Whatcom County Council’s Gerrymandering – Prop 9 “So Flawed Even a Progressive Must Vote NO!”


This is a featured guest article from local resident and author, Jack Petree. The posting below is Jack’s letter which was submitted to the Bellingham City Council, regarding their action to promote discussion and potentially pass a “resolution” in favor of ‘or’ against this proposal slated to be on your November General Election Ballot. ~ Kris


Proposition #9 – So Flawed Even A Progressive Must Vote NO!

This year Whatcom County voters are asked to decide whether Whatcom County should be split into five County Council districts instead of three. Each district would send one representative to the County Council with an additional two representatives elected to “at large” positions.

Billed as “fair and equal” by proponents, the Proposition actually makes a monumental mess of a system that’s worked fairly well for decades. A frantic rush to beat election deadlines meant mistakes were made that will keep lawyers happy for years to come; mistakes assuring the proposition, implemented as written, will result in 20 – 40% of the county’s population having no council representative at all for most of the next two to four years and, possibly, requiring two or three of our current council members to resign their positions. Nothing fair and equal about that.

Here are eight reasons conservatives and liberals/progressives can unite in opposition to Prop Nine:

1. If implemented, the area South of Bellingham and all of the East County will have no representation on the Council for nearly two years (20 months). The representative for the new District 3 lives in North Bellingham, just outside Ferndale. That’s not fair and equal!

2. Census data shows the probability is that for at least the first 20 months of the new regime, four County Council members will live in Bellingham with the remaining three Council members living in the new District Four unless some serious and very obvious gerrymandering takes place in violation of state law. That’s not fair and equal!

3. It’s almost certain, based on Census data, that the new District Five (Blaine, Birch Bay, Ferndale, Lummi, etc.) will have no representative on the Council for nearly four years (44 months). That’s not fair and equal!

4. If adopted, between one and three County Councilmembers may be forced to resign. The Whatcom County Charter reads, “Any change in the boundaries of the councilmember’s district which shall cause that member to be no longer a resident of the district which that councilmember represents shall not disqualify that councilmember from holding office during the remainder of the term for which that councilmember was elected or appointed,” and, “…councilmembers shall be residents of the districts which they represent.”

The “boundaries of the councilmember’s district” are not being changed; the districts are being eliminated, replaced by new districts to which no one has been elected.

5. Prop. 9 proposal was vigorously discussed by the Charter Review Com

Do you have something you’d like to say in regards to this November’s elections? Submit your article for consideration to: sml.libertyroad@gmail.com


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  1. Your No. 4, quoting section 4.20 of the charter, actually says council members will *not* be forced to resign. Redistricting “shall not disqualify that member from holding office.” Confused by the double negative, perhaps.

    • It points out the fallacy of the ordinance itself. Once the district has been eliminated, you do not live in the district, you have no district to represent. Pointing out one of many problems with the ordinance is the point…proving a negative is impossible…pointing out a double negative does not make it a positive. But, it does reaffirm that this was a rushed, poorly thought out ordinance, which is why the Charter Review Commission rejected it in a bi-partisan vote. 11 NO vs. 4 YES. No amount of lipstick will make this pig-in-a-poke ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pig_in_a_poke) palatable.

  2. While I respect Jack’s efforts to point out the issues, I think it wise to also state that the fact of a transition period doesn’t mean the other side of the transition won’t yield the intended benefit. He may have a problem with the transition but what of the outcome?

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