John H. Blethen
|John H. Blethen|
|Bellingham Board of Directors, Position 4|
|Elections and appointments|
|Last election||November 5, 2013|
|Master's||Western Washington University|
- 1 Biography
- 2 Elections
- 3 Campaign themes
- 4 What was at stake?
- 5 About the district
- 6 Recent news
- 7 See also
- 8 External links
- 9 References
Blethen earned a B.A. from Antioch College and a M.Ed. in Industrial Arts from Western Washington University. He is currently the owner of Whatcom Interior. Blethen has been the co-chair of the Larrabee Elementary PTA, chair of the Bellingham Parks Board and helped establish the Bellingham Food Co-op. He has four children and seven grandchildren including two daughters who currently teach at district schools.
Blethen sought election to the board against incumbent Steven H. Smith on November 5, 2013.
|Bellingham Board of Directors, Four-year term, Position 4, 2013|
|Nonpartisan||Steven H. Smith Incumbent||53.5%||14,725|
|Nonpartisan||John H. Blethen||46.5%||12,779|
|Source: Whatcom County Elections, "November 5, 2013 General Election," November 26, 2013|
Blethen placed second in the August 6, 2013 primary for the Position 4 seat. Blethen and Steven H. Smith advanced to the November 5, 2013 general election.
|Bellingham Board of Directors, Primary, Position 4, August 6, 2013|
|Nonpartisan||Steven H. Smith Incumbent||53.1%||6,904|
|Nonpartisan||John H. Blethen||29.2%||3,791|
|Source: Whatcom County Elections|
Blethen's campaign website listed the following endorsements for 2013:
- Bellingham Neighborhood School Coalition
- Coalition to Save Larrabee
- Happy Valley Neighborhood Association
- Wendy Scherrer
- David Marshak
- April Mahoney
Blethen reported no contributions or expenditures to the Washington Public Disclosure Commission.
Blethen sought election to District 1 on the Port of Bellingham Commission but lost to incumbent Scott L. Walker on November 3, 2009.
|Bellingham Port Commission, District 1, November 3, 2009|
|Nonpartisan||Scott L. Walker Incumbent||52.6%||27,125|
|Nonpartisan||John H. Blethen||47.4%||24,489|
|Source: Whatcom County Elections|
Blethen provided the following statement for the Local Voters' Pamphlet in Whatcom County:
"Building community has been much of my adult life focus and I have worked hard saving open space as legacy for the future. But I know, and you know, the most important resource that we have is our kids. I am running for school board because I am concerned that the cost of education is rising, but student learning is not. We are looking at substantial new taxes to build facilities which will not reduce class size, the best tool for improving learning. While we need new school facilities, this need not happen at the expense of walk able community schools. We need to get school planning on the same page as neighborhood planning. It is also troubling to see our best principals moved to new administrative jobs at the expense of smaller class size and effective school leadership. . Our schools are focused on educating for college bound kids at the expense of kids who need other skills. Clearly, it is a time to look for innovative ways to educate our kids for a changing world. I pledge that I will participate actively in clear and transparent processes to lead our schools forward."
What was at stake?
Themes in Position 4 race
The district has experienced a 3.5% increase in enrollment between 2008 and 2012 while the district budget was cut by $1.5 million between 2011 and 2012. A major issue in the Position 4 race is the closure of Larrabee Elementary School slated for the end of the 2013-2014 school year. Smith voted along with three board members to close the school due to poor performance and long-term renovation plans for district schools. Blethen and Hue Beattie challenged Smith in the August 6, 2013 primary due to his vote on Larrabee Elementary. Stockburger was the lone vote to prevent Larrabee's closure and does not face opposition for his seat.
Smith also faced a primary challenge due to his support for a $160 million bond on the November 5, 2013 ballot. The bond would support renovation of district facilities including $73 million for Sehome High School and a $17 million remodeling of district offices. Beattie believed that community involvement in renovation could bring down costs while Blethen argued for a more gradual renovation process that would not require a large bond measure.
About the district
- See also: Bellingham School District, Washington
Bellingham outperforms state averages for higher education achievement while lagging behind in median income and poverty rate. The percentage of city residents over 25 years old with undergraduate degrees (38.6%) exceeds the state average (31.4%). The 2010 U.S. Census calculated Bellingham's median income at $39,299 while the state median income was $58,890. Bellingham had a poverty rate of 22.6% in the 2010 U.S. Census while the state rate was 12.5%.
Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin, not a race. Therefore, the Census allows citizens to report both their race and that they are from a "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin simultaneously. As a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table will exceed 100.0%. Each column will add up to 100.0% after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages.
This section displays the most recent stories in a Google news search for the term "John + Blethen + Bellingham + Schools"
- All stories may not be relevant to this page due to the nature of the search engine.
- John Blethen for Bellingham School Board, "Bio," accessed September 3, 2013
- Whatcom County Elections, "Local Voters' Pamphlet," accessed October 31, 2013
- John Blethen for Bellingham School Board, "Endorsements," accessed September 3, 2013
- Washington Public Disclosure Commission, "Local Candidates," accessed December 17, 2013
- The Bellingham Herald, "Larrabee Elementary closure a motivator for challengers in school board race, July 21, 2013
- U.S. Census, "Quick Facts: Bellingham," accessed August 30, 2013
- Whatcom County Auditor, "Election History," accessed August 30, 2013
- United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014