Elections

Port of Olympia Commission District No. 1

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This race will appear on the Nov. 5 general election ballot.

Joe Downing

Age: 65

Occupation: Port Commissioner

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?

Yes. Port of Olympia Commissioner

Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

VOTER PAMPHLET PICTURE - Joe Downing.jpg
Joe Downing Courtesy photo Joe Downing

I am best prepared to serve as Port Commissioner for the Port of Olympia. I volunteered on the Port’s Citizen Advisory Committee for six years, and have served as your Port Commissioner for nearly four years. I continue to support efforts to improve and sustain a healthy environment. In addition, I have 20 years’ experience working in private industry in the area of logistics and planning, and ten years working for Washington State as a financial examiner. My education includes an undergraduate degree in Economics, and a Master’s in Business.

Why are you running for this position?

I am running for re-election to continue enhancing Port operations and infusing the County with economic vitality by investing in projects that create family-wage jobs and serve our community. Some examples are: expanding the agricultural hub in South County, acquiring the business center in Lacey with its incubator space for small businesses, and exporting safe and legal cargo such as dairy cows to Vietnam.

I am committed to the Port becoming more nimble and able to respond to economic opportunities faster while being good stewards of the environment – restore where needed, lower our carbon footprint, and encourage solar options.

What are the top three issues you see facing the district you are running to represent?

1. The mission of the Port is economic development. Citizens pay taxes and deserve to see those funds used wisely. I have the experience to take Port and tax revenues and apply those to worthwhile projects that create the most return for the community.

2. Making the Port work for the people. We provide public amenities that serve our community and are available in case of emergencies: On any given day members of the public can enjoy the Billy Frank Trail, the Swantown marina, events at the Port Plaza, the Farmer’s Market, and the annual air show. In addition, the airport and the deep water marine terminal provide a sense of safety and security for our residents in case of a national or natural emergency.

3. Being transparent with the public so that the Port moves forward in a collaborative fashion. Continue to utilize the Citizen’s Advisory Committee, where volunteer members research and recommend new initiatives. Continue to learn from our recent Vision 2050 study, where we collected over 10,000 unique inputs and suggestions for the Port’s future.

Helen Wheatley

Wheatley - Helen Wheatley.jpg
Helen Wheatley Courtesy photo Helen Wheatley

Age: 58

Occupation: Policy analyst

Have you run for public office before? If so, for what office?

PCO only

Please list any other experience you think is relevant to the position you are running for.

I was born in the Pacific Northwest, taught and raised my family here. As a historian with a Ph.D. in world history from Johns Hopkins University, I know the changes that have transformed our region in the past, and understand the local strengths and qualities we want to carry into the future as we face globalized challenges. For over two decades I have served on the Board of Heart of America Northwest, a citizen watchdog group that has fought to keep Washington State from being turned into a repository for high level nuclear waste, to uphold environmental laws and safety standards at the Hanford nuclear site, and support clean energy and nuclear safety in the Northwest. Closer to home, I have served as Treasurer and in other board positions in community organizations, and I am currently the Vice Chair of the Cain Road Area Neighborhood Association.

Why are you running for this position?

As part of our community, the Port faces tough challenges that affect us all: lifting our young people into sustainable skilled jobs for the future, cleaning up the troubled waters of Puget Sound, and confronting the climate crisis. To rise to the challenge, the Port must change and stop spending our tax dollars to serve special interests instead of the public interest. I want our children to be able to touch the water and enjoy the bounty of our local farms. The Port needs stronger oversight, in order to assure that public assets are protected and investments are made wisely.

What are the top three issues you see facing the district you are running to represent?

The Port must get its house in order and achieve sustainability in its operations. It should stop stealing from the future with over $50 million in unproductive debts. This is the necessary first step toward the larger goal of shaping the Port into a strong and useful supporting partner to provide infrastructure, improve our local economy and secure family wage jobs for our local workforce.

The climate crisis will define the Port of the 21st Century. It’s on the front line of Sea Level Rise. It should exert leadership on addressing industrial pollution with rising waters, the challenges to sewage and stormwater, and shaping of our shoreline to support the ecosystem and keep down long-term costs. The Port must participate with other local governments in developing climate mitigation strategies and promoting clean sustainable energy.

Improved public involvement is a top priority. I support a fact-driven approach to policy making, combined with transparency and meaningful public participation that is not stifled by Port policies. The Port has much deferred strategic planning on its plate. Working together, we can meet the toughest challenges and embrace the best opportunities, while preserving the qualities that make Thurston a great place to live.

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