By Stefanie Donahue
Three candidates are competing for the same seat on Blaine City Council in a race that will be narrowed down in the Tuesday, August 1 primary election.
There are four positions up for election on Blaine City Council this year: wards one, two and three and the at-large seat. The council is made up of seven non-partisan members who serve four-year terms. Three wards make up the city of Blaine and each is represented by two councilmembers; the seventh member serves at-large.
In May, both incumbent councilmembers and new faces to public office put their names forward for the positions. Only the at-large position is featured in the primary election as there are more than two individuals filed to run for the position. The top two candidates who finish in the primary will appear on the November 7 general election ballot.
Ballots were mailed to all registered voters on July 12 and must be returned by Tuesday, August 1. Mail-in ballots require a 49-cent postage stamp and must be postmarked by election day. Drop boxes close at 8 p.m. on election day and are located at the Blaine Library, 610 3rd Street and North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, 4581 Birch Bay-Lynden Road.
Leading up to election day, The Northern Light spoke with all three candidates running for the at-large position on the Blaine City Council. Here’s what they had to say:
Harry Robinson has called Blaine home for a quarter of a century.
He began offering his time to the city in the late 1990s by filling a seat on the Blaine Planning Commission. He served the commission for 10 years and eventually landed a spot on the Blaine City Council. Robinson has filled a seat on the council for the last 10 years and has acted as the city’s mayor for the past six years.
In the working realm, Robinson racked up 40 years of experience as a marketing executive for insurance companies in Canada and the U.S. and is a former president of the Vancouver-based Life Underwriters Association. He also helped found the PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center Foundation.
Looking ahead, Robinson said he is hopeful about Blaine’s future, but asserts that an experienced city council is key to achieving success. “The next four years will be very challenging for Blaine and it will be important to have councilmembers who have the experience and know-how in dealing with various issues that arise,” he said.
Robinson said revitalizing Blaine’s economy is his top priority and said he’s committed to making it a major focus over the next four years if he is re-elected.
“Without a growing and thriving economy, Blaine will have difficulty maintaining the services it currently provides,” he said. “We need to support our current businesses and explore every opportunity to attract new businesses to Blaine, particularly those that provide good paying jobs.”
Hull said he’s had a deep love for Blaine ever since he moved to town in the 1950s.
After graduating from Blaine High School, Hull joined the U.S. Marine Corps and was discharged as a sergeant. He eventually pursued an education at Skagit Valley College, the University of Virginia and Centralia College. He majored in political science with a focus on public administration, state and local government at Western Washington University and in 2004 earned the title of distinguished alumnus.
Hull lists 60 years of involvement in leadership roles with a variety of worker’s unions, most notably the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. He spent his career as an identification superintendent with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office and as a job service specialist with the Washington state Employment Security Department.
He’s been a Democratic precinct committee officer in Blaine and Bellingham and was also commissioner at the Northwest Park and Recreation District 2, director at the Blaine school district and president of the Blaine Booster Club. In 1984, Hull was named Blaine Man of the Year.
While public office may be a change of pace for Hull, he feels like he’s just what the city needs.
“I see the city government not doing the job that they’re supposed to be doing,” he said. “This gives me a chance to bring up some of the changes that I want to see in Blaine.”
Among those is access, he said. Residents and visitors alike are without proper physical access to Blaine City Hall and other public facilities, such as parks, he said. Hull is also a strong proponent of the I-5/exit 274 interchange project, which was vetoed from the state budget this year. The project is vital to improving Blaine’s economy, he said.
Rule grew up in Laurel, an unincorporated community in Whatcom County, and graduated from Meridian High School in 1994. Three years ago she moved to Blaine to raise her three kids.
Rule majored in psychology and American ethnic studies at the University of Washington and received her master’s in social work with honors from San Diego State University. She’s a licensed clinical social worker and also has experience operating a small event planning business in multiple cities.
Rule has worn many hats in the years she’s spent serving communities in and outside of Whatcom County as a volunteer. Before moving to Blaine, Rule was a community organizer in Lafayette, Colorado. During that time, she gained support from about 1,400 parents, elected officials and business owners to help revitalize the city’s downtown.
“When I moved there, it was a town very much like Blaine,” Rule said. “I established myself as a community organizer, worked with local businesses, elected officials and community leaders to successfully realize the downtown. Just a few short years later and that area is repeatedly named in top 10 lists of best small towns in the entire country by many publications.”
If elected, Rule aims to boost community engagement, increase revenue and improve amenities in Blaine, particularly along the waterfront, to attract tourism and investment. She plans to encourage more residents to buy local and to get involved.
“I want to hear from all of Blaine,” she said. “We have a diverse population here. All of us live here together.”