David Madore files for Vancouver port position

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photoDavid Madore is a candidate for the Port of Vancouver's District 1 position.

(/The Columbian)

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David Madore, owner of US Digital in east Vancouver and founder of NoTolls.com, wants a seat on the elected three-member board that runs the Port of Vancouver.

Madore filed paperwork Friday for the port’s District 1 position, challenging incumbent Commissioner Brian Wolfe. Wolfe, who currently serves as the port board’s president, is running for a second six-year term.

Madore said Friday that his desire to bring smarter planning to the region’s infrastructure, including roads, bridges, rail and the river, underpinned his decision to run.

“Transportation infrastructure is like a circulatory system,” and is critical to the shipment of freight and the operating of the economy, he said. He also emphasized his opposition to tolls.

Madore is a deep-pocketed businessman who has put his own cash behind politicians, nonprofit service groups and business startups in recent years, but he said that he has not yet decided how much money to put into the upcoming race.

Asked why he’s running against Wolfe, Madore responded: “We have a status quo person who’s been in there many years, running unopposed. It would be much better for people to have a choice.”

Wolfe, whose current term expires Dec. 31, 2011, said Madore and his supporters “are serious about their no-tolls stance” in opposition to the proposed Interstate 5 bridge. “I respect them for that. I can’t take that away from them.” However, he said, he doesn’t agree with them. The proposed Interstate 5 bridge needs to be built for good reasons, Wolfe said, including that it will speed freight to and from the Port of Vancouver.

Critic of new bridge

Madore is a staunch critic of the proposed Interstate 5 bridge. He founded NoTolls.com, a political action group that opposes light rail and tolls. He and NoTolls.com gave $173,715 in direct and in-kind contributions to 10 Republican and nonpartisan candidates in the run-up to the November 2010 election.

Instead of replacing the I-5 bridge, Madore said that he would like to see a new Columbia River bridge built at 192nd Avenue, connecting state Highway 14 to Portland’s Marine Drive, Airport Way, Sandy Boulevard and Interstate 84, according to information he has posted on The Columbian’s website. He advocates for changes to a rail bridge west of the current I-5 crossing that would allow more ships to navigate the two bridges without needing a bridge lift.

Wolfe said it’s important to keep the tolls “as low as we can,” but, he warned, “No tolls won’t get the bridge built.”

Wolfe and Madore will face off in the Nov. 8 general election.

They will compete for a position on a board that decides a roughly $58 million budget covering everything from rail and marine operations to information technology and environmental cleanup projects. The port is a governing and taxing district covering 111 square miles and encompassing 300,000 property owners.

The contest over one of its board seats also comes at a busy time for the port, which is expanding its rail operations, preparing for Farwest Steel to build a new facility, and negotiating with Australian mining giant BHP Billiton to construct an export operation to handle potash.

The port’s District 1 position encompasses east Vancouver and the Orchards area. It’s the only position on the port’s board that is open for election this year. Port of Vancouver commissioners receive $500 a month and, on top of that, $104 for each day they conduct port business. However, the total amount cannot exceed $12,535 in a year. Commissioners also receive medical, dental and vision benefits.

Wolfe announced in May that he would seek re-election to the Port of Vancouver board.

Of his campaign against Madore, he said: “I’m looking forward to the debates.”

Courtney Sherwood contributed to this story.