October 29, 2017 Sandy Robson
A joint campaign flyer paid for by the campaigns for four self-described “nonpartisan” candidates running for office in Whatcom County in the November general election, just arrived in voters’ mailboxes. The top of one side of the flyer reads: “Tired of Partisan politics? So are we.” The flip side of the flyer reads, in part: “We Don’t Want To Be Elected By A Political Party, We Want To Be Elected By The People.”
Two of those supposed non-partisan candidates, Mary Kay Robinson (At-Large position) and Tyler Byrd (District 3), are running for Whatcom County Council; and two of them are running for Port of Bellingham Commission, Dan Robbins for District 1, and Ken Bell for District 2.
After the Whatcom County August 1, 2017, primary election, these four conservative candidates have been trying to hide their relationships with the Whatcom Republicans, and have rebranded themselves as “nonpartisan” candidates, during their campaigning for this 2017 November general election season.
Voters need only look at the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission website to see irrefutable evidence of present (2017) and past, direct campaign financial ties between each of these candidates to the Whatcom County Republican Party PAC.
What’s most disturbing, to me, is that by trying to now, appear as nonpartisan candidates, they are not being forthright about the reality of their relationship with the Republican Party, especially the Whatcom County Republican Party (“Whatcom Republicans”). I want to elect politicians who are forthright, transparent, and honest.
The very first thing that caught my attention on these candidates’ most recent joint flyer, was the photo used for Ken Bell, which shows him shaking hands with former Port Commissioner Doug Smith. I recognized that photo because it was taken at the July 13, 2017, Whatcom Republicans annual picnic, held at Berthusen Park in Lynden. Bell had posted that photo in a July 19 post on his “Ken Bell For Port” Facebook page.
Whatcom Republicans had posted its picnic flyer which advertised: “Come Say ‘Hi’ to your state and local officials! Meet The Republican Supported Candidates For Local Office.”
Prior to the August 1, Whatcom County primary election, the Whatcom Republicans, on July 15, posted their list of officially supported candidates who were running in the primary, and were recommended by the organization. Out of the four stealth Republican candidates whose campaigns mailed out the recent joint flyer, the candidates listed on the Whatcom Republicans’ supported candidates list were: Tyler Byrd, Dan Robbins, and Ken Bell. Because there was no primary election for the County Council At-Large position race in which Mary Kay Robinson was running, her name was not listed on the Whatcom Republicans’ supported candidates list for the August 1, 2017, primary election.
On the Whatcom Republicans’ July 10 Facebook Event post about their annual picnic, the text above the Event graphic
read: “Republican and live in Whatcom County? You’re invited! It’s an event for the entire family.”
The text did not read: Republican, Democratic, or Nonpartisan, and live in Whatcom County? You’re invited. It was very specific to being a Republican.
Photos displayed on social media show that candidates Tyler Byrd, Ken Bell, and Dan Robbins attended the picnic, and show that Byrd and Robbins both took turns on the stage speaking to the crowd. I am unsure if Mary Kay Robinson was in attendance at the Whatcom Republicans’ picnic, however, there was a photo included in a July 14 post about the picnic, posted on the Whatcom Republicans Facebook page that shows a stack of “Elect Mary Kay Robinson” flyers on a table at the picnic, on which, Whatcom Republicans-supported candidates’ campaign literature was displayed.
Photos displayed on social media also show that Byrd, Robbins, and Robinson all attended the April 8, 2017, Whatcom Republicans’ annual Lincoln Day Dinner fundraiser at the Four Points by Sheraton Bellingham Hotel & Conference Center. Bell told me in a phone call that he did not attend the dinner.
On September 11, 2017, the Whatcom Republicans posted on its website a list of what they described as “non-partisan candidates who have not requested nor received endorsement/support of the WCRP,” for whom the organization was recommending voters should vote. According to an October 21 comment posted by Vice Chair Karl Uppiano, on the Whatcom Republicans’ website, their organization mailed out yellow slate cards with that candidate recommendation information to all registered voters in Whatcom County.
The Democratic candidates running against these four stealth Republicans are:
-Barry Buchanan for Whatcom County Council At-Large
-Rebecca Boonstra for Whatcom County Council District 3
-Michael Shepard for Port of Bellingham Commissioner District 1
-Barry Wenger for Port of Bellingham Commissioner District 2
The other County Council races in the November general election are these shown below:
Whatcom County Council District 1 position, between Democratic candidate Rud Browne, and a conservative candidate, Phil Morgan, who is described by the Whatcom Republicans as “non-partisan.” Morgan is officially supported/endorsed by the Whatcom Republicans.
Whatcom County Council District 2 position, between two Democratic candidates, Amy Glasser and Todd Donovan.