By Ian Ferguson
Three candidates hoping to replace former Whatcom County Council member Sam Crawford made their case to sitting council members who will be making an appointment shortly. Crawford resigned his seat on council effective March 1 for work-related reasons, and the remaining council members will decide who gets to replace him for the remainder of his term, which ends in November. The three candidates who applied for his vacant seat presented statements to the council at its March 3 regular meeting.
Crawford was a conservative voice representing district 2 on the council for more than 15 years until his January resignation announcement. Jim Cozad, Kathy Kershner and Satpal Sidhu are vying to be his replacement for the remainder of his term.
Kershner served on the Whatcom County Council for four years and was council chair for two years. Sidhu is a business owner and engineer by training who recently ran for the 42nd district state representative position. Although he lost to Republican Luanne Van Werven, Sidhu fared better than most Democrats in the election, garnering 44.3 percent of the vote. Cozad was a teacher and coach at Sehome High School, and has long been active in the Opportunity Council and Interfaith Coalition, primarily working to help homeless and disadvantaged families in Whatcom County.
“We need to create better pathways to prosperity for all,” Cozad said, citing the lack of affordable housing, living wage jobs and mental healthcare access in Whatcom County, as well as problems with domestic violence, drug and alcohol abuse and an overloaded criminal justice system.
“I have the leadership skills and ability to work collaboratively,” he said.
Kershner could not attend the meeting because of a previously scheduled engagement, but Jessica Elenbaas read Kershner’s statement to the council.
“Kathy asks that you consider her recent experience as an elected council member, and the overwhelming support she enjoys in district 2. You know she served with integrity, and made decisions she believed would benefit the county, even knowing that they wouldn’t benefit her,” Elenbaas said. “She understands the issues the county is working on, and can hit the ground running.”
Sidhu said he would bring a balanced, non-partisan approach to government, and said the council would benefit from his ability to plan for the long term.
“As a council member, I would like to see healthy debate and careful listening to the diverse views on issues before making any decisions,” he said. “I’m a long-term thinker, and balance my decisions on their impact over the next five, 10 or 20 years.”
Sidhu also highlighted his ties to the agricultural community in district 2, and the fact that with 30 years of business experience, he would match Crawford’s strong voice for business.
Council chair Carl Weimer thanked the candidates for applying, and said the council would most likely make its decision at their next meeting on Tuesday, March 17.
Kremen will not seek second term
County councilmember Pete Kremen has announced he will not seek reelection.
Kremen, 63, said he is stepping down so he can spend more time with his wife, Fidela, who recently retired.
Kremen was elected to county council in 2011. He held the position B seat in council district 1, which includes Bellingham and much of south Whatcom County.
Kremen has spent more than 30 years in public office. He was first elected as state representative for the 42nd legislative district in 1984, where he served six terms.
In 1995, he was elected county executive, a position he held for 16 years. Before government, he was a broadcast journalist and the news and public affairs director for KBFW radio in Bellingham.
“This was not an easy decision for me,” he said. “I’m so blessed to have had the opportunity and honor of serving people in our community at both the state and local levels for most of my adult life.”