The candidates for the vacant Whatcom County Council seat have been narrowed down to: Timothy Ballew, Patricia Dunn, Seth Fleetwood, Natalie McClendon and Alicia Rule, with the addition of Pete Kremen, Carol Frazey and Cliff Langley as write-ins.
The County Councilmembers met Tuesday, Jan. 9 to narrow down the wide pool of candidates to fill the vacant District 1, position B seat for North Bellingham. The seat is currently held by Western political science professor Todd Donovan, who, due to redistricting, was elected to a different district during the November election.
In the brief, 15-minute meeting, councilmembers used ballots to cast votes for their top five preferred candidates from a list of nearly 30 applicants.
The list of applicants was diverse. Among them were a number of Lummi Nation members; local business owners; politicians; a Western student majoring in environmental policy, Ellen Barnes; former Vice President of Enrollment and Student Services Eileen Coughlin; and Eric Bostrom, a self-proclaimed street preacher who is locally known for his signs condemning the LGBTQ+ community.
After the vote, councilmembers were each allowed to add a write-in candidate if they so desired.
The newest councilmember, Tyler Byrd, opted to add former Councilmember Pete Kremen to the list. Kremen agreed to take the position if elected, even though he did not apply as a candidate, Byrd said.
Although Kremen’s politics sometimes differ from his own, Byrd said he thinks Kremen would be a valuable member of the council due to his long-standing career in Washington state politics, including one term previously spent on the council.
“I think it’s incredibly important to put someone with experience in this position,” Byrd said. “It’s almost wrong of us to nominate someone who’s never been on a council before.”
In response, Councilmember Donovan said he thought a fresh face would be the best thing for the council and added Carol Frazey, president of Fit School Inc. in Bellingham, to the list. Cliff Langley, a retired Whatcom County Sheriff's Deputy, was also added to the list.
This list includes residents of Blaine, Lummi Island, Lummi Nation and Bellingham. Nearly all of the candidates have previous experience with local politics, ranging anywhere from a few months to more than 20 years. The final candidate will be voted on by councilmembers at a meeting on Jan. 16.
“It’s just deeply impressive that we’ve had so many people apply,” Councilmember Rud Browne said at the end of the meeting.