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Nonprofit leader challenges Bellingham mayor’s reelection bid

Kim Lund was Bellingham Public Schools Foundation director

Kim Lund announced March 13 she will run for mayor of Bellingham in 2023. Current Mayor Seth Fleetwood told Cascadia Daily News he will seek reelection.
Kim Lund announced March 13 she will run for mayor of Bellingham in 2023. Current Mayor Seth Fleetwood told Cascadia Daily News he will seek reelection. (Photo courtesy of Kim Lund)
By Ralph Schwartz Local Government Reporter

The race is on for mayor of Bellingham.

Kim Lund, recently executive director of Bellingham Public Schools Foundation, announced her bid March 13 to become the city’s next mayor.

She seeks to oust Seth Fleetwood, who is nearing the end of his first term. Fleetwood said in a text message March 14 he will run again.

“I am running for reelection and look forward to making a formal announcement in the days ahead,” Fleetwood said.

If elected, Lund would take over management of a city with serious issues. Housing is becoming increasingly unaffordable, and homelessness is rising. Widespread drug use is leading to more overdoses and disrupting Bellingham’s vibrant commercial centers. 

“Downtown businesses are struggling,” Lund said in an interview. “I’ve been out having stakeholder conversations in the community for weeks now, and the issue of downtown vibrancy and safety is consuming a lot of oxygen.”

Lund said she agreed with city council members who, on March 13, rejected Fleetwood’s proposal to make public drug use a misdemeanor before establishing a drug diversion program in municipal court.

“We can all agree that we shouldn’t have open drug use on our streets downtown, and the therapeutic court is the right remedy,” Lund said. “We should be looking for leadership that can be putting these elements in place, in the right order.”

In addition to her recent role with the schools foundation, Lund is a board member with Brigid Collins and Whatcom Million Trees Project. She also has been on the Whatcom County Planning Commission since 2018.

Other candidates are lining up for the 2023 elections.

An at-large seat on the Whatcom County Council has a second candidate. Atul Deshmane, currently on the county planning commission and the Whatcom Public Utility District board of commissioners, seeks to replace Carol Frazey, who has said she is not running for reelection. Jon Scanlon, a board member with both Whatcom Democrats and RE Sources, already announced his run for Frazey’s seat. 

When asked in an interview about his top priority as a county council candidate, Deshmane mentioned resilience.

“When government does well, it builds tools and supports that allow people to be more empowered and more successful,” he said.

Bellingham City Council members Lisa Anderson and Hannah Stone are running to retain their seats, according to Public Disclosure Commission filings. County Treasurer Steve Oliver also has filed for reelection, along with Port of Bellingham Commissioner Bobby Briscoe.

In Mount Vernon, Peter Donovan is a candidate for mayor. He currently works in Mayor Jill Boudreau’s office as project development manager.

Two Sedro-Woolley City Council members, JoEllen Kesti and Joe Burns, have declared they will run for mayor of that city.

This story was updated at 1:44 p.m. March 14 to include quotes from Whatcom County Council candidate Atul Deshmane.

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