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Suzanna Leung

The name Eric Bostrom may be extremely familiar to students who have attended school on Western’s campus in past years. He has spent many school days in Red Square with Donald Trump signs and hateful signs directed towards LGBTQ+ individuals.

Bostrom has also been active with his signs in downtown Bellingham.

Now Bostrom is running for the Bellingham City Council's at-large seat.

The Whatcom County Republican Party has openly endorsed Bostrom, supposedly to encourage diverse opinions within the council race. Bostrom is the only candidate the party has endorsed for this year’s Bellingham City Council primary, and it donated $300 to support Bostrom’s campaign.

The Bellingham Racial Justice Coalition has expressed concerns over Bostrom’s campaign for City Council, stating the Republican Party’s support of Bostrom is just another way to suppress and silence marginalized voices in the community.

These concerns are further amplified by statements Bostrom has made concerning race, an example being a June 26 Facebook post in which Bostrom compared his struggles as a conservative campaigning in Bellingham to a black man running for office in the South in the 1960s.

“Except B’ham fascists (my detractors) worse than racists,” Bostrom wrote at the end of his post.

In another post on Facebook from February, Bostrom equated Muslim men to rapists.

These statements are outrageous and are not befitting of a City Council candidate. This should not be condoned by any Whatcom County political group.

Western’s student body has witnessed Bostrom’s hateful comments firsthand, and we know the amount of disrespect Bostrom has for marginalized communities, along with Bellingham’s student population. Not only did he frequently spread hateful rhetoric in the middle of Red Square, he would also record students using a GoPro attached to his chest so he could capture their reactions on camera.

Bostrom has also made a point of bringing his hateful messages to the worship services of other congregations that he believes aren't religious enough, targeting churches allowing LGBTQ+ members to attend services.

At a February City Council meeting, Bostrom held a sign that said, “Not legal, not good,” and claimed Trump supporters were a persecuted minority.

“It’s the Statue of Liberty not the statue of illegal immigration, Muslim terrorism or entitlements,” Bostrom wrote in a Facebook post in January. “We are a nation of laws, borders and culture. If you don’t like that, stay away or get out.”

Still, knowing all of this, the Whatcom County Republican Party continues to support Bostrom’s campaign.

Even though we live in a time where  our president regularly spouts hateful rhetoric, we have a duty to hold our local governments to a higher standard.

Bostrom's speech is far beyond the bounds of civil discourse, and since the Whatcom County Republican Party refuses to recognize that, it is the duty of the people of Bellingham to stand against it.

Bostrom claims he will separate his past from his duty as a councilmember if he wins the election. His mission statement now includes offering more diverse representation for the people of Bellingham and looks to tackle the homelessness crisis, attractive statements to voters unaware of Bostrom’s previous political stances.

Regardless of what Bostrom masks his campaign to be, Bostrom has always represented hate in Bellingham.

If the Whatcom County Republican Party really wants to be treated as a valid party, it should endorse candidates who actually aim to better the community and represent Bellingham residents instead of choosing a candidate who routinely spouts hate speech and aims to oppress marginalized members of the community.

After racist comments and condemning Bellingham's LGBTQ+ community, it is clear Bostrom does not represent Bellingham.

Bostrom goes out of his way to offend and he enjoys provoking those with different political views than his own because he enjoys the attention and reactions that he receives. His character is outrageous and immature. It would be an insult not only for Bellingham residents, but for Bellingham City Council, to have him in a seat.

As voters and Bellingham residents, it is extremely important we vote in this election. We have the responsibility to not elect officials who disrespect and disregard marginalized communities. Our elected officials need to account for the Bellingham voices who are marginalized and feel unrepresented by the facets of their government.

Any Bellingham resident who has not registered to vote in Washington by July 3 may still do so at the county Auditor’s Office until July 24. Voting for the primaries begins Aug. 1, and the last day to register for the general election is Oct. 30. Ballots for the general election will be due on Nov. 7.

Your vote matters, especially when facing a candidate who spouts bigoted, racist and ignorant remarks at marginalized communities and clearly does not want to properly represent all of the people of Bellingham.

If the Whatcom County Republican Party truly wanted to promote diversity within government, it would look elsewhere for candidates to endorse.

For more election information read Voter Registration Deadline is July 3 for Whatcom County Primary Elections at westernfrontonline.com.

Frontline pieces are the opinions of the Western Front Editorial Board.

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