Voters Guides and Endorsements – 2017


Ballot hasn’t arrived?  Need a replacement? Call the Whatcom County Auditor 

Riveters Collective Endorsements

Candidate responses to the RC endorsement questionnaires

Lummi Indian Business Council Endorsements

Cascadia Weekly (see pages 7 and 8) 

Whatcom Democrats Endorsements

Progressive Voters Guide

The Stranger 

Whatcom Republicans


And if you like pictures:

LIBC Endorsements 2017


Wrench art by Kjersten Hayes

Call Governor Inslee Regarding the Cooke Aquaculture Farmed Fish Release

Here’s the Lummi Nation’s ask for support (plus one RC ask, #3) in responding to the Cooke Aquaculture farmed fish release near Cypress Island.

Call Governor Inslee

Hi, my name is _____ and I live in ______, Washington.

I’m calling to ask Governor Inslee to do three things:

1. Join the Lummi Nation in declaring a State of Emergency in response to the Cooke Aquaculture release of farmed Atlantic salmon near Cypress Island.

2. Coordinate recovery efforts immediately

3. Direct WA State employees to name Cooke Aquaculture in all media and documentation, and omit the company-contrived eclipse story, which is intentional misdirection.

# Background

On Saturday August 19th, a Cooke Aquaculture pen containing Atlantic salmon failed, and released more than 300,000 farmed fish into the Salish Sea near Cypress Island. The company, inexplicably, blamed the eclipse, though actual data show that tidal currents had been higher in previous days and in every other month of the year. This is not the first such release, and yet there are no alert systems or back-up systems for this kind of situation. Lummi Nation is responding, but wants the State’s support.…/environmental-nightmare-after-thousand…

Jail Ballot Measure Votes: An Open Letter from the RC

Riveters Collective values a fair and compassionate justice system with decisions informed by data and community process. This is the community’s jail and should reflect our values. Acknowledging that Whatcom County’s existing jail requires upgrades at a minimum, we see an opportunity to implement a bold new vision. We expect and will support our elected officials in casting risky votes toward these ends.


We express our gratitude to county council members Todd Donovan, Barry Buchanan and Ken Mann for voting against sending an incomplete and costly jail proposal to the November ballot. The work of the Vera Institute of Justice and the Incarceration and Reduction Task Force is not complete, and while we don’t yet know what size our jail should be, in a recent email regarding the size of the proposed jail Vera wrote, “Using the correct population, one would arrive at a number more than 30 percent smaller.” That underscores a need to wait until the work is complete before developing a plan.


We are disappointed that county council member Rud Browne moved to put this costly jail on the ballot, and council members Carl Weimer, Barbara Brenner, and Satpal Sidhu voted in favor. The two council members who invested the most time into finding solutions, Donovan and Buchanan, argued forcefully for waiting and stated clearly that this proposal isn’t ready and will fail again in November. Their hard work was ignored in favor of haste.


We are disappointed that city councilmembers Michael Lilliquist, Pinky Vargas, Gene Knutson, Terry Bornemann and Roxanne Murphy voted for the Jail Funding Use Agreement (JFUA). This vote was premature; we expect a  thoughtful, data-driven solution for our justice system. As citizens we are certain you have more power than you believe and wish you would have used your positions to urge the county to find a better approach. Given a choice between joining a poorly-researched project which perpetuates the prison industrial complex or declining to join and pursuing our own solution, we are ready to stand alone. At it’s core, the JFUA is a regressive sales tax that takes up 100-percent of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years. We also acknowledge that you each struggled with this decision, and we heard your statements as you voted yes — that you believed this was the best deal you could get for Bellingham in order to put some – albeit limited – funds into diversion programs. We thank city councilmembers April Barker and Dan Hammill for clearly expressing our shared values.


This year, Riveters Collective will work to defeat the jail ballot measure and will take pride in our work to find a better, more equitable path for justice in our community. We see better solutions on the horizon:

  • Bail reform so that people are not held in jail simply because they cannot pay
  • Fully funding treatment first, before incarceration
  • Diversion from jail, with incarceration as the last resort for those who are a danger to themselves or others; and
  • A new look at less expensive options for a new or renovated jail.


We believe that if we agree to put $110 million into a large jail in Ferndale, plus another $30-million for a sheriff’s office, that there will be insufficient funds for treatment, robust and effective diversion, or for re-entry into the community. Those are the very programs that make us safer. The proposed jail size, potential for expansion, distance from the courthouse, and proximity to Border Patrol are concerns. We will push for a serious look at either a smaller, less expensive jail or renovating our downtown jail.


Simply put, we believe that spending 100-percent of our public safety tax capacity for the next 30 years on a jail is not an investment in hope, but instead builds a legacy of despair. We stand ready to work with all of our elected officials on an equitable and comprehensive justice system after this ballot measure fails in November. Our goal will be an equitable, fair and less-costly solution that we can all support with pride.


The Riveters Collective Board of Directors


***Co-sign our letter below.***

Sign our letter:
Receive updates on the "No on the Jail Ballot Measure" campaign.


Roxann Kay

Sharon Shewmake

Lisa Van Doren

karen fisher

Maggie Wettergreen

Kathleen Hennessy

Stephen W. Jackson

Jennifer Gruenert

Susan Wood

Bette C Williams

Andronetta Douglass

Jenn Mason

Dena Jensen

Elizabeth Hartsoch

Eowyn Savela

Janet Hosokawa

Sandy Robson

Lisa Citron

Karlee Deatherage

Bert Monroe

Helen E. Moran

Brenda Bentley

Anna Wolff

Elma Burnham

Stephanie Allen

Wendy Courtemanche

Andrew Reding

RC 2017 Endorsement Process

Riveters Collective 2017 Endorsement Process and Information

  • Riveters Collective has Washington Nonprofit Corporation status, which allows electoral activity, including endorsements.
  • The RC Board voted to do endorsements on April 13, 2017.
  • RC Member Susan Wood volunteered to be the Endorsements Committee Chair.
  • RC recruited endorsement committee members by an open call to members through Facebook and email.
    • RC excluded anyone from the committee who had already begun working on a campaign, is a candidate for a local office, or has a leadership role in a major political party. For this reason, RC board members Lisa McShane, Stephen Jackson and Jenn Mason were excluded from the Endorsement Committee, and abstained from involvement in the process.  Board members Elizabeth Hartsoch and Eowyn Savela supported the committee’s work, but did not serve on the committee.
    • 11 people responded to the call, met the criteria, and were appointed to the Endorsements Committee.  One of the 11 committee members, Lisa Van Doren, also serves on the RC board.
    • Recognizing that the RC leadership team and endorsement committee are not sufficiently representative of the larger community–and more importantly the more marginalized and vulnerable members of the community–and recognizing that many local progressive groups are prohibited from making candidate endorsements, RC solicited feedback from groups representing diverse interests.
    • The Endorsement Committee built questionnaires off of these responses and RC’s progressive mission. The questionnaires were shared with the RC Facebook group and were amended based on the solicited feedback.
  • All candidates who filed for open positions on the Whatcom County Council, Bellingham City Council, Port of Bellingham Commission, or Bellingham Public School Board were contacted with an invitation to request the RC endorsement.  Final questionnaires were shared on the RC website and in the facebook group.
  • Candidates were sent RC endorsement questionnaires in mid-May, immediately after candidate filing week.
  • The Endorsement Committee met to develop candidate interview questions.
  • Eighteen candidates submitted materials to the endorsement committee by the May 30th deadline.
  • The Endorsement Committee interviewed candidate interviews June 5-7, 2017.  The committee declined to interview candidates in uncontested races, and declined to interview candidates whose values were fundamentally opposed to the values of the RC.  
  • All interview questions were asked in exactly the same manner to all candidates.
  • The Endorsements Committee considered questionnaire responses and interviews in making endorsement decisions. Following extensive conversation, the Endorsement Committee made their endorsement recommendations to the RC Board.
  • The RC Board formally voted to approve all endorsements as presented by the Endorsements Committee.

Recommended Actions for the Week of 20170612


Local Level Actions

National Level Actions / Other

From the Calendar

Link to the Riveters Collective Calendar

Every Monday: Attend a vigil hosted by C2C and Keep Bellingham Families Working between 11:30a.m.-1:30p.m. or 5:00p.m. in front of City Hall. Show the powers that be that you stand by our undocumented workers and anyone else running afoul of ICE. Let the officials know it’s not alright to tear families apart!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 from 6:00-8:30p.m.: Attend the City of Bellingham Townhall regarding the housing crisis affecting cities throughout the I-5 corridor. The meeting will be held at the Bellingham High School, 2020 Cornwall Ave, Bellingham, WA 98225. The first half will consist of a panel, the second half will be an opportunity for members of the public to share their ideas and potential solutions. Click here for more information or visit Facebook.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017 from 7:00-10:00p.m.: Attend the Whatcom County Council for an emergency public hearing on the proposed mega jail. People will be gathering outside the Whatcom County District Court, 311 Grand Ave., 1st Floor, Bellingham, WA 98825 at 6:00p.m. to learn more about the issues, and then the County Council will convene at 7:00p.m. Visit Facebook for more details.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 from 5:00-6:30p.m.: Join the ACLU People Power Postcard Party to tell our local representatives that the community wants an “independent oversight entity” to ensure the safety of undocumented residents and immigrants in Bellingham and Whatcom County. The event will be held at at Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro, 1107 Railroad Ave., Bellingham, WA 98225 and is open to all ages. A small donation is appreciated to help with printing costs. Visit Facebook for more information.

2017 Endorsed Candidates

***Riveters Collective *** 2017 Endorsed Candidates***

Bellingham City Council

Ward 4: Pinky Vargas

Ward 6: Michael Lilliquist

At-large: Roxanne Murphy 


Bellingham School Board

Position 4: Jenn Mason

                Teri Hill-McIntyre

                (Dual Endorsement)

Position 5: Douglas W. Benjamin  


Port of Bellingham

District 1: Michael Alvarez Shepard

District 2: Barry Wenger


Whatcom County Council

District 1: Rud Browne

District 2: Todd Donovan

District 3: Rebecca Boonstra

At-large: Barry Buchanan


We have a cheat sheet for you! Click on the image below to download a shareable image for social media.


Want to know a little more about these candidates and why we chose them? Click here to read their questionnaire responses, along with the responses of several other candidates whom we interviewed.

Cover photo credit: Kjersten Hayes

2017 Candidate Endorsement Questionnaires

The RC sent endorsement questionnaires to candidates on 19 May 2017.  Our endorsement committee is still hard at work, building rubrics for evaluation of responses and scheduling interviews.  You can see the questions linked below.


Candidate Information

Bellingham City Council

Whatcom County Council

Port of Bellingham

Bellingham Public Schools


Elections 2017

Candidate AMAs*

Dates will be added and linked as they are confirmed.

24 April 2017, 8:30pm – Amy Glasser, County Council District 2

8 May 2017, 8:00pm – Jean Layton, City Council

11 July 2017, 8:00pm – Rebecca Boonstra, County Council District 3

20 July 2017, 8:30pm – Michael Shepard, Port Commissioner District 1

16 October 2017, 8:00pm – Michael Lilliquist, City Council Ward 6

18 October 2017, 7:30pm – Jenn Mason, Bellingham School Board Position 4

26 October 2017, 8:30pm – Teri Hill-McIntyre, Bellingham School Board Position 4

1 November 2017, 8:30pm – Pinky Vargas, City Council Ward 4


*AMA stands for Ask Me Anything.  The candidate has agreed to take questions on the thread at the designated time.  This is an online chat.

Press Release: Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve – HB 1001 Amendment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Elizabeth Hartsoch, Riveters Collective, 1-360-305-5624


Statement: Pick a job, Senator Ericksen.

WHATCOM COUNTY, WASHINGTON — Today the Washington State Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee held a hearing on HB 1001 and Senator Ericksen was in attendance. HB 1001 is a technical  bill updating the payment schedule for utility easements on state owned aquatic lands.  It passed the House 97-0 and is now being considered in the Senate.  But Senator Erickson has introduced a major amendment which would overturn state protection of Cherry Point.

The amendment language mirrors that from one of his failed senate bills, a bill for which he was the sole sponsor, and missed the hearing because he was at his full-time job in Washington, D.C. – unsurprising since Senator Ericksen has missed more than three quarters of his committee hearings this year.

Citizens and elected Tribal leaders, however, showed up in force to the January 24th hearing in the Senate Natural Resources and Park Committee. Citizens and Tribal leaders opposing the bill filled the hearing room and an overflow room. Tribal leaders spoke in opposition and not a single person signed in to support overturning protections of the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve.1

In response to this renewed attempt to open the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve to industrial development, local activists with the Riveters Collective issued the following Statement:

“Our message was clear at the hearing in January – we want state protection for the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve,” said Elizabeth Hartsoch with the Riveters Collective and a resident of the 42nd Legislative District. “Unfortunately, our Senator was in D.C. at his other job. Nobody – not even Senator Ericksen – signed in to support his attempt to overturn protection of the Cherry Point Aquatic reserve, and it failed to advance out of committee.  Today Senator Ericksen flew back from DC to try again to open up the Salish Sea for coal export. This is a waste of everyone’s time and both state and federal taxpayer money. Once again we urge Senator Ericksen to pick one full-time job and stick with it.  Nobody – not his constituents back home nor his colleagues in Olympia – is well served by him trying to keep both jobs.”


1Summary Report Showing No One Signed in to support SB 5171. 

Whatcom Conservation District Board Supervisor Election: Candidate Information

Thank you for your interest in the Whatcom Conservation District Board Supervisor Election!  We contacted the three candidates and asked them to respond to the following questions:

  1. What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?
  2. What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges?
  3. What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?
  4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.
  5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

Two candidates answered the call, and their responses are provided in their entirety below.  While we shall not be endorsing a candidate, we hope that these responses and the additional information linked below will inform your voting.  You may vote in person at the District’s office at 6975 Hannegan Road, Lynden, on 3/14/17, 9 am-6 pm.  If you received a ballot, you may deliver it to the District’s office by 6pm on election day, or mail it so it will be postmarked on day of election or sooner. Good luck to you!


RESPONSES TO QUESTIONS (Alphabetical by Last Name)

Heather Christianson

1. What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?

Most of the work of the Whatcom Conservation District is accomplished through Federal and State grants. I have extensive knowledge in grant management having worked in both grantmaking and grant requesting organizations. I understand the importance of good grant management from both sides, and the necessity for thorough proposal reviews and measurable outcomes reporting to ensure proper and effective use of funding. I will help the Conservation District continue to work toward accomplishing their mission, and search for additional sources of revenue and programs to expand their work toward achieving their vision of a Whatcom County with healthy soils, water and air.

In addition, I have an in-depth understanding of board services. I currently serve on the Executive Board of the Whatcom County Democrats and chair the Finance Committee. I have also worked with many non-profit boards in a professional capacity. I strongly believe in the role of a board member as an advocate for the organization and its constituents. In that capacity, I believe it is important to help spread the message of the organization to networks beyond their reach. I have strong experience in advocacy having volunteered with local non-profits like Community to Community and with my union, Public School Employees. Through the role of advocate in the community, I will also be an active listener to the community, and will bring those thoughts to the table as a representative of this community in conservations strategies for a positive impact on Whatcom County’s water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats.

I also bring a wealth of diverse experience in event management from planning fundraisers to poetry slams to youth soccer tournaments, in program planning and implementation under funding constraints, in bridge-building between diverse communities, and in financial oversite and guidance. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will be able to offer my expertise to the staff for their various event and program work.

2.  What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges?

The Whatcom Conservation District is in a unique position to be a partner with farmers in helping with stewardship choices. They offer cost-share programs that encourage farmers to adopt conservation strategies. These cost-sharing and financial assistance programs help tackle the very first barrier facing farmers, which is how to implement conservation strategies without having a negative impact on an often unreliable bottom line. Many factors have an influence on yearly profits for farmers and planning for lean years can be a top priority over implementing conservation programs. With the District’s funding, these financial barriers are mitigated to encourage farmer participation. In addition, finding the time to develop and implement these programs can be challenging. With the District’s staff of experts available to help farmers with their plans, the District is able to help overcome that challenge as well. As a non-regulatory entity, farmers can feel comfortable approaching the District for their services. And through the District’s outreach efforts, such as the Small Farmer Expo and the Farm Speaker Series, the District takes every opportunity to educate farmers on available conservation programs and provide financial incentives to implement those strategies. If elected, I will advocate for the continuation of these programs as well as search for further opportunities to expand the District’s impact in Whatcom County.

3.  What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?

There are many approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish and other organisms. These programs include watershed management, water quality protection and restoration, estuary and floodplain habitat restoration, shoreline protection, efficient irrigation systems, proper manure storage facilities, streambank restoration, manure application risk management systems, and many more. The Whatcom Conservation District, as well as the Washington State Conservation Commission, offer several programs to assist land managers in their conservation strategies to help in these efforts. The best approaches are the ones that land owners are willing to follow through with and opt-in to be part of the solution. Our district offers expertise, planning assistance and cost sharing programs that include fish barrier removal, livestock waste management, streambank stabilization, and salmon habitat conservation. Often these programs aren’t sought out until a problem has been identified. Through my service on the board, I will help the District to motivate land owners and land managers to be proactive in utilizing these programs throughout Whatcom County. The best approaches involve partnerships so that many stakeholders are involved and help keep each other accountable in our roles to protect and improve our natural resources. Our district has been a strong partner in this process, including winning an Environmental Excellence Award last November. Unfortunately, I believe we have reached a critical juncture in which not one strategy will be the best solution. That is why I will be an advocate for expanding the programs and impact of the Conservation District. While their current programs and partnerships have had a positive impact on our water systems, I don’t believe we can allow for the status quo to continue. Significant progress needs to be made now before the damage is too great to be restored or recovered.

4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.

I live in the small farmhouse my grandfather built with his father in 1933, and where I spent most afternoons working with my grandparents on their farm. Currently, we harvest an annual organic hay crop on our farmlands which is used as feed by various farmers in our community. This deeply personal and historical connection to Whatcom County contributes to my dedication to preserving what we value most about living in such a beautiful, community-minded area. The economic interests of our farmers are vital to our community’s health, as are the environmental conservation measures that help preserve what we love about our County. The outreach efforts of the District are important in educating farmers, as well as the general public, in what efforts we can all make to have a positive impact on the health of our water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats. While it is the farming community that is most significantly served by the District, the District offers programs for all land owners and land managers in Whatcom County, from in-school educational programs to land owner programs such as soil testing and firewise programs. I have comprehensive experience in outreach efforts and strategies through other nonprofit work and if elected, will bring that experience to the Board of Supervisors as an active member in our community.

5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

Among my priorities, if elected, will include being a progressive voice for Whatcom County on the Conservation Board. I will be an advocate for our environment and for the best conservation practices that will have a significant impact on protecting and restoring our natural resources. Our farming economy is vital to our overall economy, but I will bring an open mind and fresh perspective for new ideas in the conservation field. A top priority will be to advocate for the best programs that utilize taxpayer dollars to have the highest impact on conservation in Whatcom County. For example, and another priority, will be the Conservation District’s role in water quantity for Whatcom County. While the District’s long ranch plan includes working to encourage widespread adoption of water conservation practices on working farms and ranches, I believe these practices will be essential in tackling Whatcom County’s ongoing and growing issue of water quantity. I will advocate that the District prioritize these programs, many of which are available through the Washington State Conservation Commission’s water conservation programs such as the Irrigation Efficiencies Grant Program which offers financial incentives for upgrading to more efficient, water-saving irrigation systems. This will be essential to ensuring available water for all users in the system as well as protecting salmon habitats in our river. I will also prioritize advocating for the District to explore innovative approaches to conservation. I appreciate the District’s lagoon pasteurization pilot project, which makes potable water from liquid manure, and I look forward to further exploring the viability of such programs for Whatcom County. If elected to the Board of Supervisors, I will bring an eager energy to exploring new programs and creative solutions for farmers and land managers in their conservation strategies. It is imperative that we make significant strides now to protect and restore the quality of our water systems, natural resources, and wildlife habitats, without having a detrimental impact on the viability or economic prosperity of our important farming community.

Suzzi Snydar

1.What background, experience, and skills do you bring to support the Whatcom Conservation District in its mission to assist land managers with their conservation choices?

As a woman involved actively in the Agriculture Community for over 20 years, I have hands on knowledge of farming the land as well as working closely with the Conservation District through the services they provide land owners. I have found it a productive ,amicable working relationship . The staff at the Conservation District are extremely knowledgeable in their area of expertise. I work well with others and have been involved in Whatcom County Farm Bureau as well as the Portage Bay Partnership. As the “stewardship” and “Manure Manager” for our family farm I have worked closely with the Conservation District , Department of Ecology and USDA. I am an Advocate for the work they do for our community. I have volunteered with countless groups and service organizations throughout the years . I have managed several businesses through out the years , and have overseen large groups of employees and volunteers .

2.What do you think are the most pressing challenges facing farmers in their stewardship choices and how will you work with the District to address those challenges? 

Ask three producers in the Agriculture community and you will get three different answers. For our farm I would Say the perpetual hoop jumping . Let me explain my answer in general terms . Four years ago (approximately) we were working towards a solution of an issue we had on our farm . Conservation District was spearheading the efforts and going through the process of the solution coming to fruition on our farm. The Conservation District Employees had a magnificent solution . Many government agencies were on board and had given their approval and support of the solution. Conservation District, Dept. of Ecology, USDA, Whatcom County. And then after many hours invested in getting to this solution — A single Government Agency says — NO. A singular Agency had the ability to completely keep the solution from being put into place.

So challenging to be part of the process working towards a great solution and have it all be for naught. The layers and layers of regulations across many different agencies that in many industries is repetitive and redundant. It is important that land owners understand that the Conservation District is there for them. They are effective and have access to great tools and clear science .

Late this spring we will begin a large project on our farm that the Conservation District , USDA and Ecology have all been part of . We are excited to break ground and see their hard work and planning on a project come to life.

3.What do you think are the best approaches to protecting and restoring habitat, instream flows and water quality for salmon, steelhead, shellfish, and other organisms?  

It is not my job to define these practices independently . As I am sure you are aware this is a complex and complicated issue that has been  tweaked by special interest groups and there is  significant misinformation in the press on these issues.  As a supervisor  I see my position as one  to allow the paid staff for the District to utilize their knowledge in these practices as they identify solutions and practices to be put into place by land owners. In my role as a Supervisor I will support their efforts ,ask questions ,and coordinate assistance as needed from other Agency’s and groups.

4. Describe your connections with the agricultural community in Whatcom County and how you will use those connections to support the District in their outreach efforts.

As a vocal advocate for Agriculture , it is my desire to raise awareness to land owners of the voluntary,incentive -based programs available that increase their stewardship of their land and natural resources. Our family farm is a signer and partner in the Portage Bay Partnership, this alone models that working together towards resolutions we can accomplish solutions for many . We are involved in Custom Harvesting forage for many farmers in our county. This puts me in contact with many farmers on a continual basis. As a rural land owner I and business owner I frequently interact with citizens who own parcels of land that could be served by conservation district if they needed services or advice on how to steward their land.

5. What will be your top three priorities if elected?

  • Advocate for Best Management Practices for our County. We in Whatcom County have been blessed with beautiful plentiful resources , that provide food, fiber and energy, It is my desire to protect their contributions to the local economy.
  • Encourage and work toward no net loss of farm land in Whatcom County.
  • BE a positive voice for the work that the Conservation District does.