All Politics is Local

Mayor Leavitt stands by Kris Greene endorsement

According to Vancouver Mayor Tim Leavitt, Port Commission Candidate Kris Greene “can bring this community together to lead the Port of Vancouver into our future.”

At least that’s what he says in a Greene campaign ad while standing next to Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas.

The Port race between Greene and Don Orange has been unusually divisive. The race has separated Vancouver into two factions: for or against the proposed Vancouver Energy oil terminal.

Greene is seen as the pro-candidate, and Orange vehemently against.

As the race comes nearer to a finish, Greene’s campaign contributions from Vancouver Energy and Tesoro continue to rise. Those totals now rest at $370,000.

Greene is also amid several controversies.

First, he’s seeking an order of protection against his former campaign strategist Robert Sabo and a gag order to prevent Sabo from talking to the media. That hearing was delayed yesterday until after the election and Sabo remains free to speak to the press.

Sabo reached out to The Columbian last week with allegations that Vancouver Energy is directing the Greene campaign, including how its donations should be spent, who should work with the campaign and shaping the campaign’s message.

News also broke yesterday that Greene was involved in an attempt to challenge the eligibility of Orange’s candidacy. The allegation was that Orange didn’t live in the appropriate district. Sabo also provided The Columbian with this information.

All of this controversy however, doesn’t impact Leavitt’s decision to back Greene as a candidate.

“I’m certain they have reasons they believe are important for the decisions that have been made,” Leavitt said. “Not being on the inside, I can’t really speak from an informed position.”

The tie appears to be causing Leavitt a little bit of pain though. He said since the video with Pike was published Tuesday there’s been a lot of emails and phone calls to City Hall about the issue.

Leavitt issued a lengthy response to his support as a result.

In regards to the candidates for this race, I believe that Kris Greene is highly qualified for serving in a decision-making role for the citizens of our community and the port district. I’ve been acquainted with Mr. Greene for over 10 years. How have I been acquainted with Mr. Greene? Through his active community involvement, having given of his time and talents to the Evergreen School District Foundation, the East Vancouver Business Association, and through his volunteerism on several city-led community stakeholder efforts and committees. I’ve found Mr. Greene to be thoughtful, reasoned, and compassionate. His track record of engagement and contributions to the betterment of SW Washington is unquestioned.

In regards to the campaign and the contributions to the campaigns, I am too surprised at the level of contributions…..for both candidates. That the stakeholders for Vancouver Energy have contributed the large amounts to Mr. Greene’s campaign is startling. But, they have “put their money where their mouth is” and in a transparent manner, given directly to his campaign. The alternative would be funding independent expenditures, which most agree is a less transparent method of campaigning for issues and candidates.

The amount of money raised by Mr. Orange’s campaign is also a bit startling. While not coming mostly from one source, the amount is still quite large for a race of this nature. It’s curious to me that some of the larger organizations (e.g., Washington Conservation Voters, Sierra Club, IAFF International) that I believe are or would be in agreement with Mr. Orange’s position have not (yet?) participated more financially. Pure speculation on my part, but perhaps their strategy is one of awaiting the EFSEC recommendation, and if affirmative for the project, the effort and expense is geared toward the Governor? Or, perhaps polling has been conducted and there is a feeling that no further monies should to be contributed to Mr. Orange’s campaign…because polling has shown that he will either win OR lose this election by a wide margin?

I have to ask those who support Mr. Orange and are upset with the amount of monies contributed by Vancouver Energy Stakeholders to Mr. Greene’s campaign: If an organization were to come in with a large or equivalent independent expenditure or a direct contribution to Mr. Orange’s campaign, would you be equally upset?

For some, this election has become a referendum on the proposed Vancouver Energy project, and are supporting the candidate who is in agreement with them. I understand the passion around this specific matter, but am troubled by such a line of thinking for a couple of reasons:

1) Port Commissioners are responsible, over the duration of a 6 year term, with making hundreds…if not thousands of important decisions about the direction and operations of the Port of Vancouver. I believe Mr. Greene is well-equipped to be effective for all of the responsibilities of a port commissioner.

2) The EFSEC process is state law and it is purposeful, laborious and necessary. The EFSEC process was created for numerous reasons, one of which is to insure that large infrastructure/energy projects have an exhaustive public process and thorough environmental analysis, with a final recommendation being presented to the Governor. That process, as I am to understand, is about to conclude and a recommendation to the Governor is imminent. The Applicant, the Stakeholders, the EFSEC Committee and thousands of citizens have invested extraordinary effort in participation in this process. Some appear to want to short-circuit this process, with the results of this election. I believe that to be entirely disrespectful to those who have engaged and expended many hours and monies in this state-law mandated effort. Mr. Greene has indicated that he will respect the outcome of the EFSEC process and recommendation to the Governor….whether the recommendation is to accept the proposal or reject the proposal. I respect that position. I have no reason to believe that the other sitting port commissioners feel otherwise.

Lastly, there has been some inquiry about my support of Mr. Greene versus the City’s official position on the proposed Vancouver Energy project. To be clear:

1) My personal support/endorsement for any candidate or any issue is completely distinct from the City’s official position. The same conditions and rights apply to any elected official, and it occurs on a routine basis.

2) In advertising used for support of Mr. Greene, my title as Mayor of the City of Vancouver is being utilized. Some are complaining that this is in some way a conflict of interest. Certainly that is not the case. I encourage those who have this misunderstanding to review any recent literature or advertising for any candidate or issue, and note the numerous supporting elected officials who are listed by name and position.

3) Further, as noted above, my support of Mr. Greene has nothing to do with his or his opponent’s position on the proposed Vancouver Energy project, although I do appreciate, as noted above, Mr. Greene’s position of respecting the process and the outcome.

Leavitt seems set to stand by his man.

Comments