Tuesday, August 6, 2013

August 2013 Primary Election

I should've done this earlier, but I didn't, so here I am! We are having a primary election right now which ends tonight, so I guess it's time to figure out who I'm voting for. There are two races on the ballot, and I'll look at them one at a time.

Bellingham City Council At-Large
There are three candidates for this at-large position. Their biographical info and positions can be found here. The important issues are whether taxes should be raised to address the city's budget deficit (they should not) and whether the city should do more to oppose the Gateway Pacific Terminal (it should not, mostly because it's outside the city limits and none of the city's business, but also because the GPT would be good for the region and create jobs).

Bob Burr says, "Raising taxes certainly is an option that must be considered with an open mind." Roxanne Murphy prefers "regular and creative budget improvement avenues before a tax increase would be considered." (I have no idea what that actually means.) Allen Brown gives a single word answer: "NO". Point goes to Allen Brown.

Gateway Pacific Terminal
Bob Burr says, "Absolutely" the city should do more to oppose the GPT because it "would be disastrous to our City." Roxanne Murphy is more nuanced in her opinion, but still says, "I’m opposed to the Gateway Pacific Terminal as a Lettered Streets resident who lives near the railroad tracks..." Allen Brown says no, the city should not do more to oppose the GPT because public opinion is split. He also says, "As long as the project meets current environmental and safety regulations, we cannot obstruct." Point to Allen Brown.

Conclusion: Vote for Allen Brown
Allen Brown opposes tax increases and at the very least doesn't want the city to oppose the GPT. Both Murphy and Burr are open to tax increases and both want the city to take a stand againsts the GPT. The choice is clear--I'm voting for Allen Brown.

Bellingham School District Director
There are three candidates for Director #4, but Hue Beattie doesn't seem to have any kind of web presence and apparently did not respond to the voter guide questions. Having no idea what his positions are, I cannot vote for him.

John H. Blethen's campaign seems to be composed of opposing the closure of Larrabee Elementary and spouting slogans like "support the teachers" and "smaller class sizes." He also wants city government to have more control over the schools (I can't help but think that's a bad idea considering how city government handles everything else), and would consider raising local taxes if the state cuts the budget. Steven Smith is the incumbent and voted to close Larrabee Elementary. I don't know whether that was the right decision or not, but he does oppose raising local taxes if the state cuts the budget.

Conclusion: Vote for Steven Smith
This is a tough one, partly because there's so little information, but mostly because I don't usually pay attention to school board politics. A lot of the issues that separate the candidates may be important, but I don't know enough to judge. What I do know is that Smith opposes new taxes on me and has taken action as an incumbent to cut spending so that new taxes are not necessary. On the other hand, Blethen supports higher taxes for me and opposed Smith's action to cut spending. That's enough for me to cast my vote for Steven Smith.