Ten Blaine residents are running for four seats in a competitive Blaine City Council primary election. Over the past few weeks, The Northern Light has been profiling candidates. Here are the remaining six candidates.
John “Calvin” Armerding is running for the Blaine City Council Ward 1 Position 2 seat. If elected, he says he’d like to focus on fiscal responsibility, controlled development and long-term planning.
Armerding graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in aerospace engineering and served as a nuclear engineer in the U.S. Navy before starting his career as a high school math teacher, currently instructing at Meridian High School. He earned his teaching certification from a Washington state post-baccalaureate teaching program in 2004.
Armerding said he decided to run for council after serving about six years on the city of Blaine’s planning commission, with the past three years as chair.
Armerding said, if elected, he’d like to focus on financial responsibility for the city. He’d also like to focus on transportation and development, including helping the city plan ahead for increased traffic on the H Street hill as more development occurs in east Blaine.
“I think we’ve done a good job – when we’ve found something we thought was odd in the code, we’ve been proactive about, ‘Let’s explore this and see if we should put forward a proposal for council,’” Armerding said.
As planning commission chair, Armerding said he has streamlined work and ran efficient meetings.
“I’m used to getting things done and I’m educated enough that I can look at problems and see different ways to approach them,” he said.
Teaching has also taught Armerding to work with people of different backgrounds, he said.
Incumbent Eric Davidson is running for the Ward 3 Position 6 seat. Davidson said his top priorities include fiscal responsibility as the city focuses on economic development. This means bringing new businesses to Blaine while easing taxpayer burden, he said.
“The decisions we make today will cost us time and energy in the future,” he said.
Davidson has a degree in finance and works as a registered mental health nurse in
First elected to council four years ago, Davidson said he wanted to run again to continue the momentum council has made recently.
“There’s a lot of good work already being done but I want to see that work through and become a greater reality,” he said
Developing the airport property, taking down derelict buildings downtown and working to keep a good tax base are a few of the things Davidson is proud he has helped with on council over the past few years. He was also proud of city council, the city manager and city staff working together to streamline the budget during the pandemic, which saved the city from laying off employees.
Davidson said he has also been involved in neighborhood watch in the numbered and lettered streets and was a founding chairman of the public works advisory committee. He is currently on the Whatcom Transportation Authority board and Blaine Tourism Advisory Committee. Davidson said he is looking hard at long-term investments in tourism that could draw people to Blaine daily, instead of only for one-time events.
Barbara Sturdivant is running for the Ward 3 Position 6 seat on Blaine City Council with the platform of helping local businesses and tourism.
“I want to get involved and do something,” she said. “Our country is pretty divided right now and I don’t know what to do at the federal level. What I can do is grassroots and help the city become more successful, grow and help businesses.”
Sturdivant earned a bachelor’s degree in history from Southern Methodist University, a nursing degree from Texas Woman’s University and a master’s degree in business from Pepperdine University in California.
She worked at Amgen, a biotechnology company, for 14 years and is now retired in Semiahmoo, where she is secretary of the Semiahmoo Golf Course members advisory board, a two-year term that started in January. Sturdivant has also worked with the Boundary Ridge Homeowners Association; volunteered with the We Will Whatcom, a grassroots movement advocating to open businesses during the pandemic; ushered at Christ the King Community Church; and started a group to pick up takeout at Great Blue Heron Grill and bring it to people who didn’t want to leave their homes during Covid-19.
“I have a great deal of passion about our country and that’s developed about Blaine,” she said.
Sturdivant said she has 14 grandchildren who want to do things when they visit, but there’s so much like the outdoor amphitheater in Blaine Marine Park that’s not being utilized enough for entertainment. Sturdivant also supports first responders creating a safe community and fiscal responsibility, she said.
Mike Hill is running for Blaine City Council’s at-large seat, with his top priorities being safety, cleaning up the town and strategic development.
Hill attended Blaine schools growing up and graduated from Lynden High School. Hill has had a variety of jobs in the area, from potline operator at Alcoa Intalco Works to helping run his father’s bar. Owner of Hill’s Chevron on Peace Portal Drive since 1992, Hill built the building for the Starbucks store that opened in 2018. Hill said he’s helped The Rustic Fork, Edaleen Dairy and Bordertown Mexican Grill with their businesses in Blaine.
“My biggest thing is I’m looking for people not just out to make money. I’m looking for people who have passion for what they’re doing,” Hill said. “The money will come. You got to give them service and you got to say thank you.”
Hill said his drive to create Blaine into a destination town is one of the main reasons he’s running for city council. Hill said he sees Blaine as the perfect storm – between two major cities on I-5 and easy access for the 3 million people living in lower mainland B.C.
“If we’re going to be a special town, we have to have special places,” he said.
Hill said he wants to keep Blaine’s charm of being a fishing village while planning for long-term development for the next century.
Hill also said he doesn’t want his city council campaign to be political and is focused on better management of the city, including lawn care.
Rhyan Lopez is running for the Ward 2 Position 4 seat on Blaine City Council. Lopez said he wanted to run for council to improve business development and help more families needing assistance.
“We want to see Blaine beautiful, which it is, but there’s so much more that could happen,” Lopez said. “I want it to be a destination like Leavenworth. It’s not just a place you stop to pick up your cheese and eggs.”
Lopez grew up in Point Roberts and attended Blaine schools before earning his bachelor’s degree in 2008 from Washington State University. After college he moved to Blaine where he married his wife, also from the area, and is now raising two young children.
For nearly a decade, Lopez has worked as director of production and logistics for The Comphy Company, a linen manufacturer in Ferndale. He also volunteers with Community Assistance Program (CAP), where he runs the annual Thanksgiving baskets program. Lopez said he wants to prioritize helping families in Blaine who need assistance because he’s seen how much programs like CAP are needed.
Lopez said he decided to run for council because he was hearing community members’ frustrations on things such as obtaining occupation permits to struggles opening new businesses. He said he wants to find inefficiencies in local government to make the overall running of the city easier.
Lopez’s other priorities include bringing more doctors and medical facilities to Blaine and catalyzing east Blaine development.
Steven Tojek is running for the Ward 2 Position 4 seat on Blaine City Council. Tojek did not respond to interview requests.
Tojek was employed as a border patrol agent as recently as 2019, when he ran for city council.
According to a 2019 article in The Northern Light, Tojek is from Buffalo, New York and has experience volunteering with People United for Sustainable Housing, a neighborhood planning and community development organization there.