Ryzex Rud Browne Whatcom

Meet our 2017 Endorsed Candidates

With the Primary Election upon us soon, here’s an overview of our Endorsed Candidates for both the Primary Election and General Election Ballot.

Primary Election
Election Date: August 1, 2017
Ballots Mail: July 12, 2017

Primary Election Endorsed Candidates

On the Primary Ballot:

County Council District 2:
Todd Donovan

Todd grew up in San Jose, California with his three siblings. He worked his way through school in Silicon Valley delivering newspapers and working in the restaurant industry. In college, Todd studied economics and government while earning his tuition by working in restaurants, in a chemical plant, as a bike messenger, an RA in his dorm, and picking fruit. Todd and his partner, Deb, moved to Bellingham in 1991 when Todd started his career in teaching and research at Western Washington University, Whatcom County's second-largest employer. They built a family here with their two incredible teenagers and an adopted spotted dog, Dot. Todd’s parents taught him to value public service to his community. He has volunteered to serve various boards and commissions at every level of government, from his neighborhood board to the Whatcom County Council. Todd has earned a number of awards for his work at Western, while holding leadership roles in his profession. Due to the 2016 County Council redistricting, his district is up for election this year.

Todd believes that keeping Whatcom County a desirable place to live requires that we protect our environment. We need more action to protect drinking water in Lake Whatcom. Todd wants to push to finally clean up Lake Whatcom. Todd’s promoting programs that work with homeowners to restore native vegetation to improve water quality. Todd also worked to help protect Whatcom County from what would have been the largest coal export terminal in North America. The climate impact would have been larger than all of Washington State put together. He’s working to keep refinery jobs from being shipped overseas, and working to protect us from the growing danger of exploding crude oil trains.

Todd’s also pledged to be careful with your tax dollars. He does not support the effort to commit the County to a multi-million dollar jail expansion. He’s instead interested in a smaller, smarter, less costly jail proposal and supports forward-thinking policies that divert some people from jail mean that we spend less of your money while making our community safer and healthier. That includes cost-saving strategies for safe pretrial alternatives to jail and funding for treatment for those who are mentally ill and chemically dependent.

Finally, he supports policies that retain our businesses and attract new businesses and new, family wage jobs, including an effort to leverage our educational assets including Western Washington University, Bellingham Technical College, Northwest Indian College and Whatcom Community College in a way that promotes new , sustainable, clean industries. He believes our skilled and creative workforce, our proximity to the border, and our spectacular natural setting make this a destination for new businesses, and will work to continue to realize that vision on the County Council. View website


County Council District 3:

Rebecca Boonstra

Rebecca Boonstra is running for Whatcom County Council, District 3. She has spent years working on community development projects in the Foothills and is ready to bring her skills and perspective to Whatcom County.

Working as the executive director of the Mt. Baker Chamber of Commerce, she is aware of the assets and untapped potential the Foothills and Lakes contribute to Whatcom County. She’s interested in preserving the beauty and wonder of these areas while providing access to visitors and residents. There are many places for people to recreate and enjoy and she wants to increase the number of visitors and help make tourism a successful, job-creating industry in the county.

Whether we're talking about clean drinking water, creating great jobs, or increasing tourism, we sometimes have a different perspective and often feel distant from decision makers. With that being said, Rebecca looks forward to hearing from you and is ready to represent your values ​​and views. After all, that's what she’s been doing for years in east Whatcom County.

The Whatcom Democrats, Young Democrats of Whatcom County, Sierra Club, 42nd Legislative District Democrats, Riveters Collective, National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington and Washington Conservation Voters have endorsed her.

She would be honored to have your vote. View website


Port of Bellingham District 1:
Michael Shepard

Michael Shepard has lived and worked in Bellingham for over 20 years. While enjoying his time here, he has worked for the Whatcom County Parks, Whatcom Community College, Northwest Indian College, and Western Washington University. He currently teaches graduate and undergraduate eLearning classes in Environmental Studies, Anthropology and Cultural Sustainability at Goucher College, and is a Research Associate at Western’s Center for Pacific Northwest Studies. Shepard is also a member of the Portage Bay Shellfish Advisory Commission, and is a board member for the Kulshan Community Land Trust.

Michael and his wife Minh Nguyen have two young children, and own a home in Bellingham’s Fountain District. Minh is also a Western Alumni and has been a teacher in the Bellingham School District for 10 years. His family loves Whatcom County because of its beautiful natural environment and vibrant community. View website



Port of Bellingham District 2:
Barry Wenger

As a long-time senior environmental planner for the State Department of Ecology, Barry Wenger has worked with many Puget Sound Port officials, citizens, marine businesses and trades, commercial fishers and others to redevelop and cleanup their waterfronts in an environmentally-sound and economically responsible manner. These initiatives have brought important waterfront projects to fruition through the sound and allowed him to develop excellent collaborative negotiation and communication skills and build trust amongst a wide array of stakeholders to collectively solve problems.

Barry stands for a port that generates prosperity and represents the interests of our entire community. This includes commercial fishers, boaters, light industry, shipping terminal customers, and marine businesses and trades. He believes that full public access to our waterfront and where appropriate, mixed-use sustainable development are equally important.

The port is responsible for generating economic prosperity and representing the interests of our entire community. He wants to make sure that we preserve our commercial fishing and marine trades industries and foster business and job growth, especially in the clean energy sector. Itek Industry — the state’s largest manufacturer of solar panels — is now re-locating to the waterfront. He believes the port should continue to attract companies like Itek that are in the business of wind generation, energy storage and energy efficiency so as to strengthen our economy. He also wants the port to generate jobs in the recreational, tourist and entertainment industries as waterfront redevelopment continues. View website



Bellingham City Council at Large:
Roxanne Murphy

Roxanne was first elected to the Bellingham City Council as the At-Large Representative in 2013, and she has been honored to serve the Bellingham community ever since.

She was a champion for the successful Greenways and Emergency Medical Services initiatives, a right-sized jail and financial plan, affordable housing and homeless services, and our environment and drinking water. When her proposal to bring paid and safe sick leave to Bellingham failed, she volunteered for the winning Statewide initiative that now allows everyone in Washington to have this work leave and a higher minimum wage. The Bellingham City Council passed her resolution to support the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in their work to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline development. They also passed her Resolution asking the Bellingham community to Decline to Sign Initiative 1552 to help with protecting our Transgender community.

She has earned numerous endorsements from organizations that reflect our Democratic values, including the Whatcom County Democrats, Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, Bellingham / Whatcom County Firefighters (IAFF Local 106), Teamsters (Local 231), United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW 21), Service Employees International Union (SEIU 1199NW), Riveters Collective, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawaii and NARAL Pro-Choice Washington.

Roxanne is a Washington State Native in every sense of the word. She’s a member of the Nooksack Indian Tribe who has lived in Washington State all of her life. She has resided in Federal Way, Ellensburg, Tacoma and Seattle, with Bellingham being the best home she’s ever had.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in communications from Central Washington University and a master’s degree in public administration from The Evergreen State College. She currently works as the Youth Director for her Nooksack Tribal Government and she previously worked as a public relations and community outreach specialist for the City of Tacoma, Woodland Park Zoo and Weyerhaeuser Company.

Roxanne is an avid cyclist who has cycled her way through the Tour de Whatcom, Chuckanut Classic and Ski to Sea. You can also find her hiking, practicing yoga, swimming, power walking, skiing and weight lifting.

For more information, visit roxthevote.com, and please be sure to support Roxanne in the Aug. 1 Primary Election!


Blaine City Council at Large:
No endorsement


On the General Election Ballot:

Bellingham City Council Ward 6:
Michael Lilliquist

First elected to the Bellingham City Council in 2009, Michael has been chosen as the President of the Council for 2017. His past positions include chair of the Council’s Finance & Personnel Committee, Community and Economic Development Committee, and the Parks & Recreation Committee. He represents the City of Bellingham on the governing boards of Whatcom Transportation Authority (public transit), the Whatcom Council of Governments (regional transportation planning), and the historic Mount Baker Theater.

Among Michael’s many community activities, he has served in an ex-officio capacity on the boards of several organizations including the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism, Bellingham / Whatcom Chamber of Commerce, and Sustainable Connections. With an educational background in scientific research, psychology, and work experience as a paralegal, Michael brings his personal experience as an active citizen and from years of volunteer and community work in our public schools, local non-profit organizations, and from service on city boards and commissions prior to his election to office. He is also a long-time youth leader for his church. View website


Bellingham School Board Pos 4:
Jenn Mason

Jenn Mason is a Pacific Northwest native, lifelong Democrat, mom, and outspoken community advocate. For the past 15 years, she’s worked directly with and on behalf of children and families in Whatcom County, addressing issues including child abuse, teen dating violence, homelessness, and disability rights. She is the former Development and Education Director for Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services, where she worked with over 10,000 students, creating and delivering violence prevention workshops and trauma counseling in every public middle and high school in the County.

Today, Jenn’s work includes parenting a daughter with cerebral palsy, who attends Bellingham School District’s Developmental Preschool. She also owns a small business as an event planning and communication professional, but has continued to be a strong advocate for those in need. She is currently the Board President for Brigid Collins Family Support Center, serves on Bellingham School District’s Special Education Parent Advisory Committee, and assists seniors in their home through the Volunteer Chore Program. Jenn has a B.A. from Western Washington University in Communication and Sociology, and a Master of Public Administration from Seattle University. View website


County Council District 1:
Rud Browne

As a long-time resident of Whatcom County, Rud Browne has gotten to know the area in different ways. Rud started his business, Ryzex, in 1989 and opened an office in Whatcom County the following year. Ryzex, a business refurbishing and re-marketing high tech equipment, began to grow, and several years later Rud’s family moved to Bellingham. Over the years Ryzex grew into a multinational company that employed 360 people, 140 of which were in Whatcom County. Ryzex was recognized by numerous organizations for its economic success and environmental responsibility. These two characteristics are part of what Rud has brought to Whatcom County. In 2011, Rud sold Ryzex and now helps other young companies become economically successful and environmentally sustainable. Rud remains ardent to these pillars and has used them to guide him during his term as an at-large representative on the Whatcom County Council since 2014. Rud has used his experience of economic success and environmental responsibility to create jobs in Whatcom County and continues to advocate for workers in our community.

If elected to represent the first district Rud will continue to bring his passion for the people of our community and environmental responsibility to the Whatcom County Council. Rud’s business experience influences his role as an elected official, and he carefully considers all aspects before making decisions that affect the many members of our community. Rud hopes to help create new jobs, care for the environment and maintain Whatcom County as the wonderful, beautiful place it is for all. View website


County Council at Large:
Barry Buchanan

Barry Buchanan is a 4th generation Whatcom resident, US Navy veteran, and a former small business owner. Before his time on the County Council, he was an employee at Lockheed and worked on some of our country’s biggest projects like the Trident submarine, ballistic missiles, and the space shuttle. Barry directed the choir at his church and helped with the Bellingham High School alumni band, which he co-founded. Barry and his wife, Judy have three grown children, Jesse, Jennifer and Randy.

Barry Buchanan is currently serving his first term on the Whatcom County Council, where he is the Chair for the County Council and Flood Control Zone District Board of Supervisors. He is dedicated to the preservation of our environment and has worked to protect Lake Whatcom to ensure that our community has access to clean water. Barry was also a crucial player in banning fracking practices in Whatcom County that would have destroyed important ecosystems. As a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Barry supports sustainable local agriculture and seeks to protect the livelihood of small farmers.

As our community faces pressure to ship refinery jobs abroad and expand fossil fuel exports, Barry has been steadfast in preserving Cherry Point jobs. He has expanded employment opportunities in Bellingham by supporting a company seeking to expand its operations and revitalize the waterfront. Barry believes that a thriving community needs good jobs and good medical services, which is why he crafted the voter-approved levy to strengthen our countywide emergency medical services. It is also why he is reducing the need for an oversized new jail by focusing on criminal justice reforms and social programs that will keep people out of jail. View website


City Council Ward 2:
Gene Knutson

Elected to the Bellingham City Council in 1993, Re-Elected in 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, 2013.

Council President 1995, 1999, 2006, 2010, 2015

Police Pension Board 1995, 1999, 2006, 2010, 2015

Fire Pension Board 1996, 2000, 2007.

AWC Municipal Leadership Certificate 1997

Employed at Bellingham Cold Storage 42 years.

Member of the Bellingham Central Lions Club, Bellingham Elks Lodge.

Married to Wife Jan 21 years.



City Council Ward 4:
Pinky Vargas

Pinky joined the Bellingham City Council to be a voice for women, the environment, and social justice. She has served as President of City Council, Chair of the Finance Committee, and Lake Whatcom Natural Resources. She is currently Chair of Community and Economic Development and is focused on the huge challenges of Housing, Homelessness, and Economic Development. She has a vision of a vibrant, healthy city and urges us to work together for solutions to ensure everyone feels safe, has housing, jobs, and opportunities.

Active in her community, Pinky serves on the Boards for Bellingham Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Bellingham Partnership, and Whatcom Tourism. Pinky has worked for PSE for 8 years, with businesses and organizations on Energy Efficiency. Pinky was instrumental in leading Bellingham in a National Energy Prize, (www.guep.org) those efforts awarded her PSE's “Energy Award” for 2017. She was nominated for “Whatcom Professional Women of the Year” and authored the Resolution for “Public Safety and Support for Mt. Baker Planned Parenthood ”. Most recently brought the resolutions to adopt the Bellingham Flag and confirming Bellingham’s commitment to the Paris Climate Accord.

Pinky has been a champion in her community for equity and civil rights, the environment, reducing incarceration, and economic vitality. votepinkyvargas.com



Ferndale City Council:
Kate Hansen

Kate Hansen is a local non-profit professional and a long-time Whatcom County resident. She and her husband chose Ferndale to put down roots and raise their family. Working with the most vulnerable in our neighborhoods, she feels compelled to run a campaign to representAlles of the city’s residents.

Kate has a wide range of experience at hand. She has worked for successful state-level initiative campaigns and navigated our healthcare system as an advocate for the underrepresented. She has worked with city level governments and police agencies in an effort to lower homelessness rates countywide. Having worked extensively in the non-profit sector, she is someone that understands the value of solving problems without wasting time and resources. You can find her on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/kateforferndale/




The 2017 Whatcom Democrats Endorsements can also be viewed in our Elections / Endorsements Section of the Whatcom Democrats website.