Meet the candidates for charter review commission

The following candidates are running for Whatcom County Charter Review Commission in District 3, which includes Blaine, Birch Bay, Lummi Island and Ferndale. Commissioners are responsible for evaluating the county charter.

In addition to these nine candidates, Linda Cain, Chris Johnson and Wes Kentch are also running.


Ralph BlackRalph-Black-photo2

As a lifelong resident and business owner in Whatcom County, I have had opportunity to serve the community in various ways. I’m a board member of the
WWU Foundation, I was selected to the affordable housing task force, I was chairman of the citizens group for EMS, I am the director of operations for the Washington wing of the Civil Air Patrol and a volunteer search and rescue pilot.

My business requires interactions with many county and state agencies such as department of ecology, planning departments, parks and schools. I understand how all agencies function together to make Whatcom County a great place to live and work.

The Whatcom County Charter Review Commission is a citizens group that every 10 years reviews our county charter to make any recommendations that will make our local government function better. It is not a policy group. My experience working with both public and private groups of people will help me to provide the citizens of Whatcom County with solid results. I look forward to the opportunity to represent you on the charter review commission.


Nick EvansNick-Evans-Voter-Pamphlet-Photo

I would be honored to have your vote for the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission. I’m the fourth generation of my family to call Whatcom County home, and I think our little corner of the world is the most beautiful place on the planet. If elected, I intend to do everything in my power to protect our county for my kids and yours.

Our charter’s preamble states, “The power and duty to govern and protect this region is inherent in its people,” and calls for a county government that “advances justice, inspires confidence, and fosters responsibility.” If elected, I plan to use these powerful statements as a basis for any and all decisions I make when considering charter amendments to recommend to the voters.

I intend to weigh public input before making an ultimate decision on any proposed charter amendment, as I believe the purpose of our charter is to both reflect and protect the values of our great county. When you cast your ballot on November 4, please consider voting for Nick Evans in District 3 so we can have reasonable leadership on the charter review commission.


Yvonne GoldsmithYvonne-Goldsmith-candidate-photo

I am seeking to serve once again on the 2015 charter review commission. I have served on the previous two charter review committees and would like to represent Whatcom County in the third district. Each commissioner is elected to serve the citizens and to listen, consider and advance for the people’s concerns to the entire community in the form of an initiative for
their vote.

I am a conservative, a great listener, a researcher and very capable of being fair. It is my goal to see the commission work together to offer a charter that will represent our entire community. I would like to have the commission hold meetings in all the communities to hear from its constituents.


John Lesow

Any changes to our home rule charter should make it better, not just different.John-Lesow

I support countywide voting, which has been the rule for 33 of the past 36 years. I want to be able to vote for all of the councilmembers who make decisions about my economic future and quality of life, not just a third of them.

Our three districts are roughly equal in size and population. I firmly believe that the constructive engagement of all seven county councilmembers is the most democratic and effective way to address the challenges we face in Whatcom County.

Presently, the county council has the power to review land use decisions, including the coal terminal at Cherry Point. I support maintaining this important and fundamental right of representation through our elected councilmembers. Pacific International Terminals and Phillips 66 are contributing considerable sums to pro-coal PACs that would benefit from our council’s right of review being taken away. I will oppose any such action as your charter commissioner. My neighbors have had to deal with the negative effects of coal dust from Canada for 20 years. As a Point Roberts resident, I know the effects on people and property from coal export facilities.


Richard MayRichard-May-recent-headshot

Our home rule charter can hold a delicate balance about infringement, whether it’s outside authority infringing on a property owner, or that property owner infringing on his community and neighbor’s health, safety and property values. I am committed to ensuring that no player holds any undue advantage in this fragile partnership. If the charter ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and if it’s broke, hear every possible argument before making
any adjustment.

In my work, play and public service all around the county, I learn the concerns of our rural, city, business, agriculture and diverse population. I currently serve on the Blaine planning commission, county appeals board, and Communities In Schools of Whatcom County dropout prevention organization. I organized and won public support for bipartisan local issues including library funding and traffic safety, and served as president of Everson Nooksack Chamber of Commerce while owning businesses
with 20 employees.

Whatcom County residents care about jobs, natural resources, transportation, culture and livability. I would be very responsive and put in the extra hours to get this charter review done just right. Please visit my site at


John MunsonJohn-Munson-20140710_094343

I was born and have spent my whole life living and working in Whatcom County. I am running for a position on the charter review commission because I feel we should have as wide a spectrum of people as possible participating in the review process.

I am a retired longshoreman who worked 40 years on the waterfront in Bellingham and other Puget Sound ports. I was active in my union and through the years negotiated contracts for union members. I have been politically active, participating in the initiative campaign to raise the minimum wage. I also participated in forums talking to people about the advantages of establishing a single-payer healthcare program. I am a past member of Bellingham Food Bank board and a member of the Ferndale Food Bank board.

The population of the county has increased from 70,000 in 1960 to 206,000 currently. The needs of the county change as the population increases. We need people on the review commission who are grounded in reality and can represent and articulate the concerns of the people in their district. It would be an honor to represent and serve the people of the district. Contact me at, 360/758-7096 or 360/224-3957.


Jon Mutchler

I am asking for your vote to serve on your charter review commission, representing the third district. Jon-Mutchler-Charter3a

I would bring to the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission the experience of a man who has lived and worked in three of the communities of this district: Blaine/Birch Bay, Ferndale
and Bellingham.

I would bring the experiences of a pastor who has served a community church for 26 years; a musician who has instructed hundreds of Whatcom County youth and a husband and father with seven children and a granddaughter who reside in Whatcom County and remind me to keep the
long-term view.

I would bring the experience of a consensus-building and seasoned Ferndale City Council member who understands the complexity of the challenges facing us, but also the rich resources we have here to confront those challenges – first and foremost the great people of Whatcom County along with the rich natural environment we enjoy.

I would bring an uncompromising commitment to conserve and promote the best possible future for this unique and special place called Whatcom County – a place of great economic, cultural, educational and natural resources.

And I would bring to the commission my enthusiastic year-round love of our outdoors, having participated in five Ski to Sea races, two Bellingham Bay Marathons, the Tour de Whatcom, and countless hikes, runs, bike rides, skis and campouts in Whatcom County.

Thank you for reading, and I invite you to visit my website,


Eileen SobjackEileen-Sobjack-IMG_8867c

I will uphold the principles of the nine articles of the charter. For example, Article 5 of the charter gives citizens a voice through petition with initiative or referendum, and I will protect it.

If elected to the charter review commission, my priority will be to listen carefully to your concerns and speak up for you during the review process.

I bring many years of leadership experience, serving on boards at the local and national level. My experience also includes working with committees on bylaws. I will carefully assess any proposed changes to the current charter.

I have deep roots in Whatcom County. My children and grandchildren reside here. We have reaped the benefits of this unique, diverse county, so I want to contribute my part by serving on the charter review commission.

My leadership experience includes: elected executive officer for a national board, longtime volunteer, former teacher and past owner of a commercial fishing business. I will work hard to represent you and I appreciate your vote for Eileen Sobjack. Contact me at


Karl Uppiano

Whatcom County has a charter, which, like the Constitution of the United States, is the official specification for the structure and operation of Whatcom County government.

The charter is reviewed every 10 years by a commission elected by the citizens of Whatcom County. I wish to serve on that commission.

I have been a resident of Whatcom County since 1986, and I have raised four beautiful children here. I wish for them to have the same opportunity to live in this wonderful area that I have. I do not want them to have to leave the area in order to find family-wage jobs.

I believe in the following principles:

Individual rights – government derives its authority from you and me, and not the reverse. The individual is the world’s smallest minority, and his rights need the most protection.

Equal representation and equal justice for all – Whatcom County has a very diverse culture. Elections and representation must reflect the needs and preferences of the people living in their respective districts.

Government neutrality – the Whatcom County Charter is no place for an agenda! Government should be neutral, protecting every citizen’s rights equally.

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