By Stefanie Donahue
Months in advance of the May 19 primary election filing deadline, Whatcom County councilmembers Satpal Sidhu and Rud Browne announced their intention to bid for reelection –this time, each are running in a brand new district.
As a result of a measure passed in 2015, Whatcom County expanded its election districts from three to five and restructured representation to one councilmember per district with two at-large positions. Finalized by a four-person committee in April 2016, the new map draws district borders around south Bellingham, north Bellingham, unincorporated areas in the foothills, farmland north of Bellingham and coastal areas along the Georgia Strait.
Blaine, Birch Bay and Point Roberts fall under the coastal district and will no longer be represented by Barbara Brenner and Carl Weimer after their terms expire – both councilmembers reside in the new farmland district.
According to Whatcom County Council secretary Kristi Felbinger, Weimer’s term expires in January 2018 and Brenner’s term expires in January 2020. Currently no sitting councilmembers reside in the new coastal district, she said.
“As a 22-year resident of the new district 1 [south Bellingham], I am happy to be redistricted alongside so many who share my values, environmental commitment and desire for Whatcom County to generate more jobs for our citizens,” said Browne, a sitting at-large councilmember. “I’m running from the area which supported me in large numbers in my last election, which makes it
even more rewarding.”
Sidhu shared a similar sentiment in his announcement to run for a position in foothills district 3, which encompasses unincorporated rural areas on the east side of the county. Sidhu currently serves district 2, which on the old district map included areas northeast of Bellingham.
“I have lived in the foothills area for 30 years and have worked with farmers and rural residents all these years,” he said, adding, “I look forward to [meeting] and [listening] to residents of the foothills district and learn how county can meet their needs.”
Council seats in south Bellingham district 1, north Bellingham district 2, foothills district 3 and one at-large position will be up for election this year, said Whatcom County auditor Debbie Adelstein.