BALANCE - PARTNERSHIP - VISION
ENVIRONMENT - The Port of Olympia is in a unique position to change the culture of our waterfront and the greater community. We are recipients of the world our parents and our grandparents left us. The knowledge we now possess is both a burden and a blessing. There is no doubt that previous generations subsisted as if resources were infinite, and consequences were minimal. They were living their best life in the world as they knew it. Yet, we now have the knowledge to understand the impacts several generations have had on the world around them. The point is that when we know better, we do better. So, we should not waste time pointing fingers and placing blame, but we should use the knowledge we have gained to treat our communities better.
The fact is that we cannot turn back the clock. However, we can be intelligent about the growth of our community going forward. There are two major examples that come to mind when thinking about how the port can impact the environment.
First, we must follow the recommendations of science when it comes to the future of Capitol Lake. As we get a clearer picture with the release of both the draft and final EIS from the Department of Ecology, we must think about how to do what is best for the environment and protect the existence of the living wage jobs people depend on at the port at the same time. One of the recommendations the EIS is meant to study is that of a hybrid estuary/lake model. This may be the most viable path to a port that is both environmentally and economically sustainable. The bottom-line is that we must commit to a plan so that we can fully understand the scope of the cleanup and move forward with reclaiming Budd Inlet and the surrounding area as a clean space for community, work, and recreation.
Secondly, there is the impact of the Marine Terminal and the operations surrounding that port asset. There are many reasons to maintain the operation of the marine terminal, not withstanding the clear hazards to the environment. This issue is about creating a culture of accountability. There are good and bad examples of development, and we should be rewarding the good and holding accountable the bad. We can have a port that is an economic multiplier for Thurston County, and do it in a sustainable manner. The port can invest in a central recycling center where local and small businesses can take their recyclables and receive credits to incentivize sustainable practices. We can attract more lines of business to the marine terminal that use an environmentally conscious business model and project responsibility. We can use port facilities to build our green energy future by manufacturing everything from solar panels to batteries right here in our community. And we can be purposeful about reducing our carbon footprint through transportation options to get people to the port including investments in simple and innovative clean transportation options to transport people from Downtown Olympia to the Port.
PROTECTING LIVING WAGE JOBS - There is no better way to put power in the hands of the working-class than through the tools and environment created by organized labor. Throughout American history unions have been the backbone of the working-class. Through unionization we have put more power in the hands of minorities, women, and the underserved. When we talk about equity and opportunity for all, it is hard not to imagine the impact unions have had on this mission. The Port of Olympia is fortunate to have the benefit of the hard-working members of ILWU Local 47. Their professionalism and dedication to the success of the port has attracted more than a fair share of business and economic opportunity to the Port of Olympia. We must do everything in our power to preserve these jobs and the thousands of residual jobs generated through the work of ILWU Local 47. Our port is a global contender because these dedicated individuals continue to work hard to keep it that way. We owe it to them that any decisions for development or growth at the port are viewed through the lens of how it will impact them.
PARTNERSHIPS - The Port of Olympia can be a partner for the people, cities, and stakeholders throughout our county and beyond. The port already is an economic driver for the county and contributes to municipal funding for infrastructure projects and more in various ways including the Small Cities Program that allows cities across South County (Yelm, Rainier, Tenino, etc.) to apply for grant assistance on specific projects. These innovative measures save taxpayers both frustration and money. I want to bolster the contributions the Port of Olympia makes to the greater Thurston community by growing the port economically and as a destination for community, jobs, and small/local business.
Transparency and communication are primary factors in making these plans successful and creating solid partnerships. I have heard reservations from some about how the port conducted the Panattoni deal in Tumwater and how the people of Tumwater, the city council, and others were not kept entirely in the loop on a project that will have both economic and environmental impacts on their community. I cannot personally attest to the details of how that deal has been conducted or whether there was a lack of transparency. However, if elected, I will seek to strengthen relationships with our partners on city councils, on the county commission, at the legislature, and most of all with the people and neighbors in our community. The port must be intentional about informing the public and fostering good relationships throughout the county, state, and the world.
The Port of Olympia’s central location makes it a critical player in the event of a disaster or major emergency. In the case of such emergencies as a volcanic eruption or an earthquake resulting in the blockage of highway transportation services, the port becomes a key source for the transportation of cargo, people, and emergency supplies. The Port has assets like the Harbor Patrol and an Emergency Response Vessel that could prove key to logistical operations in coordination with Thurston County Emergency Management strategy concerning disaster response. The Port has played a major role in past training and preparedness exercises concerning such potentially catastrophic disaster scenarios and should continue to do so.
21st Century Vision – It is time to be purposeful and innovative about the culture we create at the port. We can look to both the successful history of port operations and think outside the box when working to grow our port. The important thing is that in Thurston County we get our piece of the pie. Vision 2050 estimates that the Puget Sound region will see an influx of an estimated 5.8 million people by 2050. We can either build a port that is an opportunity for jobs, local and small business, and community so that we generate revenue and grow the Thurston County economy, or we can be a bedroom community for Pierce and King counties. I hope that we decide to do the former.
The first example of looking to the past to redesign the future could happen at the Olympia airport. Just over 30 years ago, commuter flights took state workers and others to places around the state. We could have this again. I would like to look at returning commuter service to the airport and one day being able to fly people to other small airports around the state and elsewhere for work and recreation. Not only could this bring the benefit of convenience to several local communities, but it could be a win for the environment as we work to reduce the number of cars on I-5.
Secondly, I would like to explore creating a small electrified ferry service to run from our port to places like Tacoma, Bremerton, and maybe even Seattle. Multimodal transportation options like this both relieve the stress for those driving in traffic on I-5 and help reduce emissions to combat climate change. The ferries have an attractive tourism element as well. And the infrastructure projects involved in making this happen could create good union jobs.
The opportunities for our port are vast. We just have to have the vision to see it.