A Blaine planning commissioner will run for a seat on Blaine City Council currently occupied by John Liebert.
Ken Oplinger, a resident of Blaine, planning commission chair and president of the Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said he will run for Liebert’s Ward 1 position, which will expire in November.
Oplinger, who moved to Blaine with his family several years ago from Visalia, California, a city with a population of about 100,000, was also the president of the Visalia Chamber of Commerce and served on the city’s planning commission. While there, he also helped start a social meet-up group called Viva Visalia.
“We were all fairly new to (Visalia) and didn’t know anyone so we started this group,” he said. “It died off after about two or three years but it was lots of fun.”
Oplinger earned his bachelor of arts degree in political science from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, as well as a second degree from the Institute for Organizational Management at UCLA, and is a self-proclaimed “lobbyist in real-life.” Oplinger said he thinks the biggest challenge facing the Blaine community is the substantial amount of growth.
Oplinger said while he wasn’t running on any particular issue, he wanted to be onboard when the city advances its downtown development efforts and incorporates the Port of Bellingham and city of Blaine master plans for the marina. He added he was excited about the development of a new freeway off ramp in south Blaine and the “hundreds of housing units” that are on the horizon for east Blaine off H Street Road.
“I want to see what I can do to advance some of the positive changes that are coming down the pipe for Blaine,” he said. “I believe Blaine is on the verge of some important, positive changes and I want to be part of the group.”