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District 42 House incumbents face challengers from left and right

Five candidates run for two positions in district that covers much of Whatcom County

By Charlotte Alden General Assignment/Enterprise Reporter

This election reporting is provided free to all readers as a public service by your locally owned Cascadia Daily News. Thanks for supporting truly local news by donating to CDN or subscribing here.

Two incumbent Democratic representatives in the 42nd Legislative District will face challengers in this year’s primary election.

Position 1 Rep. Alicia Rule is seeking a third term in the House, while Position 2 Rep. Joe Timmons seeks a second. Republican Raymond Pelletti and Democrat Janet Melman are challenging Rule, while Republican Kamal Bhachu is seeking to unseat Timmons.  

All candidates will appear on August’s primary election ballot, with the top two advancing to the general election in November — meaning Timmons and Bhachu will likely advance. District 42 encompasses most of Whatcom County. 

House Position 1 

Rule, first elected in 2020, intends to continue work on public safety, education funding and affordability if reelected to the state House this year.

Position 1 District 42 Rep. Alicia Rule is running for reelection. (Photo courtesy of Alicia Rule)

A Blaine resident with a therapy practice in Bellingham, Rule characterized herself as the “most bipartisan legislator in Olympia.” In her last term, Rule pointed to the public safety caucus she co-founded with Rep. David Hackney (D-Tukwila) as an example of her efforts to address public safety concerns in Washington. Specifically, she’s concerned about the shortage of police officers, and the uptick in violent crime and organized retail theft. Rule has previously supported legislation to lift restrictions on police pursuits and criminalize street drugs.

If reelected, Rule said she plans to introduce a bill to protect in vitro fertilization (IVF) rights, continue work on fully funding public schools — with a focus on special education, libraries, outdoor education and trades education — and increase affordability. 

Rule is endorsed by the 42nd District Democrats, the Washington Education Association, Whatcom County Sheriff Donnell Tanksley and many Democratic or Democratic-leaning local representatives and leaders.

Challenging Rule are two political newcomers, from both sides of the political spectrum.

Blaine realtor Raymond Pelletti, who describes himself as a small-government conservative, said he wants to work on affordable housing and homelessness, address crime and emphasize parental rights.

Republican Raymond Pelletti is running for District 42 House, Position 1. (Photo courtesy of Raymond Pelletti)

Pelletti said he believes in providing better support and housing for homeless people and people struggling with mental illness or addiction, but said people who don’t accept support should be forced into taking it. He also said he believes in stricter punishments for people who carjack or shoplift. 

He highlighted his commitment to “parental rights” in education. He’s against mandated classes on what he called “gender ideology.”

On abortion, Pelletti said believes if a woman’s life is at risk, she should be able to get one, otherwise there should be a small window in which it is permitted — “within eight weeks or 12 weeks.” In Washington, abortions are legal up to the point of fetal viability, generally 24 to 26 weeks. 

Progressive Democrat Janet Melman, a retail worker and health care and LGBTQ rights advocate, said she would be the first trans woman to serve in the state Legislature, if elected. 

“There is no voice of lived trans experience in Olympia, and we need to change that,” she said.

Democrat Janet Melman is running District 42 House, Position 1. (Photo courtesy of Janet Melman)

Melman is concerned about the passage of Initiative 2081, which she said “forces schools to out LGBTQ youth to those parents.” Specifically, the bill requires schools to notify parents in advance of their child receiving medical services. Critics say this could harm students who want access to referrals for reproductive care or counseling related to their gender or sexual identity without their parents knowing.

Melman’s platform includes a proposal to move 50% of Washington’s power grid underground by 2030 to make it more resilient to weather and climate change. 

She criticized incumbent Rule’s voting record, specifically for voting against House Bill 1054 in 2021, which established some requirements for police around tactics and equipment, including restricting the use of chokeholds. Melman also took issue with Rule’s vote against House Bill 1589, which incentivized customers and pressured utility companies to move away from fossil fuels, but was criticized for the potential increased cost to consumers. Timmons also voted against the bill.

Melman has been endorsed by the Washington Stonewall Democrats and LPAC.

House Position 2 

Position 2 District 42 House Rep. Joe Timmons is running for reelection. (Photo courtesy of Joe Timmons)

Incumbent Joe Timmons will face off against Kamal Bhachu, a Republican who previously ran for a Whatcom County Council seat and for the Position 1 House seat.

Timmons was elected to the Legislature in 2022, and told CDN he was proud of his bipartisan work on affordability, education and emergency preparedness and response. 

Timmons introduced and passed House Bill 1823 to create a low-interest-rate student loan program for people who want to pursue graduate school in high-demand fields.

Timmons also highlighted his work with Rule, Sen. Sharon Shewmake and legislators in the 40th District to secure funding for the Whatcom Skills Center and Early Learning Center at Meridian High School, the 23-hour crisis center and the Ferndale Civic Campus. 

If reelected, Timmons said he hopes to reintroduce a bill on encouraging more social-emotional instruction in K-12 schools to help student mental health. It wouldn’t mandate instruction but would establish a grant program through Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI). 

He also wants to prioritize fully funding education, protect reproductive health care and access to abortions, and increase housing affordability. 

Timmons’ endorsements include Gov. Jay Inslee, the 42nd District Democrats and Lummi Nation.

Bhachu, a hospital engineer at PeaceHealth St. Joseph Medical Center, said he wants to bring “common sense” back into politics and represent the issues of people of color, particularly the East Indian community. 

Republican Kamal Bhachu is running for Position 2, District 42 House. (Photo courtesy of Kamal Bhachu)

Bhachu ran for Position 1 in 2022 but did not progress to the general election after coming in third. He lost a run for a Whatcom County Council at-large seat in 2021.

Bhachu said if elected, he would focus on fentanyl, affordable housing and access to trades education for K-12 students. 

He said he wants to make possession of fentanyl a felony offense and increase access to recovery centers. On affordable housing, he said he wants to eliminate some regulations around development to make building new housing less expensive. 

Bhachu said he wants to “bring back” trades education to high schools. He was not aware of the project to build the Whatcom Skills Center but said he would support those efforts.  

On reproductive rights, Bhachu said abortion is legal in Washington and said the issue is a “done deal.” He said it’s not a focus of his campaign. He is supportive of Initiative 2066 to overturn parts of House Bill 1589 on natural gas.

Bhachu is endorsed by several prominent Whatcom County conservatives, including former state Rep. Luanne Van Werven, who Rule unseated in 2021, and former Whatcom County Sheriff Bill Elfo. 

Charlotte Alden is CDN’s general assignment/enterprise reporter; reach her at; 360-922-3090 ext. 123.

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