Port commission expansion measure going down

(Update: 5:30 p.m., Nov. 7): The Whatcom County Auditor’s office updated its election results at 5:04 p.m. this evening. The numbers still show about 51 percent of county voters turning down Proposition 1. About 25,000 ballots are still to be counted, according to the auditor’s office.

For now, the Port of Bellingham commission remains a trio.

Early election results on the afternoon of Wednesday, Nov. 7, from the Whatcom County Auditor’s office show the port’s Proposition 1, which asked voters if they would want to expand the three-member commission to five and draw new commission districts, is headed toward defeat, with 51 percent of county voters turning it down.

The citizen-led measure was inspired largely by anger at the current commission’s handling of the controversial resignation of Charlie Sheldon, the port’s former executive, earlier this year.

If approved, Proposition 1 would have split Whatcom County into five port commission districts, and races for two new commission seats would have been on the ballot in the 2013 general election.

The idea to expand the commission has been floated by proponents for a number of years.

Supporters, led by former 40th District State Sen. Harriet Spanel and former Bellingham mayor Ken Hertz, said a five-member commission would led to broader representation of voters’ interests and better perspective on the port’s substantial economic responsibilities in Whatcom County.

Opponents questioned whether a five-member commission would be more effective in decision making, and also worried over the costs involved in the increase.

This article was revised on Nov. 7, 2012. An earlier version misidentified Harriet Spanel’s legislative title. 

Contact Evan Marczynski at evan@bbjtoday.com or call 360-647-8805.

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