Port race will focus on oil shipments

Filing for upcoming local elections began Monday morning, and most positions only have one candidate — the incumbent. But a countywide port commission race promises more excitement, with oil shipments likely to be the centerpiece of the campaign.

As promised, Port Commission incumbent Chuck Caldwell of Montesano filed for re-election Monday morning. Caldwell has served on the commission since 2002. Also filing was Elma resident Ron Figlar-Barnes, who works as an environmental coordinator for the Skokomish Tribe in Mason County.

Figlar-Barnes said he’s running in an attempt to stop the development of three separate proposals by private companies to ship crude oil to the Port by rail and store it at terminals in Hoquiam. He criticized Caldwell’s support of the project, calling it “irresponsible.”

“It just takes one accident to ruin habitat in Grays Harbor,” Figlar-Barnes said. “I care a great deal for the Harbor — it’s a great place to live. And I don’t want to see that ruined.”

Caldwell said his support of the crude by rail won’t hurt Grays Harbor — he’ll only support the projects if they’re approved by the proper government agencies.

“I don’t have the expertise to say whether it’s safe or not,” Caldwell said. “But if the regulatory agencies give the OK, I think it would be good for the economy.”

Westway Terminals, Imperium Renewables and U.S. Development all hope to have crude oil delivered to Grays Harbor by train, and shipped out by barge. Westway and Imperium already own and operate facilities at the Port, and are planning to expand to accommodate crude oil. U.S. Development plans to build a new facility.

If Figlar-Barnes’ name is familiar it may be because of publicity his teenage son has received. Jared Figlar-Barnes has received considerable attention for salmon habitat restoration work on McDonald Creek in East County.

Sheriff Rick Scott was the first candidate to file in Grays Harbor County, and so far he’s the only person running to complete former Sheriff Mike Whelan’s term. Whelan retired in October, 2012.

Many of the positions haven’t drawn any candidates yet.

On the first day of filing, no one filed for positions on the Hoquiam City Council or the Aberdeen School Board. Filing continues through May 17.

The following candidates also filed:

Aberdeen City Council:

Ward one, position two: incumbent John Smith

Ward two, position four: incumbent Alice Phelps

Ward three, position five: incumbent Tim Alstrom

Ward five, position 10: incumbent John Erak

Elma City Council:

Position three: incumbent Tom Boling

Montesano City Council:

Position one: incumbent Chris Hutchings

Position three: incumbent Pat Herrington

Ocean Shores City Council:

Position one: incumbent John Lynn

Hoquiam School Board:

Position four: incumbent Chris Eide