Business

Candidates field queries before 100 at Port forum

OLYMPIA - Port of Olympia commission candidates Jeff Davis and Dave Peeler combined have raised more than $36,000 in their race to become the next District 3 commissioner.

On Wednesday night, Davis and Peeler took part in a question-and-answer forum that was co-sponsored by The Olympian and the League of Women Voters of Thurston County. Olympian Publisher George Le Masurier moderated the event at the Olympia Center and asked questions that were submitted beforehand for the two candidates.

Davis, 41, and Peeler, 58, both had a minute to introduce themselves to about 100 people in the audience, followed by about a minute apiece to respond to each of eight questions.

The questions covered the Capitol Lake versus estuary issue, dioxin pollution in Budd Inlet, the port’s economic development role, whether the port should be a self-sustaining enterprise and the development of NorthPoint, the 2.4-acre parcel at the north end of the port peninsula that is near the KGY radio station studios.

Perhaps the highlight of the forum was a question for the candidates that asked them to contrast their campaign contributors. State Public Disclosure Commission records show that Davis has raised more than $28,000 for his campaign, while Peeler has raised more than $8,000.

Davis, a longshoreman with the International Longshoreman’s and Warehouseman’s Union, Local 21, in Longview, acknowledged that he has received financial support from fellow union members.

“We stick together, we work together and we live and die together, so when we find out anywhere on the West Coast that somebody is out there fighting for the cause then we do work together, we do contribute to those campaigns,” said Davis about the union support he has received.

Peeler, who retired from the state Department of Ecology last year, said that most of his campaign contributions have come from within the county.

Here’s a summary of the candidates’ responses:

CAPITOL LAKE VS. ESTUARY

Davis: “The sediment held back by the (Capitol Lake) dam has the potential of really disrupting the flow of cargo as it comes into Budd Inlet.”

Peeler: “If the decision is to keep the dam in place, then the port needs to figure out how it’s going to contribute to having a healthy environment and healthy economy at the port peninsula. So far (the port) hasn’t participated in any shape or way in the retention of the lake with the dam in place and that needs to change.”

THE PORT AS A SELF-SUSTAINING OPERATION

Davis: “The port has some under-utilized assets. They have a couple of cranes (on the marine terminal) that are good for birds, but the goal should be to get those assets back moving again.”

Peeler: “I would agree the port has been subsidized (by property taxes) and that needs to be phased out. The cranes will continue to not be used because we are just not set up to accommodate that kind of ship traffic.”

DEVELOPMENT OF NORTHPOINT PROPERTY

Peeler: “I’m disappointed that the current port commission has not developed a more concrete plan, concrete vision for NorthPoint. We do have KGY and I would certainly like to see them be provided for.” He also said he supports more public access to an area he called “beautiful.”

Davis: “Quite frankly I think it is too early to develop the (NorthPoint) property because of the East Bay development. We need to make sure that the East Bay development matures in a manner so that it can be successful. I’d hate for us to get the cart before the horse.”

Davis or Peeler will replace Paul Telford on the commission; Telford will retire at the end of the year. The two other districts on the port commission are represented by Bill McGregor and George Barner.

Rolf Boone: 360-754-5403

rboone@theolympian.com

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