Impressive turnout for state, county positions

By Stefanie Donahue

Voters are sure to be on the edge of their seats this midterm election.

According to the Whatcom County Auditor’s Office, 77 people threw in their hats for 17 positions serving the state and county during candidate filing week, May 14–18.

Races with more than two candidates will be winnowed down at the Tuesday, August 7 primary election. The top two candidates who receive the most votes, despite party affiliation, will move onto the November 6 general election.

Several key offices are up for election this year, including U.S. Senator, which serves a six-year, partisan term. A total of 29 people, including incumbent senator Maria Cantwell (D), are running for the position. Thirteen of the candidates identify as Republican and five identify as Democratic. The other remaining candidates identify as Independent or Libertarian or name other parties, such as “Freedom Socialist.”

Five people, including incumbent representative Suzan DelBene (D), are running for U.S. Representative in the first congressional district, which serves a two-year, partisan term. Jeffrey Beeler (R), Scott Stafne (R), Robert Mair (no party preference) and Adam Pilskog (no party preference) are also running for the seat.

In District 42, incumbent Doug Ericksen (R), Pinky Vargas (D) and Tim Ballew II (D), are running for state senator, which serves a four-year, partisan term. A resident of Ferndale, Ericksen has served the position since 2010 and was re-elected in 2014. Vargas is currently a senior business accounts manager at Puget Sound Energy and is currently fulfilling her second term on Bellingham City Council, representing the fourth ward. A former chair of the Lummi Nation, Ballew currently serves on Whatcom County Council as an at large member.

According to the Public Disclosure Commission (PDC), Ericksen has received a total $48,645 in campaign contributions; Vargas has received $42,230 and Ballew has received $54,999.

In District 42, which encompasses Whatcom County, two positions serving a two-year, partisan term as state representative are up for election. Three people are running for position 1, including incumbent Luanne Van Werven (R), Justin Boneau (D) and Dean Berkeley (R). Berkeley is currently serving a six-year term as a commissioner for the North Whatcom Fire and Rescue district commission. Two people are running for position 2, including incumbent Vincent Buys (R) and Sharon Shewmake (D).

According to the PDC, Van Werven has received $14,060 in campaign contributions and Buys has received $13,155. The PDC had no data for the remaining candidates.

In Whatcom County, four people are running for an at-large position on the county council, which serves a one-year, unexpired term. The position is currently held by Ballew, who said when he was appointed that he wouldn’t run for the position again. Eric Bostrom, Carol Frazey, Aaron Thomas and Mike Peetoom are running for the position. Peetoom is a Custer resident and is on the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce board of directors; he and his wife Christie own Mike Peetoom Construction and Infinity Dance Company.

In Washington state, candidates must be registered to vote and possess all remaining qualifications that are required for the position by law. To learn more about who filed for open office positions in the state and county, visit

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