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Stoddard: ‘Salmon Yoga’ has serious message

Timothy ‘Cleaver’ Stoddard  gestures as he makes a point  during an interview Thursday at The Journal. He’s a candidate for 40th District state Senate. - Journal photo / James Krall
Timothy ‘Cleaver’ Stoddard gestures as he makes a point during an interview Thursday at The Journal. He’s a candidate for 40th District state Senate.
— image credit: Journal photo / James Krall

Candidate’s priorities: Yoga in schools, restoration of salmon runs, and an ‘honor’ for Bush

Timothy “Cleaver” Stoddard is not your typical candidate for office.

Stoddard, the state Senate candidate from the so-called Salmon Yoga party, walked into the newsroom via the back door Thursday, coffee cup in hand, sunglasses atop his head, wearing a midriff-exposing T-shirt emblazoned with the words, “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

He doesn’t have a permanent home, he said; he camps out or stays with friends. “Everything I own is on my bike and in my backpack,” he said. But, he points out, he has “the lowest carbon footprint of anyone.”

Stoddard had missed a candidates’ forum in Friday Harbor the previous weekend because he was on a sailboat on the west side of San Juan Island, checking out the orcas and salmon. He and his friend had an encounter with a gray whale; more on that later.

His campaign has no money; he’s depending on word of mouth. He spend his funds keeping his Web site and political blog going -- flowersforgeorge.blogspot.com (subtitle: “Help send flowers to world leaders in the name of peace”). He hopes to raise some money to “get some fliers going.”

But Stoddard’s a serious candidate, and his party-of-one with the strange name has a serious message. He believes he has a solid plan to restore the region’s salmon populations, starting with the Skagit River. He wants yoga offered in public school P.E. classes. And he’s circulating a petition to have the wastewater treatment plant in Bellingham renamed in honor of President George W. Bush; a similar proposal qualified for the ballot in San Francisco and is expected to be approved by voters there.

While Stoddard may be the lesser known of the Senate candidates, he’s still standing. Stephanie Kountouros, chairwoman of Obama’s presidential campaign in Whatcom County, dropped out of the race. So did former Mount Vernon City Council member Paul Gonzalez.

Still in the race: Hue Beattie, a community activist who has had leadership positions with the state and national Democratic Party; former Whatcom County Council member Ken Henderson, Democrat; San Juan County Councilman Kevin Ranker, the nominee of the Legislative District’s Democratic precinct committee officers; Steve Van Luven, a Republican and former state representative.

And Stoddard.

Who is this guy?

Stoddard graduated from Skyline High School in Idaho Falls, and studied science and art at the University of Idaho in 1974-78. He’s single but was married for 25 years. He has three adult children: a son, 25; daughter, 23; and son, 20.

He said he’s worked as a tile, stone and glass artist, and as a political activist. He believes in karma and that business and policy decisions should be made based on this question: “Does it help others or not, on an individual or cultural level?”

“ ‘Yes’ answers will plant positive seeds which will ripen and start solving the problem,” he wrote in his statement for the voters pamphlet. “Planting seeds (helping others) will later ripen into solving the problems.” He cites Enterprise, Google, Horizon Air and T-Mobile as “good karmically based corporations.”

About his issues: He said the Sawtooth National Fish Hatchery in Stanley, Idaho, has had success in transplanting smolts in rivers where salmon runs have disappeared. The process is called “imprinting” and he’d like to start at the Skagit River and expand from there.

“We could bring back our salmon populations in five to seven years,” he said. “No politician has come out and said, ‘I’m going to save the salmon.’ I’m the first one.”

He said offering yoga as a P.E. elective in grades K-12 would have in numerous health benefits, among them improved self-esteem, sensible sleep and eating patterns, enhanced concentration for school studies, and improved breathing and balance. “There would be predictable results in 30 days,” he said.

About his proposed George W. Bush Sewage Treatment Plant in Bellingham; well, let’s just say he feels it’s an appropriate honor.

About his missing the candidates’ forum: He and a friend were on a sailboat, anchored off San Juan Island’s False Bay. It was about 11 p.m. It was a moonlit, starry night, with no wind.

Suddenly, the boat lifted about two feet; they looked over the side and saw what they believed to be a gray whale; barnacles, no dorsal fin.

Stoddard believes the whale was feeding and inadvertently bumped their boat.

“It freaked us out,” he said. “But there was no aggressiveness. Personally, I think it as playing with us.”

An experience to remember — like his campaign.

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