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Oct. 15, 2021

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Donors weigh in on port commissioner race

Two candidates differ on proposed oil terminal; Tesoro backs Kris Greene

By , Columbian staff writer
2 Photos
Don Orange, candidate for Port of Vancouver commissioner
Don Orange, candidate for Port of Vancouver commissioner Photo Gallery

The battle lines have been drawn in the proxy war over the proposed Vancouver Energy oil terminal that is the Port of Vancouver Commissioner District 1 election, and the oil money has chosen a side.

Tesoro Corp., one of the companies behind Vancouver Energy, has donated $5,000 to candidate Kris Greene, making the company his second-largest cash contributor, according to the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission’s website.

About a month ago, the other candidate, Don Orange, challenged Greene not to take any contributions from oil companies. Greene said he wasn’t aware of it until someone else brought it to his attention.

“In any case, Tesoro has been at the port for over 35 years. They’re a local business. … They’ve done a lot of good in the community,” Greene said.

Although Greene accepted the contribution, Orange said he still won’t.

“Very clearly, we share very different visions for the future of Vancouver … Clearly my opponent sees one of the biggest, actually the biggest, oil terminal of its kind in North America next to downtown as our future and I don’t,” he said.

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Greene also received a $500 contribution from BNSF Railway, which would transfer crude oil to the proposed terminal.

If built, the terminal would be the largest in the U.S., capable of handling an average of 360,000 barrels of oil per day. Crude oil would arrive by train, pumped into tanks and stored, and then transferred to ships and barges that would journey down the Columbia River to distant refineries.

In the past, Greene said he supports the project, so long as it can be done safely. He authored a supportive post on Vancouver Energy’s website.

Greene also served on the company’s Community Fund Advisory Board, which helps the company’s charitable arm identify community grant recipients, although he stepped down prior to starting his campaign.

Orange is an outspoken critic of the port’s decision to enter into a lease with Vancouver Energy and of the terminal itself. He was also a driving force behind Vancouver 101, a campaign by some of the city’s small businesses that opposed the terminal.

To date, Greene has received $29,579 in cash contributions, about 30 percent of which has come from businesses. All but two donations came from donors giving $2,000 or less.

Greene’s largest cash contribution, $5,250, came from Clyde Holland — a Vancouver real estate developer who is a frequent contributor to Republican and conservative causes and campaigns.

Greene also has received $12,172 in in-kind donations — $10,400 of which were from Robert Sabo, a friend and his campaign strategist who is handling his website and other online products.

Orange, meanwhile, has taken in $38,560 in cash — all but about $3,500 of which has come from individual donors — and $100 in-kind donations.

Both candidates have received financial support from unions.

Greene has taken $1,000 from the Southwest Washington Electricians Local 48 Political Action Committee, $500 from the Southwest Washington Central Labor Council and $400 from the Pacific Northwest Regional Council Of Carpenters.

Orange received $1,000 from the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 452 and $1,000 from the International Longshore and Warehouse Unions, Local 4.

Incumbent District 1 Commissioner Brian Wolfe is not seeking re-election.

Orange and Greene are not included in the August primary election because they are the only candidates vying for Wolfe’s seat.

Columbian staff writer