Washington state to get out of liquor business; Louws leads for county executive

Published on Wed, Nov 9, 2011 by Jeremy Schwartz

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Whatcom County Council candidate Christina Maginnis, l., speaks with a Whatcom Community College student at an election night party at the Brandywine Kitchen in Bellingham on Tuesday, November 8. As of Wednesday, November 9, Maginnis was about 500 votes behind current county council member Sam Crawford. Photo by Jeremy Schwartz

here for the latest election results via the Lighthouse Blog.

Washington state voters have made their wishes clear: the state government has no business selling liquor.

This was the message voters in the 2011 elections sent by approving initiative 1183 with 59.7 percent of the vote. Those against the privatization of liquor in the state rallied 40.3 percent of the vote, according to initial results from the secretary of state’s website.

In Whatcom County elections, former Lynden mayor Jack Louws was leading current state senator Doug Ericksen by 7 percent in the county executive race. Louws pulled down 53.6 percent of the vote while Ericksen garnered 46.3 percent.

In an email sent out from the Ericksen campaign on November 9, the state senator
congratulated Louws for being selected as the next Whatcom County executive. Ericksen said he looks forward to working with Louws in Ericksen's capacity as a state senator and thanked the community members who supported him during the election.

In the race for the Whatcom County Council seat representing District 3, which includes Blaine and Birch Bay, council member Barbara Brenner appears to have kept her position with 57.3 percent of the vote to Blaine City Council member Alan Black’s 42.8 percent. Black said it has been a pleasure to run against Brenner and get to know so many people along the way.

“I’ve been humbled by the amount of community support I’ve received,” Black said.

Retiring county executive Pete Kremen was leading by 3 percent of the vote in his race against sitting county council member Tony Larson; Kremen with 51.5 percent and Larson with 48.5 percent. County council member Sam Crawford was narrowly leading in his race against Christina Maginnis. Crawford garnered 50.7 percent of the vote while Maginnis received 49.3 percent.

In an interview with radio station KGMI in Bellingham, Crawford said he has been in close county council races before and came out on top.

When county council member Ken Mann challenged Crawford in a previous election, Crawford was losing by 800 votes after the first round of results was released. Crawford went on to win that race.

In local election news, the Northwest Park and Recreation District #2 levy was failing with 54.6 percent of the vote. Levies need at least 60 percent of the vote to pass.

The levy would have cost 10 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation, or $20 annually on a $200,000 home, and raised $350,000 over the next six years. In the 2010 general election, the same park and recreation levy failed by 0.5 percent, or just a few hundred votes.

Current Blaine planning commission chair Ken Oplinger will take over from city council member John Liebert in an uncontested race while Blaine resident Clark Cotner will replace Black in city council ward three, position five. City council member Dennis Olason will serve another term.

In other countywide races, Whatcom County sheriff Bill Elfo handily defeated sheriff’s deputy Steve Harris with 75.3 percent of the vote to Harris’ 24.7 percent.

Current county treasurer Steve Oliver will keep his position after defeating challenger Brian Smith by 33 percent of the vote while chief deputy county auditor Debbie Adelstein defeated J. Lynn Walker in the county auditor race, with 61.8 percent of the vote to Walker’s 38.2 percent.

Port of Bellingham commissioner Jim Jorgensen, a Blaine resident, will keep his commissioner position after defeating Michael Murphy with 71.6 percent of the vote to Murphy’s 28.4 percent.

In statewide initiative results, voters were rejecting initiative 1125 by a narrow margin; 50.9 percent voting no and 49 percent voting yes. I-1125 would have limited the ways in which the state legislature could spend tollway revenue.

Statewide voters soundly approved initiative 1163, which will reinstate background checks, training and other requirements for long-term caretakers of elderly and disabled people. About 66.8 percent of state voters approved the measure while 33.2 percent rejected it.

County voters showed strong support for a county charter amendment that will create a salary commission tasked with setting the salaries of a number of the county’s elected positions. Approximately 61 percent of county voters approved the amendment while 38.9 percent of voters rejected it.

According to the Whatcom County auditor, 38,237 county votes have been counted so far; that’s 32.6 percent of the county’s 117,124 registered voters. After all the votes are counted, retiring auditor Shirley Forslof will certify the general election results on November 29.

For a full listing of all state and countywide election and measure results, visit