Controversial Woodland port commissioner advances past primary

By Tyler Graf, Columbian county government reporter

Published:

 

A quarrelsome primary race for the Port of Woodland District 2 commissioner position ended with board’s the longest-serving member advancing despite a coordinated effort to unseat him.

In a field of three, Commissioner Jerry Peterson received 112 votes, or 34.15 percent, following the first round of Tuesday night’s primary returns, falling just behind J.J. Burke, who received 127 votes, or 38.72 percent.

Peterson was the subject of a series of unflattering direct-mail fliers financed by Joerg Bleeck, owner of Columbia River Carbonates. The fliers allege that Peterson, through his work on the port, was instrumental in selling a swatch of land for below market value.

The conflict between Bleeck’s company and the port has been tied up in the court system. In May, a Cowlitz County Superior Court judge dismissed the company’s lawsuit. The company is appealing that decision

The night’s winner, Burke, is a sitting city councilman who chose not to run for re-election in favor of vying for port commissioner.

Peterson and Burke will go head-to-head in the Nov. 5 general election.