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Monday, October 2, 2023
Oct. 2, 2023

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Vancouver port candidates differ on oil terminal proposal

LaBrant, Seifert agree growth, Terminal 1 development key

By , Columbian Innovation Editor

Greg Seifert and incumbent Eric LaBrant are both running for the Port of Vancouver Commission District 2’s six-year term at a time when the port is seeing record revenue and Terminal 1 is under development, but also when climate change and Vancouver Lake’s degradation have become more pressing issues.

In a recent joint interview with The Columbian’s Editorial Board, the candidates staked out similar policy positions. Their biggest differences are in their professional backgrounds and viewpoints on the Port of Vancouver’s turbulent history with an oil terminal; LaBrant was adamantly against the terminal and Seifert said he never took a firm position but he “thought it should have moved forward” for economic reasons.

LaBrant, who’s held the elected office since 2016, said he wants to ensure continued “safe and sustainable” growth of the port, which owns and leases commercial, industrial and warehouse space and ocean shipping terminals.

Seifert largely agreed with LaBrant on the port’s economic growth but wants to see more proactive Port of Vancouver commissioners, where he sees a “leadership vacuum.” Seifert said his experience as president of Biggs Insurance for 10 years, managing 50 employees and serving on many boards in Clark County, gives him the desire to be a leader on the board.

One of the port’s current projects involves redeveloping Terminal 1, which includes the old Red Lion Hotel at the Quay and the surrounding area bounded by the Interstate 5 Bridge, the BNSF Railway berm, and The Waterfront Vancouver development.

Seifert wants to see redevelopment happen faster, but both candidates said they’re excited about the projects, which include the AC Hotel by Marriott and two office/mixed-use buildings. ZoomInfo announced it is moving its headquarters into one of the office buildings in 2025.

“I’d like to see it happen sooner,” Seifert said. “I don’t know if there’s anything I’d do differently.”

LaBrant said he’s looking to take advantage of any grant opportunities for Terminal 1 and a public market that the port envisions for the space. LaBrant said that the typical meals at The Waterfront are too costly, and he’d like more affordable and more international food from local restaurateurs at the port’s development of Terminal 1.

Although it’s too early to see if it would pencil out, LaBrant said he’d like to see the market as diverse as the Fourth Plain Boulevard’s International District.

“It would be a tremendous draw from a tourism standpoint,” he said.

Neither candidate discussed the possibility of a new Interstate 5 Bridge in much depth. If built, it would probably run on or near port property.

Vancouver Lake is perhaps one of the larger issues that the Port of Vancouver faces. Both candidates agreed that there’s no easy fix; the multiple government agencies that control different parts and aspects of the lake cause a lack of responsibility for the lake’s poor water flow, polluted water and overgrowing weeds.

Seifert said he’d work more closely with the Friends of Vancouver Lake group, and LaBrant said he’d look into the idea of floating wetlands in the lake and also consider hiring a hydrology consultant to examine the water flow.

LaBrant said he’d ensure that any plans or contracts involving the port would consider climate impact.

As of Monday evening, LaBrant had raised $13,584.66 in cash contributions.

Among donors who gave more than $1,000 were the Washington State Democratic Party, the Vancouver firefighters union Local 452, Don Orange, Henry Schuck and Deidre Cronenbold.

Seifert on Monday had raised $25,899.86 in cash contributions. The top donors that gave more than $2,000 include himself, Vaulterra Investment Group, Marion Cassidy, David Nierenberg, Mark Hinton and Clyde Holland.