The who and what of Bellingham’s midterms

Breaking down the initiatives and campaigns

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The who and what of Bellingham’s midterms

Megan Gill and Nate Southcott

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Three new initiatives were voted into law and several new candidates elected into the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives on November 6, the national Midterm Election day, and the results are still being processed.
Bellingham is covered by two different legislative districts: Numbers 40 and 42. Sehome High School is in District No. 40.
In District 40, Debra Lekanoff (Democrat) and Michael Petrish (Republican) ran for State Representative Position One. Lekanoff won with 68.91 percent of votes. Jeff Morris (Democrat) ran unopposed for Position 2.
“You always wish you could’ve done better,” Petrish said. Lekanoff made no comments despite attempts to contact her.
District 42 also voted on two state representatives and a state senator. Doug Ericksen (Republican) ran against Pinky Vargas (Democrat) for state senator. An official recount has been called and currently Ericksen leads with 50.05 percent of votes. The gap between the candidates has been closing as more provincial ballots are counted; first the gap was 156 votes, then 72, and is currently 58. Ericksen has been an undefeated incumbent for 20 years, first elected in 1998 to the State House, then in to the Senate in 2010 where he has remained since, defeating every Democratic attempt to take the seat.
Justin Boneau (Democrat) ran against Luanne Van Werven (Republican) for State Representative Position 2. This race has also ended in a recount of the vote after falling within the .25% margin. Sharon Shewmake (Democrat) ran against Vincent Buys (Republican) for State Representative Position 2. Shewmake won with 50.66 percent of votes. If the two recounts end up in Democratic victories it will be the largest local upset in years, flipping all three of the 42nd District seats and making Whatcom a solidly blue county.
In addition to electing state representatives, each state voted on their own initiatives; Washington State had four initiatives on the ballot.
The first (Initiative 1631), concerned pollution, but was not passed by voters. The measure would have imposed a new pollution fee of fifteen dollars per metric ton of carbon content on sources of greenhouse gas pollutants and use the revenue to reduce pollutions. The second (Initiative 1634), concerned the taxation of certain items intended for human consumption and was voted to pass. It would prohibit new or increased taxes on grocery items, and raw or processed foods or beverages, but does not cover alcohol, marijuana products, or tobacco products.
The third (Initiative 1639), concerned firearms and was also voted to pass. It raises the required age to purchase firearms from 18 to 21, requires training in safe usage of firearms before licensing, which covers basic safety rules and proper storage and securing of firearms, and increases background checks.
The last, (Initiative 940), concerns law enforcement. It was also passed by voters. It would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental health, and first-aid training, and add a “good faith” standard for the use of deadly force. Essentially, it creates a standard that requires law enforcement officers must attend additional training that deals with aforementioned subjects and creates a committee that decides whether an officer fired a weapon in “good faith” (an officer is permitted to use deadly force in certain circumstances, including if some one’s life is in immediate danger).
68.23 percent of eligible Washingtonians voted in the 2018 midterm election, an increase of 14.07 percent from the 2014 midterms.
“It’s a lot of hard work,” Petrish said. “You put in a lot of time and effort, there’s a lot of work on the phone, raising money an