A lot of money has been raised for the four people running for seats on the Port of Olympia commission, and more money is about to be spent, according to state Public Disclosure Commission filings.
The four candidates — incumbents Bill McGregor and E.J. Zita, and challengers Gigi McClure and Bill Fishburn — have so far raised about $120,000 in cash contributions, the data show.
However, the sums are nowhere near the money being spent elsewhere in the state, such as on the Port of Vancouver, Washington, race, where one candidate has received $370,000 in cash. But the numbers are still impressive for the size of the Olympia port, which has a three-member commission and operates on an annual budget of about $12 million.
Data does show that challenger McClure and longtime incumbent McGregor appear set to receive another influx of cash for a stretch run to the Nov. 7 general election.
A political action committee has been created called Coalition for a Better Thurston that has been funded to the tune of $30,000, receiving $10,000 contributions from Weyerhaeuser Co., Port Blakely, and the International Longshoremen and Warehousemen’s Union in Olympia. All three have ties to the port’s marine terminal: Weyerhaeuser exports logs through the port, and so does Pacific Lumber and Shipping, a Port Blakely division. Longshore workers handle cargo at the port.
The filing also shows that the $30,000 is earmarked for McClure and McGregor. Why?
ILWU business agent Robert Rose, identified as a campaign manager for the PAC, could not be reached Thursday, but Rose and other longshore workers have raised concerns about the future of the marine terminal, and have wondered whether Zita, McClure’s opponent, would work to close it.
Zita has raised financial and climate change concerns about the terminal but has called her supposed interest in closing it a myth. McClure and McGregor support the marine terminal, while Fishburn told the Olympian editorial board that he is “agnostic” on it.
McClure, an Army veteran, is challenging Zita for her District 3 seat, while Fishburn, a former Intel worker from Rainier, is vying for McGregor’s District 2 seat. McGregor, a Coast Guard veteran, is a former longtime port employee in both Tacoma and Olympia, and Zita is a local farmer and professor at The Evergreen State College.
District 1 incumbent Joe Downing is not up for election.
A closer look at the cash and in-kind contributions and their donors as of Thursday:
▪ Bill McGregor: $41,535. Top donors: Clydia Cuykendall, $2,500; Holbrook Inc., $2,000. Cuykendall is a former Port of Olympia Citizens Advisory Committee member, and Holbrook is a marine terminal tenant.
▪ Bill Fishburn: $34,352. Top donors: Thurston County Democratic Central Committee, $2,600; Fishburn, $1,732.
▪ Gigi McClure: $23,952. Top donors: Thurston County Republican Central Committee, $1,500; Puget Sound District Council PAC, which has ties to longshore workers, $1,000.
▪ E.J. Zita: $20,362. Top donors: Thurston County Democratic Central Committee, $3,100; Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters, $1,000.