Twofile for Blaine City Council vacancy

Published on Thu, Aug 30, 2007 by ack Kintner

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Two file for Blaine City Council vacancy

By Jack Kintner

Two men took advantage of a three-day open filing period last week to run in the November general election for the unexpired term of Blaine second ward city council member Bruce Wolf.

Blaine planning commission member Harry Robinson of 9119 Great Blue Heron Lane will face political newcomer Max Shelton of 1900 H Street.

The winner will represent ward two from November 27, when the November 6 election will be certified, through the end of 2009.
Shelton, 29, is a Blaine native and a 1997 graduate of Blaine high school, a class that included Heather Ridnour, Anthony Newell and Newt Bouma.

He is married to a woman he called his “high school sweetheart,” Josie Holdass Shelton, and they have two children, Emma, 4, and Otto, 6 months.

Shelton graduated from Western Washington University in 2002 with a degree in business administration and is a financial adviser with Smith Barney offices in Bellingham.

He is running because he wants to see Blaine “continue to move in the right direction. I grew up here and know that Blaine has a lot of potential. We have a lot of opportunities before us as a community.”

When asked to be more specific, Shelton said that he was a strong supporter of downtown renewal and beautification projects such as former Blaine city councilman Bruce Wolf’s efforts with the Vigil statue in downtown.

His business bought the last of the corporate sponsorships during the fundraising drive.

“I won’t be a carbon copy of Bruce Wolf, though, as I didn’t always agree with him,” he said, even though he expressed admiration for Wolf’s involvement and loyalty to the Blaine community. “I’ve been thinking about doing this for some time, getting involved in some way, and when the opportunity came I signed up,” Shelton said.

Robinson, 68, and his wife Joanne have lived in the area for more than 15 years, first in Birch Bay and, for the last 13 years, in Blaine. A native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, Robinson became an American during his career as a marketing executive in the insurance industry working in Los Angeles and in Texas.

He has served on the Blaine planning commission for the last eight years and also serves on the board of the St. Joseph Hospital Foundation. Together he and his wife have seven children and 13 grandchildren.
Robinson said that he initially became interested in filing for the open position because of his respect for former council member Wolf’s accomplishments.

“I feel I can make a contribution in helping Blaine continue in the same direction,” he said.

“We need to take a good look at Blaine’s comprehensive plan. A lot has occurred since it was originally drafted. We need ordinary citizens, city staff, council members and the planning commission all to have input into the direction they want the city to take.”

When asked about proposals to use a hearing examiner to review certain development projects instead of the planning commission, something Wolf advocated as a way of streamlining the review and permitting process for developers, Robinson said that “It sure got a sharp reaction” from the public. “Two negatives are the cost and the fact that people may feel intimidated (about making public comments) if they have to get up in front of a judge.”

Robinson said he values public participation, saying he was happy with how the amount of public comment and involvement has grown during his time on the planning commission.

“In the beginning, we often had public hearings with very few people attending,” he said, “but over the years people have felt more and more comfortable coming to meetings and providing commentary, and I feel it’s because the planning commission did something right, getting that public input.”

Robinson concluded by saying that it’s been essential for the commissioners to hear as much public input as possible, that ideally everyone who lives here should be an active part of the process.