volunteer and my ultimate goal is to be involved in building a strong, interconnected community throughout our County. The way I choose to be productive in my community is to gather information and to be a resource in my community. Another difference between my Republican opponent and me is that I have sought and have gained an endorsement from the Whatcom Democrats. I am proud of that endorsement and my values align with the values of a true Democrat. I want to create plans now to help improve life for people now and for generations to come.

  • Why should the voter choose you?

Voters should choose me because I have the experience it takes as well as the ability to listen, collaborate, and be a team player. I pride myself on always learning and I want to know as much as I can. With that said, I will do my best to represent you and your values if I am elected to the Whatcom County Council.



Port of Bellingham District 1:
Michael Shepard

My name is Michael Shepard and I am a candidate for the Port Commission District 1. My campaign is focused on bringing a fresh, new perspective to the Port. I’m running for the Port because we all know Whatcom County is a great place to live to, but an increasingly hard place to afford. The Port is the only local governing body specifically charged with countywide economic development and job creation. We have lots of opportunity and work to do here. My other main reasons for running are wanting to see more progress on the GP Waterfront Redevelopment project and having our Port take regional environmental sustainability leadership.

I am a lifelong Democrat and a 20-year resident of Whatcom County. I love making Whatcom County my home. I have worked for the Whatcom County Parks, Whatcom Community College, Northwest Indian College, and Western Washington University. I have two degrees from Western Washington University, and completed my Ph.D. at the University of British Columbia. Currently, I teach graduate and undergraduate eLearning classes in Environmental Studies, Anthropology and Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College and Palo Verde College. I am also a Research Associate at Western’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. I am a member of the Portage Bay Shellfish Advisory Commission, and a board member for the Kulshan Community Land Trust.

My wife, Minh, is a teacher at Kulshan Middle School. We have two young children, and own a home in Bellingham’s Fountain District. Our family deeply cares about Whatcom County, and I am dedicated to providing progressive civic service to the people of Whatcom County. My campaign earned 59.3% of the vote in the August primary, and have been endorsed by over 14 labor unions and local organizations, including the Washington Conservation Voters, the Whatcom Democrats, the Whatcom Commercial Fishermen’s Association and Bellingham/Whatcom Fire Fighters.

The Port election is a very important race this year, because we have the chance to elect a progressive majority to the Port Commission. Because the Port is in charge of creating policies to guide the economic development and growth of Whatcom County, it is crucial that we elect progressives into office. Additionally, the Port of Bellingham has unique authority to foster family wage job creation. The Port can work to support existing businesses, attract new ones and incubate the employers of tomorrow. While the Port often works in partnership with marine trades and airport related companies, it can also work on supporting high tech, value-added agriculture and outdoor recreation sectors. The Port also has jurisdiction over the environmental protection, clean-up, and the creation of public access to Port properties. Many people in Whatcom County do not know what the Port does, and it is our campaign’s goal to spread awareness of the positive work the Port and Port Commissioners do for Whatcom County!

As a candidate for Port Commission, there are many issues that I am passionate about. Finding solutions to long-term housing affordability, creating family-wage jobs, the Waterfront Redevelopment and environmental sustainability are top on that list. I recognize that Bellingham is in a housing crisis currently, with prices continually rising. The Port of Bellingham can be an ally in promoting a variety of dense, urban housing options for our community. More houses are only part of the solution, people need family-wage jobs to afford to those homes as well. Housing will be one part of the Waterfront Redevelopment. I will work to ensure immediate public access to that site and greater development progress. I want that site to reflect our community’s cultural values and meet our economic needs.

My campaign recognizes that the local economy and the environment are inherently connected. I will take action to promote a broad conceptualization of economic development and support projects that increase environmental sustainability, while also promoting positive economic development. If the Port invests in restoration of salmon habitat through dam removal and culvert mediation, we are also employing people to do that work. If the Port sets a goal of producing all the power it uses, we can invest in locally made solar panels. If the Port partners on development of value-added agriculture and agro-tourism, we keep profits local. And finally, if the Port invests in making Whatcom County the outdoor recreation capital of the Northwest, we support a vibrant and sustainable economy.

Unlike my Republican opponent, I have a clear, progressive vision for the Port of Bellingham. I believe the Port should actively invest public resources for public benefit. My Republican opponent wants the Port to be run primarily as a private business, and I disagree. The Port should be a place that can be shared with the community and be open to all. I also differ from my Republican opponent, because I have a vision. While my opponent may have expertise in Port issues, I have seldom heard what he would like to accomplish in another term as Commissioner. I know what I would like to accomplish, and have much enthusiasm for positive change at the Port. My opponent has been endorsed by the Republican Party of Whatcom County. I am proud to be endorsed by the Whatcom Democrats and I served a Precinct Committee Officer between 2009 and 2012. I thank you for your help winning us the primary and ask for your continued support in the November general election.



Port of Bellingham District 2:
Barry Wenger

As a long-time senior environmental planner for the State Department of Ecology, I have worked with many Puget Sound Port officials, citizens, marine businesses and trades, commercial fishers and others to redevelop and cleanup their waterfronts in an environmentally-sound and economically responsible manner. These initiatives have brought important waterfront projects to fruition through the Sound and allowed him to develop excellent collaborative negotiation and communication skills and build trust amongst a wide array of stakeholders to collectively solve problems.  I also has the experience of working both with business and with government to find common ground and get things done.

I stand for a Port that generates prosperity and represents the interests of our entire community. This includes commercial fishers, boaters, light industry, shipping terminal customers, and marine businesses and trades. I believe that full public access to our waterfront and where appropriate, mixed-use sustainable development are equally important.

The Port is responsible for generating economic prosperity and representing the interests of our entire community. I want to make sure that we preserve our commercial fishing and marine trades industries and foster business and job growth, especially in the clean energy sector. Itek Industry—the state’s largest manufacturer of solar panels—is now re-locating to the waterfront. I believe the Port should continue to attract companies like Itek that are in the business solar and of wind generation, energy storage and energy efficiency so as to strengthen our economy. I also want the Port to generate jobs in the recreational, tourist and entertainment industries as waterfront redevelopment continues.

My approach is focused on the needs of the community, while my Republican opponent has close ties to big money interests, including oil companies and the coal terminal proposal. In 2015, my Republican opponent emerged as a spokesperson for the coal industry’s gerrymandering scheme, and as recently as this year, major fossil fuel companies have given to his campaign. By contrast, I have spent my career focused on advancing the public interest, and hope to help build a port that’s focused on the right kinds of economic development: living wage job creation that aligns with our community’s assets and progressive values. I am especially committed to seeking out and securing union employers, fostering growth in local business, and calibrating the Port’s economic development engine to the needs of high tech and clean energy industries. Unlike my Republican opponent, I will  put the needs of Whatcom County’s residents ahead of out-of-state fossil fuel companies and know that the Port’s role is to secure economic development that offers public benefits, especially for those who most need it. Instead of economic development at any cost, I believe the Port has a responsibility to collaborate with partner agencies and to deliver solutions that serve the whole community.

With the right mix of extensive experience in waterfront development, thorough knowledge of port issues, and a firm commitment to economic justice and environmental sustainability, I am the right choice to secure a port for the people.



Bellingham City Council at Large:
Roxanne Murphy

I am a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe and was the very first person of color elected to the Bellingham City Council in 2013 with 73 percent of the vote. In 2015, I was re-elected with 100 percent of the vote when I ran unopposed, and I hope you will please vote for me in the November 7, 2017, General Election.

I have lived in Washington State all of my life, and have worked as a community and public relations professional for organizations including The Woodland Park Zoo, Weyerhaeuser Company and The City of Tacoma. I hold a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from The Evergreen State College.

I have proven to be a reliable and fair leader, and have personally brought forward positive social changes in the City of Bellingham. The Council approved my initiative to replace Columbus Day with Coast Salish Day. I fought for paid and safe sick leave in Bellingham, and then volunteered for the Statewide Initiative that brought this leave and a higher minimum wage to every worker in Washington State. The Council also voted in favor of my Resolution to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Council also approved my Resolution asking the Bellingham voters to Decline to Sign Initiative 1552 as one way of standing in solidarity with our Transgender community, while also defending Washington State’s legacy of anti-discrimination. Most recently, the Council approved my Resolution to stand in solidarity and support the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

Over the last four years, I have continued to protect our environment, fight for affordable and all housing, increase infill and positive economic development, support our parks and recreation, while also volunteering to help get the 2016 Emergency Medical Services levy passed.

I have earned 100 percent of the endorsements that I have sought, including support from the Whatcom County Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Northwest Washington Central Labor Council, Planned Parenthood Votes and The Whatcom County Association of Realtors.

Each and every year, I work with organizations like Elect Her and the Women’s Political Caucus of Washington to encourage women and people of color to run for office. In 2016, I served as a faculty in residence through Washington State University’s National Education for Women Leadership Summer Institute. During this week-long experience, I served as a mentor to college women from throughout Washington State to encourage each of them to develop as leaders and run for public office.

Here’s another reason to RoxTheVote: What started as a New Year’s Resolution has turned into a way of life and I haven’t had a drop of alcohol or any kind of substance in almost three years. This is now my personal protest against all of the ways that substances harm our society, and the way they especially hurt our women and children.

I also use my public profile to encourage people to live an overall healthy life. Each year, I train to be one of a handful of women who rides her bike 100 miles in a day through the Chuckanut Classic ride. You can also find me practicing yoga, doing barre classes, power walking, hiking, weight lifting, swimming and flying down Mt. Baker on my skis.

Lastly, I have helped improve my Tribe’s Youth Department where I currently serve as the director in managing an After School and Summer Program. Through this position, I helped grow the program and services from an average of 30 to now 85 Nooksack youth, while effectively overseeing a staff of up to 24 employees, and balancing a million dollar budget with the utmost fiscal responsibility. Your vote for me will help me continue to be a positive role model for all of the Tribal youth that I work with!

We hope you’ll support Roxanne so this unique and qualified leadership will continue!

For more information, and especially to donate to help Roxanne get reelected, please visit www.roxthevote.com.



Bellingham City Council Ward 6:
Michael Lilliquist

I am seeking re-election to the Bellingham City Council, and I am grateful for your support for endorsement by the Whatcom Democrats, to enable me to continue working for your and our shared values. 

I have a strong record of public engagement and hard work, and I am proud of the progressive record of the City Council as a whole. I believe that now, when an incompetent and unethical president disgraces the White House, is the right time to renew our faith in democracy.  I am a true believer in self-government and in our progressive values of equity, inclusion, and environmental stewardship.

I believe in inclusion and equity. That means I spend countless hours attending gatherings, neighborhood meetings, and reaching out and listening to all voices. It also means that I work to make every neighborhood a good place to live, with bike paths and safe sidewalks for every schoolchild. I have fought to make sure our public spending on parks and trails benefits all parts of our community, particularly denser and lower income areas.

I believe safety and justice go hand-in-hand. That means every person must be respected and protected, regardless of documentation or ethnic background. I believe everyone should feel l safe to call 911 in case of trouble or to ask for help. That is why I voted to officially prohibit our police from any involvement in civil immigration enforcement actions or inquiries.

I want a livable and living world for our children. That means I support moving to clean energy, leaving fossil fuels behind, through my efforts to close down coal-fired plants supplying electricity to Bellingham. That also why I voted to increase funding for Lake Whatcom, and to shift our efforts to restoration rather than prevention only. That’s also why I have pushed for a lake restoration schedule that moves faster than the maximum allowed 50-year period.

I believe in affordable housing. That means I support the “housing first” model to offer support and re-integration of people experiencing homelessness. I campaigned for the city’s housing levy, and gratefully voted to support new affordable housing projects in Bellingham – including new housing for seniors, for teens and young adults, for survivors of domestic violence, for women with children, and for low-income farm workers.  I also worked to change a state law, to enable cities like Bellingham to waive building fees for qualified low income housing projects.

I believe in building a better future for all of us.  I ask for your vote in November!

Michael Lilliquist



City Council Ward 4:
Pinky Vargas

It’s been a privilege and pleasure to serve the last four years on Bellingham City Council, and I’m dedicated to making the City of Bellingham just as vibrant and beautiful as it’s people.

I have the Leadership and vision for an equitable and sustainable future and I’m focused on the biggest challenges we are facing: Housing, Homelessness, and Economic Development.  They cannot be solved in isolation and I’m working towards a collaborative Regional Economic Strategy that includes the county, cities, port, tribes and neighbors to the north. We must foster partnerships to create opportunities, housing and jobs.

I first became a council member to be a voice for women, the environment, and social justice, which feels even more critical today. I’ve had the opportunity to author a Resolution of support for “Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood”, ensured funding for art on infrastructure, championed the Emergency Medical Services and Greenways initiatives, and officially adopting the Bellingham Flag!

During my time on council I’ve been working towards a renewable future and supporting a strong Climate Action Plan. I was Instrumental in leading Bellingham in a National Energy Prize, (www.guep.org) efforts that awarded me PSE’s “Energy Award”.  I’ve Advocated for water quality on Lake Whatcom, ensured our renewed commitment in the Paris Climate Accord, and my leadership in the Green Power Challenge won the city $50,000 for a community solar installation.

While serving as President of City Council, I led planning for smart growth, equitability, and options for housing and affordability.  My leadership on the Jail Task Force committee ensured a focus on reducing incarceration, a right-sized jail, equitable conditions, and dedicated funding for mental health, alternatives and diversion programs.

My big family and love of community fuels my desire to enhance our quality of life, which is exhibited by my active community engagement. Through my service on the Whatcom Tourism Board I’ve been able to promote tourism through arts, outdoor recreation and grants for events like Traverse and SeaFeast. Past boards include: Opportunity Council, Mount Baker Theatre, and Lake Whatcom Natural Resources. While Serving on the Parks and Recreation committee this year, I’ve approved projects like Bike Pump Tracks, Community Gardens, and Kids Spray Parks!

Supporting local business is a key element to our economic vitality. I work with our business community daily through my various roles and I was nominated for “Whatcom Professional Women of the Year”. I’m currently Chair of Community and Economic Development Committee, and serve on the Boards for Bellingham Chamber of Commerce and the , Downtown Bellingham Partnership, and Whatcom Tourism.  I have worked for Puget Sound Energy for 8 years, with businesses and organizations on Emergency Preparedness, Safety, and Energy Efficiency.

I’m passionate about finding ways to encourage women to unite and take action. Demonstrated by my enthusiastic speech at the Women’s March encouraging women to amplify their voices and step up to positions of leadership. I hope to be a role-model for young girls, and I dream of a day when we have more diverse representation of gender and ethnicity in our government.

I have a vision of a vibrant, healthy city for everyone and believe in using politics to improve people’s lives. I stand for equity, civil rights, and protection for LGBTQ, immigrants, women, the environment, economic vitality and reducing incarceration. I hope you will stand with me and re-elect me to Bellingham City Council. Thank you, Pinky.



City Council Ward 2:
Gene Knutson

I am a lifelong resident of Bellingham and the longest-serving member of the Bellingham City Council, having begun my first term in 1994. In 2015, I served as Council Presiden. I am currently the Chair of the Planning Committee and serve on the Lake Whatcom/Natural Resources Committee and the Public Works/Public Safety Committee.  

Deeply rooted in the community, I have a vested personal interest in Bellingham and its continued improvement. I worked for Bellingham Cold Storage Company since 1975. My many years of service on the Council have ingrained in me the importance of keeping in touch with citizens across all areas of the City, and listening to everyone’s viewpoint so that I can make the best decisions for our community. I know that the citizens of Bellingham elected me and that those are the people for whom I am working.

I have always been interested in serving the public, driven by my desire to give something back to the community I grew up in. Over the years my priorities have reflected this. I have worked to continue the Greenways program, continued to set up more play fields for the youth in Bellingham, and have made sure that the city is a safe place to live. Protecting quality of life in Bellingham, throughout our neighborhoods, is a key issue I am focused on.

Some of the projects that I have worked which are of special importance include working to fund the Civic Field renovation project, the purchase of the ice arena for use by the Soccer Commission, the Depot Market Square project, and working with the Boys and Girls Club towards the completion of their new building. I also helped steer the completion of the Waterfront Master Plan in 2013.

 “I am very proud to work for the citizens of Bellingham. It is a wonderful community.” – Gene Knutson, January 2017



Ferndale City Council:
Kate Hansen

My name is Kate Hansen and I am running for Ferndale City Council. I was born and raised in Northern California and received a Bachelor of Arts from University of California, Santa Cruz in Community Studies: Healthcare Inequalities. While studying community health I completed internships at Santa Cruz AIDS Project and Planned Parenthood Mar Monte. The Public Affairs Department at Planned Parenthood is where I got my start in politics. I managed a campaign fighting against a proposition that would have restricted women’s reproductive freedom. The proposition was defeated and she felt energized and compelled to continue working to improve community, wherever that may be.  After graduating college in 2006, I moved to Whatcom County, and found the place I wanted to call home.

I temporarily left Whatcom County while my husband held down the fort at home, so I could pursue something I’d always wanted to do: serve in the United States Peace Corps. I found myself in a hospital in Mongolia, primarily focused on public health and education work. Once back stateside, I worked with youth as a Homelessness Prevention Specialist at The Y’s Oasis Teen Shelter. Afterward, I moved on to Program Manager at Sun Community Service, which has both a homeless shelter and permanent housing for adults with mental illness, many of whom are transitioning from jail back into the community.  For the last several years I have been working in mental health at two community health organizations; first Compass Health and now Unity Care NW. I also have a history of extensive volunteer work and has given her time to Project Homeless Connect, Shuksan Middle School, and St. Francis of Bellingham. Currently I am serving as Board Secretary for Ferndale Community Service Cooperative.

In both my professional and personal life I am proud of what I have achieved, working for a successful state-level campaign, navigating our healthcare system as an advocate for the underrepresented, and collaborating with city level government and police agencies in an effort to reduce homelessness countywide. Working with the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods, I feel compelled to run a campaign to represent all of the city’s residents.  And having worked extensively in the non-profit sector, I am someone who understands the value of solving problems without wasting time and resources.

Ferndale is changing and as it grows I will bring a wide-range of experience and skills to work for the citizens as their City Councilwoman. I am passionate about ensuring access to social services that benefit the whole community, such as housing, jail alternatives, healthcare, and more. I have dealt firsthand with the affordable housing crisis in our county and will work with the city to create affordable, clean, and safe solutions. Part of this picture is to improve public transportation in Ferndale for those that rely on it to meet their needs.

Ferndale also faces other growth-based challenges as people flock to the city, many to settle down and raise their family. As not only an experienced non-profit professional, but as a  mom and homeowner in Ferndale, I am the right person to take on those challenges. I care about and will champion the needs of working families, local business owners, and long-time residents to ensure a high quality of a life for all who share the community.

Industries at Cherry Point supply many Ferndale residents with family wage jobs. I will work hard to make sure that these jobs are not shipped overseas and stay right here to support families in Ferndale. This is how the economy can work with the environment to everyone’s benefit, as in addition to retaining jobs, this will prevent the need to export unrefined crude oil to countries with much lower ecological standards. As a City Councilwoman, I will strive to bring more businesses and jobs to Ferndale as well. Incentivizing new businesses to open in existing buildings on Main Street will help liven up downtown while maintaining Ferndale’s small-town charm. It’s also important for Ferndale to attract businesses that will benefit the current residents while bringing in revenue from sales tax so the city can thrive.

As one of the fastest growing cities in the state, Ferndale’s infrastructure needs to keep up. It is important that the waste water treatment plant be up to the challenge. The city also needs to push forward on improving roads and traffic flow so everyone can spend less time getting home. I also support expanding our parks and trails to keep Ferndale beautiful and family friendly, while better connecting the community.

Ferndale needs Kate, a good problem solver who works well with people from all walks of life, to collaborate and come up with creative solutions to the challenges facing the city. I am proud to be endorsed by Whatcom Democrats, 42nd Legislative District Democrats, Washington State National Organization for Women, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington, and Teamsters Local 231. Please follow Kate’s campaign on Facebook.

Bellingham School Board

Bellingham School Board Pos 4:
Jenn Mason

I’m a Pacific Northwest native, lifelong Democrat, mom, and outspoken community advocate. For the past 15 years, I’ve worked directly with and on behalf of children and families in Whatcom County, addressing issues including child abuse, teen dating violence, homelessness, and disability rights. I’m the former Development and Education Director for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, where I worked with over 10,000 students across every public middle and high school in the County.

Today, my work includes parenting a daughter with cerebral palsy, who attends Bellingham School District’s Developmental Preschool. I also own a small business as an event planning and communication professional, but have continued to be a strong advocate for those in need. I’m currently the Board President for Brigid Collins Family Support Center, serve on Bellingham School District’s Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, and assist seniors in their home through the Volunteer Chore Program. I have a B.A. from Western Washington University in Communication and Sociology, and a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University. I believe that young people are the solution, not the problem, and I look forward to representing the children and youth in our community!