Both Spokane and Whatcom County have released the first wave of their election returns to unclear results, with many of the races too close to comfortably call.
For the mayoral race in Bellingham, it seems that former 42nd District legislator Kelli Linville has taken the lead by about 400 votes; we’ll see if that lead is maintained as time goes on. Incumbent Dan Pike has been trying to distinguish himself from Kelli by taking a strong stance on the proposed Cherry Point Coal Terminal despite it being an issue he or the city council would not be able to directly decide and Linville’s similar repeated opposition to coal terminal. Considering union endorsements of Kelli Linville, playing up the divide the coal terminal creates between environmentalists and the labor movement seems to have been a move on Pike’s part to display the differences between the candidates and appeal to a different voting bloc.
In this vein the current results are curious, because either the coal terminal didn’t resonate as a thematic issue with voters in this year’s election or the enivironmental votes still need to be counted by the auditor’s office; Alan Black and Christina Maginnis are behind in the Whatcom County Council races, and Pete Kremen, the current County Executive, only holds a slight lead in his County Council election, a running for positions which will have decisive power in the next few years to set up obstacles to SSA Marine’s permit.
Pete Kremen will probably widen his lead to Tony Larson; Christina Maginnis and Alan Black will move closer to pulling off a victory in their respective races as more ballots are counted, especially because of the tendency of young voters to vote later in the election period (Maginnis is losing by a smaller margin than Alan Black is). We’ll stay hopeful on this front. All three were endorsed by the Washington Conservation Voters in their opposition to the coal terminal.
Back to Bellingham, Cathy Lehman has trounced Barry Buchanan in the race for the city council seat in Ward 3; Lehman has run a very personable campaign and has embraced a variety of issues in her first run for office. She’ll be a strong voice on the council for solving many of the problems which Bellingham will face in the coming years. Incumbent Seth Fleetwood has defeated the Tea Party-inclined challenger Larry Farr for the council at-large position.
Moving across the state to the City of Spokane, one ballot item shines out; Proposition 1, which was the most recent iteration of a push to give the city a Community Bill of Rights, including a provision to give enforceable rights to the Spokane River and living wage protections inside the city. The proposition, put forward by Envision Spokane, failed the last time it was put on the ballot, in large part to an advisory question inserted by a city councilmember which implied that taxes would have to be raised if the Bill of Rights was passed. Such a question was not put on the ballot this year, and currently the measure is only behind by 115 votes. If this passes, it would be a historic event, and it is definitely a situation which should be kept an eye on.
There are definitely a lot more interesting races in these areas, but we decided to give you an overview of some of the most pertinent. We’ll make sure to keep you updated on any new developments in these races as we get more information from the auditors’ offices.