The City's charter establishes a council-mayor form of government. City
management is led by the elected Mayor in a strong-Mayor, weak-Council form
The Mayor is elected for a four-year term. Six council members are elected to
serve four-year terms, with a seventh council member elected every two years
in an at-large capacity. State statute also provides for an elected Municipal
Court Judge, who is elected for a four-year term.
The City provides a full range of municipal services, including public
safety, culture and recreation activities, economic development, streets and
parking, utilities, and general administrative services.
Activities owned and operated by the City include water, wastewater and
stormwater utilities, municipal parking facilities, Lake Padden Golf Course,
Bayview Cemetery, Whatcom Museum of History and Art, Bellingham Public
Library and Fairhaven Library, nearly 100 parks, a civic stadium, athletic
fields, and the Arne Hanna Aquatic Center. The City operates Whatcom Medic
One to provide countywide emergency medical services by agreement with
A Deputy Administrator and administrative department heads are
appointed by and serve at the Mayor’s discretion, with three exceptions: the
City Attorney and Finance Director require approval of the City Council for
appointment or removal, and the Library Director is appointed by the
Bellingham Public Library Board of Trustees. The City of Bellingham is
structured into departments or service areas, which may be further divided
into operating divisions. Advisory boards, neighborhood associations and
other volunteer groups provide policy advice and other services that help the
city function in collaboration with the community’s vision.