The Port of Vancouver District 1 election race between Don Orange and Kris Greene was seen by many as a referendum on the Vancouver Energy rail-to-marine oil terminal proposed to be built at the port.
If election results on a precinct-by-precinct basis are any indication, voters cast their ballots with that referendum in mind.
Canceling the port’s lease with Vancouver Energy was a central pillar to Orange’s campaign. Greene’s campaign sought to look beyond the terminal. He never took a public stance beyond supporting the state’s evaluation process and the outcome it would produce. However, he had well-documented ties with the company before becoming a candidate and received the majority of his campaign funds from Vancouver Energy and its supporters.
All told, 174 precincts participated in the election, but precinct 620 was combined with 624 and precinct 570 was combined with 571 by the Clark County elections office to protect voter privacy.
Orange won the election, capturing just over 64.6 percent of the 52,937 votes cast. Orange won in all but eight precincts — four of which were combined into two precincts — but his greatest margins were those nearest the port itself and the train tracks on which the oil would be transported should the terminal be built. In the 12 precincts that include the port and the train tracks, Orange won at least 63.7 percent of the vote. In Precinct 112, which is north of the port and borders the train tracks, Orange captured 85.1 percent of the vote — the largest percentage he captured in the entire district.
Orange’s strongest showing was in precinct 100 where he captured 526 votes to Greene’s 92.
The precincts where Greene won are at the margins of the port district, almost all were the farthest from the port itself and among the farthest from the train tracks. Looking at raw numbers, where Greene won, it was still a tight race. Greene had his strongest showing in consolidated precincts 570 and 571 where he won by 10 votes. In precincts 959, he won by six. In the remaining four districts, he won by four or fewer votes.
The race between Orange and Greene saw an unprecedented amount of money poured into a local election. Campaign contributions for the two candidates topped $1 million, the majority of which came from special interest groups on their side of the oil terminal issue.
Yet, even in this highly financed and hotly contested election, voter turnout was dismal. Slightly more than 31 percent of the electorate participated.