Kelli Linville, a fourth-generation Whatcom County resident, small business owner, educator and former state legislator with more than four decades of community service, became the Mayor of Bellingham on January 1, 2012. She was elected to a second term in November 2015.
Mayor Linville is the City of Bellingham’s first woman mayor. She brings to her position a great passion for community service and excellence in government and decades of experience as a public servant.
A lifetime of experience in our community
Mayor Linville was born and raised in Bellingham. She is a 1966 graduate of Bellingham High School and holds bachelor’s (1974) and master’s (1981) degrees in speech-language pathology from Western Washington University. She worked for 16 years as a speech pathologist in the Bellingham Public Schools and was active in the Bellingham Education Association, including serving as the organization’s president in 1989.
She was elected in 1992 to represent the 42nd District in the Washington State House of Representatives, serving 1993-1994. She lost her bid for re-election, only to be appointed to fill a vacant seat in 1995. She won seven successive re-election bids for her 42nd District seat, serving through December 2010, for a total legislative service of 17 years.
Relationships, respect and results
Mayor Linville is well-known locally and statewide for her fair, independent voice and highly effective leadership, with her skills, influence, and strong relationships resulting in successful legislation and policy at the state and local level in many key areas, including economic development and job creation, government accountability, social justice, and funding for important community projects.
As Mayor of Bellingham, she has prioritized ensuring public health and safety, balancing the City budget, supporting local business, protecting environmental resources, and preserving neighborhood character.
Mayor Kelli also aims to enrich the quality of our community development through maintaining our roads and infrastructure, encouraging housing affordability, and aiding in job creation.
While in the legislature, she chaired the powerful House Ways and Means Committee, the primary fiscal committee for the House of Representatives. Throughout her legislative career she consistently “reached across the aisle” to solve problems, working across party lines for the good of the greater community.
She counts among her innumerable legislative achievements:
- Sponsor and a key negotiator for new state pipeline-safety laws, after the tragic explosion that killed three young people in Bellingham in 1999;
- Created the LIFT (Local Infrastructure Funding Tool) program and secured $25 million in state matching funds for waterfront redevelopment.
- Provided state funding for Western Washington University's Center for Economic Vitality, which provides services to local small businesses to help them maintain or expand business;
- Obtained nearly $2 million in funding for the East Whatcom Regional Resource Center, which will help support residents in the Columbia Valley area;
- Secured funding for the new Bellingham Boys & Girls Club, and for the Ferndale Boys & Girls Club after it burned down New Year's Day 2007;
- Supported legislation creating a displaced worker program in the state that supported employees in Whatcom County who worked in the timber industry and at the Georgia-Pacific pulp mill when it closed;
- Sponsored the Landscape Management Plan, created to protect Lake Whatcom. It was finalized and approved by the Board of Natural Resources in 2004;
- Sponsored bill to create tax relief for Alcoa Intalco Works aluminum smelter west of Ferndale to save county jobs.
In addition to decades of serving her community in various roles, Mayor Linville is the co-owner of several small businesses. She has a life-long interest in mid-century design and is a long-time collector of 1950s furniture and art. She is married to Will Roehl, is the mother of two adult sons and is grandmother to two granddaughters.
Affiliations (partial list)
- Small Business Development Center Advisory Board
- Sustainable Connections Advisory Board
- Whatcom Conservation District
- Health Support Center Board - Past President
- Bellingham/Whatcom Chamber of Commerce
- Rome Grange
- Mt. Baker Theatre Board
- Bellingham Planning Commission
- League of Women Voters
- Rainbow Center Advisory Board
- Nooksack Recovery Team
- American Association of University Women
- Whatcom Family YMCA Board
- Brigid Collins House Board
- Evergreen AIDS Foundation Board
- City Club of Bellingham
- Washington Women for Commercial Fishing
- The ARC Board
- Rotary Club of Bellingham
- St. Luke’s Foundation Board
Recent Awards (partial list)
- 2014 Peace Builder Award with County Executive Jack Louws from the Whatcom Dispute Resolution Center
- 2010 Outstanding Elected Official Award from the Washington State Bar Association
- 2010 Legislator of the Year Award from the Northwest Regional Council
- 2009 Whatcom County Peace Builder Award from the Whatcom County Peace Builders
- 2009 Legislator of the Year Award from the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs
- 2009 Gene Cotton Award from the Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs
- 2009 Poverty Action Legislative Leadership Award from the state-wide Poverty Action Network
- 2008 Friend of Manufacturing Award from the Washington Manufacturing Service
- 2008 Champion of Justice Award from the Alliance for Equal Justice
- 2008 Outstanding Legislator Award from the Northwest Senior Services Board