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Welcome to the Fuse Progressive Voters Guide to the 2019 primary election! The Progressive Voters Guide compiles the information you need to make decisions about the races on your ballot based on your values.
Remember to return your ballot by Tuesday, August 6, and share this guide with your friends!
Depending on where you live, you may have the below races on your ballot.
There are two progressive candidates in this race: Senator Liz Lovelett and Carrie Blackwood. Lovelett has earned strong support from our Progressive Voters Guide partners because of her impressive performance during her first legislative session.
Sen. Liz Lovelett is running to retain her seat in Legislative District 40 after being appointed to the state Senate in February. Lovelett is a fifth-generation Anacortes resident who previously served on the Anacortes City Council. In her first few months in office, Lovelett prioritized environmental conservation and played a key role in passing legislation protecting orcas and the Salish Sea. If elected this November, Lovelett will also prioritize increasing affordable housing and expanding services for our neighbors experiencing homelessness.
Carrie Blackwood is a progressive labor lawyer and community activist in Bellingham who is running for state Senate in Legislative District 40. Blackwood, the daughter of immigrants, overcame challenges early in her life to earn a law degree and become an advocate for working families. Her campaign platform proposes a comprehensive “green transition” for our economy to heal our environment and create living wage jobs. She also supports reforming our state’s upside-down tax code to make the wealthy pay their share.
Endorsed By: Riveters Collective, 40th Legislative District Democrats (dual), Lummi Nation Business Council
There are two good progressives running for Whatcom County Executive: Satpal S. Sidhu and Karen Burke. We lean toward Sidhu because of his support from local progressive advocates.
Satpal Sidhu is a small business owner and former dean of Bellingham Technical College who has called Whatcom County home for 30 years. Sidhu has served on the Whatcom County Council since 2015 and is a current board member on the Whatcom Community College Foundation and the NW Agricultural Business Center. He supports the preservation of farmland, bringing family-wage jobs to the county, improving water quality, and addressing housing shortages for future residents.
Karen Burke is the executive director of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services of Whatcom County. She is the former director of the Lummi Nation Tribal Court and the Lummi Nation Child Support Program. Burke is dedicated to bringing together a coalition of family farmers, the Department of Ecology, the Nooksack Tribe, and the Lummi Nation to work on water protection. She has been working towards and will continue to support substance abuse treatment programs, and will work on reducing incarceration and crime through diversion and rehabilitation programs. Burke supports clean and sustainable energy alternatives at Cherry Point as the state transitions from fossil fuels.
Running against Satpal and Burke are Tony Larson and Jim Boyle. Larson is the president of the Whatcom Business Alliance. A former Whatcom County Council member, Larson is running as a business candidate and is focused on increasing economic opportunities for businesses. Jim Boyle works for the Organization for Tropical Studies on international environmental issues. His previous positions as a Forest Service firefighter and a bison ranch manager for the Nature Conservancy underline his enthusiasm for working on sustainability issues. His campaign is focused on building a strong economy, protecting the environment, and improving local quality of life by addressing homelessness, housing affordability, criminal justice reform, and more.
Brian Estes, the vice chair of the executive board of the Whatcom County Democrats, is now running for District 4 on the County Council. Estes' top priorities include resolving water quantity issues, creating high-wage jobs in business, technology, agriculture, and other industries, expanding job training programs, and expanding funding for diversion programs.
Estes is running against Brad Kelly and Kathy Kershner. Kelly's platform focuses on "conservative beliefs in lower taxes, limited government, and freedom." Kelly's campaign includes repealing the Cherry Point moratorium on new or expanded projects that would ship unrefined fossil fuels from Cherry Point.
Kershner is a former commissioned officer in the Navy and the current chair of the Whatcom County Republican Party. She is a former member of the Whatcom Council County from 2010 to 2014. Her campaign focuses include preserving agricultural heritage and ensuring water access.
Estes is the clear progressive choice in this race.
There are two good progressives in this race: Jaime Arnett and Natalie McClendon. We recommend Arnett because she has earned more support from local progressive advocates.
Jaime Arnett, a former Habitat for Humanity worker from a longtime commercial fishing family, is running for the new coastal district seat on the Whatcom County Council. She was appointed unanimously to the Blaine City Council in early 2019 after Councilmember Olson resigned last year. Her campaign is centered on environmental protections, including safeguarding clean water for fish and people, restoring salmon populations, honoring tribal treaty-protected rights, and promoting sustainable fishing practices. Arnett is also aiming to tackle affordable housing, homelessness, and a lack of behavioral health resources.
Natalie McClendon is serving her second term as a Whatcom County Planning Commissioner. She has served as chair of the Whatcom Democrats and has volunteered with the Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, and other community organizations. If elected to the county council, McClendon says she will tackle issues of land and water use, affordable housing, and lack of job opportunities.
Also running in this race is conservative Ben Elenbaas, a farmer and an 18-year employee of BP's Cherry Point Refinery and president of the WC Farm Bureau. He also served on the Whatcom County Planning Commission. He is running "to restore a balance to the council." In regards to the moratorium at Cherry Point, Elenbaas has stated that he would "seek to facilitate a regulatory environment in which these companies can continue to improve, upgrade and remain reliable, something our current council has demonstrated they are not willing to do."
Incumbent Carol Frazey is a small business owner and former teacher who is running for re-election to the Whatcom County Council. Her platform is focused on developing youth health programs in nutrition, education, and the environment, increasing access to treatment programs to reduce incarceration rates, and supporting affordable housing. She is seeking to implement countywide broadband service, create a water protection plan for Lake Whatcom, and build a carbon-negative economy in the County.
Frazey is running against David Ramirez, Bill LaFreniere, and Brett Bonner. Ramirez, who has been endorsed by the Whatcom County Republicans, is running to support individuals' rights to use, possess, and dispose of private property as they see fit. LaFreniere is running on a variety of conservative viewpoints from fighting unions to increasing mining and other industries, calling the earth's resources "inexhaustible."
In late May, Bonner confessed to sexually harassing a Whatcom County woman online while "blackout drunk." At the time he was the Whatcom County Republican vice chair. The confession came too late to withdraw from the election, but Bonner has thankfully suspended his campaign.
Carol Frazey is by far the best candidate in this race.
There are multiple progressives running for Bellingham Mayor. We lean toward April Barker because of her strong progressive platform and support from local advocates.
April Barker, a Bellingham City Council member, substitute school teacher, and 20-year resident of Bellingham, is now running for Mayor. She serves as the Chair of the Planning and Community Development Committee and a member of numerous other committees, including Justice, Finance, Public Works, and Accessible Technologies. As a council member, she has prioritized criminal justice reform, combating climate change, improving transportation options, and offering more affordable housing options.
The centerpiece of Barker's campaign is creating more affordable housing. She lays out a detailed plan about how building more housing will strengthen the economy, fight climate change, reduce homelessness, improve transportation, and address historical inequities.
Pinky Vargas is a Bellingham City Council member and 2018 state Senate candidate who works at Puget Sound Energy helping local businesses save energy and reduce costs. While on the council, she has worked to protect Lake Whatcom and balanced the city budget without increasing taxes. Vargas is running to diversify the local economy, reduce homelessness, and make Bellingham a leader on environmental conservation.
Barker and Vargas are facing progressive Seth Fleetwood and Garrett O'Brien. Fleetwood is a lawyer, co-chair of the Whatcom County Housing Affordability Task Force, former member of both the Whatcom County Council and Bellingham City Council, and a 2014 state Senate candidate. He is running to bring collaborative solutions to homelessness and housing affordability and help ensure a just transition to a clean energy future.
Garrett O’Brien is a moderate Planning Commission member who owns a home-building company in Bellingham. His campaign is focused on bringing people together and he offers a number of business-focused solutions to the housing and homelessness crisis.
There are two progressives running in this race: Daniel Hammill and Ashanti Monts-Treviska. We lean toward Hammill because of his progressive track record on the council.
Fundraising and development company owner Daniel Hammill was appointed in 2014 and elected in 2015 to represent Bellingham, Ward 3 on the city council. He has been a longtime advocate for affordable housing and for people experiencing homelessness, including his work co-founding the Bellingham/Whatcom Project Homeless Connect to engage hundreds of volunteers in providing human services to unhoused people. He is very active with the Whatcom Volunteer Center and Food Bank, local schools, and the bicycle community.
We lean toward Hammill because of his impressive work addressing the homelessness crisis facing Bellingham.
Ashanti Monts-Treviska is a community activist running for Bellingham City Council in Ward 3. Monts-Treviska is a current board member of Whatcom Peace and Justice Center (WPJC). As a deaf Black woman of First American descent, she is striving to implement transformative justice and increase community conversation among underserved communities. She supports phasing out single-use plastics and making Bellingham into a stewardship city when it comes to sustainability and the environment. Monts-Treviska also wants to push local colleges to adopt new strategies for their students to graduate debt-free.
Also in this race is Raymond Straka, who does not have a strong campaign presence.
Hollie Huthman is the owner of the Shakedown, a metal bar, and the Racket, a pinball lounge and bar. Huthman is running on a platform of affordable housing, job creation, and criminal justice reform. She is endorsed by current Bellingham City Councilmembers Gene Knutson, Pinky Vargas, and Terry Borneman, in addition to several past council members.
Huthman is running against Von Emeth Ochoa and Dana Briggs. Paraeducator Ochoa, who currently lives without permanent housing, is an outspoken advocate for improving services for the homeless and was the first person selected to live in the tiny home project developed by the nonprofit HomesNOW! Not Later. Briggs is a cook at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Hospital who is running on a platform of combating climate change and protecting the Salish Sea. Brooks also wants to implement housing first policies to reduce homelessness and make Bellingham a sanctuary city.
We believe Huthman's thorough platform, strong campaign presence, and impressive support from progressive advocates makes her the best choice for the at-large seat on Bellingham City Council.
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