Airportinitiative garners decisive victory

Published on Thu, Nov 10, 2005 by ara Nelson

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Airport initiative garners decisive victory

By Tara Nelson

As of 9:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 8, the Whatcom County auditor’s office had counted 25,172 ballots but the results are not official until November 29, Whatcom County auditor Shirley Forslof said.

And, with an expected 60 percent voter turnout, Forslof said she anticipates an additional 35,000 ballots to be counted within that time.
Most of the ballots will be counted by next week, she added.
Whatcom County Council

Whatcom County Council incumbents are leading slightly in unofficial election results released Tuesday. Two county council positions, however, are unusually tight.

Incumbents Laurie Caskey-Schreiber and Seth Fleetwood are both leading the race for their current seats on the council.

Caskey-Schreiber had a solid lead over her opponent Craig Mayberry with 12,168 votes (48%) while Mayberry received 10,476 votes (42%). Caskey-Schreiber is a fourth-generation resident of Lynden and supported efforts to protect Lake Whatcom and rural agricultural land. Mayberry is an economics teacher at Whatcom Community College and a fiscal conservative.

The race between Carl Weimer and Mike Kent, both candidates for the council’s district three, position A, was also close. Weimer received 11,294 votes (45%) while Kent received 10,847 votes (43%). Weimer, the founder of Bellingham’s ReStore and a member of the Pipeline Safety Commission, said on Wednesday that he was keeping his fingers crossed. Kent is a realtor who lives in Blaine and is active with the American Realtors’ Association.

The closest race, however, was between Fleetwood, an environmental attorney who helped implement green standards for Whatcom County municipal buildings, and Gary Lysne, a retired Seattle police officer. Fleetwood led the race for the council’s at-large position by a narrow margin of 27 votes. Fleetwood received 11,223 votes (45%) while Lysne received 10,896 (43%).

Blaine city council, airport

In Blaine, early results show that city council candidate Jason Overstreet, running for the council’s third ward, position five, is leading by a margin of 26 votes.

Overstreet received 320 votes (44%), compared with incumbent Bob Brunkow, who recieved 294 votes (41%).

Also, council candidate Charles Hawkins is leading the election for the council’s at-large position with 318 votes (44%), compared to opponent Jason Burke, who received 265 votes (37%).

Council candidates Bruce Wolf, Mike Myers and Bonnie Onyon were running unopposed.

Wolf received 474 votes of the total 714 votes from Blaine, while Myers and Onyon received 483 and 491, respectively.

Meanwhile, a majority of Blaine voters approved an advisory measure put forth by the Blaine city council that would ask the council to study the economic feasibility of alternatives to the Blaine municipal airport.
Preliminary results show the initiative earned 53 percent of the votes in favor of studying alternative uses while 41 percent disapproved.

Supporters of the initiative are currently leading by a total of 89 votes.
Dennis Hill, a realtor and proponent of the original initiative to abolish the airport, said while he thinks the results are 10 to 15 percent less what they should be, he was optimistic.

“Overall, a win’s a win,” he said. “It’s been tried three times and I think with the attorneys and the background of people from a cross section of the community, we did a good job. But I think the fight’s just begun.”

Doug Fenton, chairman of Blaine Airport Commission, a commission appointed by the city council, however, said he was holding out for final election results.

“I don’t think anything about it until I’ve seen the final results,” he said. “The advisory question is merely asking the council to do what they were already going to do, which study the feasibility of closing it. It certainly doesn’t mean the airport’s going to close.”

Port of Bellingham
Incumbent Scott Walker is leading the race for Port of Bellingham commissioner district one, with 13,228 votes (52 %). His opponent, Tip Johnson, is trailing behind with 8,117 votes (32 %).

Blaine School District
All three candidates for Blaine School District’s board of directors were running unopposed this year. District one candidate Red Goodwin received 1,450 votes, while candidates for districts three and five, Pebble Griffin and Mike Dodd, received 1,451 and 1,498 votes, respectively.

Birch Bay Water and Sewer District
Incumbent Don Montfort is leading the race for Birch Bay Water and Sewer District Commissioner eight with 471 votes (44 %). His opponent, Stephen Nelson, received 347 votes (33 %).

Smoking ban passes; gas tax and malpractice initiatives fail by margin
State initiative 901, which would ban smoking in public places is passing overwhelmingly in Whatcom County and in Washington state.
The initiative amends the state’s Clean Indoor Air Act and prohibits smoking in public places as well as within 25 feet of an entrance to a public place.

According to early election results posted on the Washington Secretary of State’s web site, 62 percent of Washington voters favored the ban while 37 percent were opposed.

Meanwhile, initiative 912, which would repeal the state’s recently imposed 5-cent gas tax increase is failing by a narrow margin.
Approximately 47 percent of voters supported the tax rollback while 52 percent opposed it. If the initiative passes, revenue from the anticipated increases will not be available for state-funded transportation projects. This would include scheduled improvements to Drayton Harbor Road, as called for in the county’s six-year road plan.
Initiative 330, sponsored by several insurance companies and the Washington State Medical Association, which seeks to cap the amount of non-economic, or punitive damages a person can claim in a medical malpractice lawsuit, is also failing. Whatcom County voters approved the initiative 49 to 47 percent, but state figures indicate the initiative is failing by about 90,000 votes.

A counter measure supported by the Association of Trial Lawyers that would require public notices for insurance rate increases is also falling behind. Whatcom County voters opposed initiative 336, 54 to 41 percent while statewide voters rejected it 58 to 41 percent.

EMS, district-only voting passes
Whatcom County voters approved two countywide initiatives that would authorize a sales tax to fund countywide emergency medical services and restrict Whatcom County voters’ ability to vote for county council candidates.

The EMS levy allows Whatcom county to use a one-tenth of one percent (0.1 %) sales tax, or 10 cents for every $100, to pay for countywide emergency medical services. It also allows one-third of the revenue to be used for criminal justice purposes such as building new jails.

Whatcom County charter amendment 1 would restrict Whatcom County residents from voting for county council members in districts other than their own. Proponents of the initiative, such as Charlie Crabtree a commissioner of the Whatcom County Charter Review Commission, District 3, said the current system prevents certain candidates from winning in the primaries. Crabtree says he thinks the initiative will bring elected officials closer to the constituents they represent.

Opponents, however, say the measure limits citizen’s ability to participate in the democratic process since many of the council’s decisions affect the entire county.