Jonathan Rands will be Whatcom County’s new district court judge following a tight race against Gordon Jenkins.
Rands, a private attorney and electoral newcomer, was endorsed by community organizations across the aisle, including both Whatcom County Republicans and the 42nd District Democrats, union organizations and the Lummi Indian Business Council. He earned 36,030 votes (62.25%), according to preliminary election results.
“I'm exceptionally satisfied, happy, ecstatic,” he told Cascadia Daily News Tuesday night. “I've been campaigning so hard. Today, I knocked on my 7,800th door since June 2021.”
“I think that my 20-plus years in Whatcom County, my experience, my willingness to listen to the concerns of the people here is really what won this for me,” he continued. “I look forward to being sworn in and serving my county ... and making a difference in people's lives in a positive way.”
Jenkins, another political newcomer and deputy prosecuting attorney, earned 21,579 votes (37.28%).
“The ballots are what they are,” Jenkins said Tuesday. “I'm deeply grateful to everybody who has given me time, attention and support throughout the entirety of this process.”
Both candidates emphasized support for adopting therapeutic court models in the community, though Jenkins said the “community court” system espoused by Rands was only part of what he sees as a solution.
Therapeutic community courts, Rands said, are designed to connect low-level offenders charged with misdemeanors, including trespassing charges often levied against homeless individuals, with resources to help them access food, shelter and literacy programs. The court calls for less jail time, more community service and a significant increase in local resources for those seeking mental health and addiction treatment and affordable housing.
The two candidates were neck-and-neck throughout the race, with Rands earning 42.3% of the vote during August’s primary, and Jenkins earning 35.4%. A third candidate, David Nelson, earned 21.9%.
Additional election results will be available Wednesday.