Let’s Talk: Orange, Greene discuss oil terminal, Waterfront Development and more

Learn more about the Port of Vancouver District One Commissioner candidates

Port of Vancouver
Port development rendering courtesy Port of Vancouver USA

Kris GreeneKRIS GREENE candidate for Port of Vancouver commissioner

Q: Tell me about your personal business experience.

A: “I’ve got almost 25 years, a little less than that, in the risk management/insurance business. I would probably say I have over 4,000 hours of training in business management, insurance and risk management. I don’t have a formal college degree, but every year I take usually about 60-80 hours of continuing education, and that’s to keep on top of my game. I’ve been in restaurant management previous to my insurance experience, so I know a lot about retail business and human resources.”

Q: How have you been involved with the business community here in Clark County?

A: “I ran the East Vancouver Business Association, I was the president of that organization for nine years and I’m currently their governmental affairs director, and I ran the Evergreen School District Foundation for four years. Both of those organizations, when I took them over, were failing and dying. I turned them both around. Now, the East Vancouver Business Association, we have about 150-160 members, we raise anywhere from $10,000-$17,000 a year for just scholarships, we’ve done that for 16 years and have raised over $160,000 in scholarships. We’re the only business association, or association like it, that has a scholarships program. I’ve been active with the Chamber of Commerce, I’ve sat on several city committees and commissions over the years.”

Q: If elected as a commissioner, how do you plan to continue to help the port achieve its mission and work towards its vision and goals?

A: “That’s the job of a commissioner, to follow those Port missions and standards, and I’m looking at a multitude of issues that we have down at the Port. We have Terminal 1 going on, we have opportunity to development more property and to bring in more tenants.”

“The other areas of the Port’s mission, being good stewards of their money, taking a look at the budget. Their budget is roughly $39 million a year and right now they’re doing a lot of infrastructure building and repair work throughout the port, and they’ve taken some money out of their maintenance budget to do some of the work. I have a concern with that because in my experience, when you take money out of a maintenance program, things break down and they don’t get repaired and then it’s more costly to correct the situation. Looking at those things and having a voice in that is going to be important. Another area that I believe we could have a major impact is the educational opportunities that we have down at the Port.”

Q: Environmental values: The Port of Vancouver has stated that it firmly believes that environmental stewardship and economic development can coexist. If elected, how do you plan to continue to make this a top priority?

A: “Not only is it a local issue, but it’s also a state issue. Our Legislature in 1970 enacted the EFSEC Council. If you take a look at the makeup of who’s on there today, you’ll find that four out of the five of them are engineers, they have the expertise in determining the safety of any energy facility, whether it’s wind, solar, seaweed, or oil or fossil fuels. I’m not a professional scientist, I’m not an engineer, none of the commissioners are, my opponent isn’t either. It’s incumbent of a commissioner to take all the information from the public, from environmental groups, from EFSEC, and let them do their jobs and let them make the recommendation of how safe. And they’ll come back and say it’s either going to be a safe opportunity and recommend that to the governor or they’re going to come back and say it’s not a safe opportunity and make that recommendation to the governor and I’m fine with that.”

“If we didn’t have EFSEC or any scientists and engineers weighing in on this and we only listened to all the sensational news articles, or we just listened to the oil companies, I would probably not agree to do this terminal. But because we have EFSEC and because we have professionals weighing in on this, if they say it’s safe then, by golly, we need to do this because it’s incumbent of a commissioner to support a safe project that can bring a lot of prosperity to our community. But if they come back and say no, then we have to find out another way to keep the Port running and growing, and we are, I am.”

Q: What is your stance on the oil terminal?

A: “We’re a country and community of laws, and if we don’t follow those laws and rules that we put into place, we’ll get unintended consequences. So, I believe that for my community, we need to let the process play out and not stop it because if we stop it, we send a bad message, a poor message to every other industry that wants to come to this area or anywhere in the state of Washington that we really don’t play fair. The company has made an application to have the terminal built, they have to pay all of the expenses of EFSEC, we’re probably talking $3 million a year, and they’re paying for the land that they can’t even build on yet, they’re paying another $1.2 million a year. That’s $15-$20 million that they’ve already spent.”

“They’re a local company, they’ve been here for over 35 years operating a vital terminal that feeds the gasoline needs of our community all the way up to eastern Washington and eastern Oregon. They have operated that terminal without an issue, not one accident, not one spill for 35 years. They’ve pumped tens of millions of dollars into our local economy, and they’ve hired more than 1,000 family wage jobs over the years. We owe it to them to make sure that we keep our decision processes clean and clear and true to our word. I say let them do their job. If they come back and say yes, that the terminal is going to be safe, I say let’s move forward with it. But if they come back and say no, then we should not do it. If it’s not going to be safe enough to protect our environment – our river, our air quality, our water quality – of course, why would I want that? That’s my stance on the terminal. Let the process play out and let’s see what they say.”

Q: You received a couple of large donations from Vancouver Energy. Will the fact that you received money from Vancouver Energy influence your decision regarding the oil terminal?

A: “No, it’s not. I live in this community, I’ve developed a lot of relationships in this community. I’m not going to be in a position where my trust is going to be swayed. The only thing that we have in common is completing the process. If they say no, then it’s a no and we move on. That to me is an integrity issue and again I think we need to do the right thing by that. The unfortunate thing in today’s day and age, campaigns are very expensive and they don’t discount postage down at the U.S. Postal office. I can’t rely on the newspapers to get my message out and I can’t rely on the TV to get my message out, I have to get the message out. I have to figure out a way to get my message out, and I welcome all of my supporters, I welcome all of my donors to help me get the message out and it’s going to be a fair message.”

“I wanted to let everybody know that I’m transparent, I’m upfront, I didn’t hold back and wait until the last minute. I wanted that money, I asked for the money, just like every donor. That doesn’t mean that I’m in ‘big oil’s’ pocket, it’s a local company, they’ve been here for 35 years, of course they want to expand their operation, because not only do we make money as a community and as a Port, but they also make money and that’s the goal of business, isn’t it?”

Q: If the Port does decide to terminate the terminal lease, how do you plan to make up for that lost revenue and bring in additional jobs to the Port?

A: “Like I’ve said, I’ve already started talking with the tenants down there. Tidewater is very interested in expanding their operation and utilizing that track, so is United Grain. United Grain is a great company, one of the oldest tenants down at the Port … It’s a great question because it comes down to, how are the commissioners going to communicate better with our tenants and better with the prospective tenants? With my background, I love the ability to be able to talk to people, on both sides of any issue and I’m always available to do that.”

Q: If the terminal is built, what will that mean in direct and indirect employment locally, what will it return to the Port and how will those payments be invested?

A: “That’s kind of like putting together a dream, best of all worlds. So, if they come back and say it’s safe and they build it and it’s safe, I’ve read the lease and the net income coming into the Port is about $7 million a year. That will allow us to invest in developing other properties on and off of Port property. That would accelerate our opportunity, our ability, to do so. The Port will see an increase in jobs of about 150-175 from the terminal itself, all family-wage jobs. The construction side of things is estimated to bring in 800-1,000 temporary jobs. If we’re able to build, say we build 100,000 or a million or 2 million square feet of manufacturing, light manufacturing, high-tech, green jobs, you’re looking at 3,000, 4,000 family-wage jobs. So, that’s what that means to the Port. It’s a 50-year contract … $7 million over 50 years, that’s a lot. That’s a lot of money to be pumped into our community.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the Waterfront Development project? How will this development help the Port in accomplishing its vision, mission and goals?

A: “It’s going to be a beautiful destination. We’ll have retail, restaurants on the Waterfront, Warehouse 23 currently will be redone completely over the next six years, there will be more of a public marketplace, it’s going to be a destination. People are going to want to come here. What is the biggest issue for me? Parking. It’s going to be a major issue, and if you take a look at the plans, they’re really only providing about 40 percent of the total parking. I’ve proposed that we build two large parking structures on the north side and south side of the rail berm, just west of I-5. The Port can partner with the city and build those structures and provide up to 800 additional parking stalls. It’s an expensive venture, but if we don’t do it now – 5, 10, 20 years down the road – what is it going to look like if we don’t have enough parking down there? Just talking about safety, instead of having apartment buildings or condos or office buildings next to those rail berms, let’s put those parking structures there as a safety corridor. Doesn’t that make sense?”

Q: Where do you stand on the replacement of the I-5 bridge? If elected, will this issue continue to be one of your top priorities?

A: “Obviously, that bridge needs to be replaced. It’s an old bridge, the lift is not good for commerce. I also think we need to build a third and fourth bridge. The debate is replacing the bridge and then building a third bridge. I don’t know if that’s really a smart move. We could have that major earthquake tomorrow, and if we had built a third bridge that’s earthquake resistent, that would’ve been a smart move.”

Don OrangeDON ORANGE candidate for Port of Vancouver commissioner

Q: Tell me about your personal business experience.

A: “I’ve been in small business my entire life. The last 14 years I’ve had an auto repair shop in Vancouver, Hoesly Eco Automotive, I acquired it in October of 2008. Hoesly has been around since 1946, he came home from the war and opened the business. I started doing business with him in the 70s. I think it’s probably the longest-running automotive shop in the county. I bought it from his grandson, Jason.”

Q: How have you been involved with the business community here in Clark County?

A: “I’ve served a lot of businesses doing this (working at the automotive business), but we’re also a member of the Uptown business group. And we’ve been involved mentoring people, working with the school district, Battle Ground School District. Battle Ground and Prairie high schools are the only ones with solid automotive programs and we’ve worked with them for years. I’m the president of the auto advisory group. Through that I’ve met the folks out there, and I’ve actually hired a couple of their students and they’ve done very well getting going on their career. I’m absolutely in favor of trying to help folks move into the trades.”

Q: If elected as a commissioner, how do you plan to continue to help the port achieve its mission and work towards its vision and goals?

A: “In the question is what does that vision mean? I think my own view is that we need to be doing everything possible to build and develop 21st century jobs. This is in advanced manufacturing, this is in the computer sciences, this is also metal and machinery. The terminal that is under discussion is an awesome facility with great rail access, it’s right next to the water and can be used, and we need to be working with the state department of commerce, with the city, with the county to do the best that we can to find the best tenants there to work at family wage jobs and things that do not threaten the community, that are beneficial to Vancouver. Vancouver is one of the best places in the United States to live and we need more jobs to keep our people from having to go across the river.”

“The Port needs to move straight ahead. The Port has the authority to build outside of the Port and I’ve endorsed this out along the Chelatchie Prairie Railroad. Really what I’m talking about is the portions of that railroad track that are within the Port district that have already been designated as light industrial. There’s also industrial land on the east side of 205. The benefit to developing and driving these things, 1) it will cause people to stay in Vancouver and work, and 2) from a tax perspective when you build a million dollar facility, the property taxes go to help with our schools without sending more kids to our schools.”

Q: Environmental values: The Port of Vancouver has stated that it firmly believes that environmental stewardship and economic development can coexist. If elected, how do you plan to continue to make this a top priority?

A: “I think the elephant in the room that we’re not discussing is the oil terminal. It’s worth saying that the oil terminal was not part of the industries that we talked about as being great for the future of Vancouver, this is not something that the Port puts on the front or second page of their marketing, it’s in the back. The oil terminal is an embarrassment and a danger to the environmental values we’re talking about. Right next door to the port, we have probably the biggest development I’ve ever seen in Clark County that is employing thousands of people and will employ thousands of people, the Waterfront Development. Running hundreds of oil tankers by there daily challenges that facility’s appeal. Running 175,000 oil trains a year down the Columbia Gorge across east Vancouver at speeds that are dangerous with an oil tanker is not environmentally friendly in any way.”

Q: What is your stance on the proposed oil terminal?

A: “I believe that the oil terminal will impede economic development. The small businesses that have come out strongly against this consider it a threat to their businesses. The safety issue is absolutely huge. I was asked yesterday to speculate on what I thought that putting an oil terminal would do to real estate values in west Vancouver. I am not a speculator, but I do not know of turning a place into an oil town and having it drive property values up. I would expect that it would not be positive for property values.”

“There are hazardous materials used at the port. What we’re talking about with this oil terminal is having the biggest oil terminal of its kind in all of North America. There’s more oil – this is explosive oil – this is not what we think of as tar or black crude, this is Bakken crude, which the firefighters consider a good deal like gasoline. The volume that we’re talking about is more than what’s used in every car and truck in Washington and Oregon. This is a monster. There’s a very good reason that the firefighters are opposed to this. They will tell you that their only option is to evacuate people. Our first responders know what they’re talking about and deserve to be listened to. When these people tell you ‘this will not work, this is not safe,’ we don’t need to go to a higher authority, we need to listen to our own fire departments, to our own firefighters. The Port has been told many times that this is not a good proposition.”

Q: How do you feel it looks to the voters that you received contributions from several organizations that are against the oil terminal? Do you think this will affect how people vote?

A: “I think that the voters in Vancouver, I think that people do not think that this is a good thing for our future. I haven’t indicated that I’m not anti terminal. The people that are supporting my candidacy want transparency and democracy at the Port. They do not want the biggest oil terminal in North America. My point is, when we put up a sign that says ‘Welcome to Vancouver, Washington,’ it does not say, ‘Site of the biggest oil … biggest rail to marine oil terminal in the country.’ We do not have an oil company financing our campaign.”

Q: If the Port does decide to terminate the terminal lease, how do you plan to make up for that lost revenue and bring in additional jobs to the Port?

A: “In the future, if I’m elected, we will not enter into back room deals with tenants. This was a deal entered into without the public’s knowledge. When the city council found out about it they asked us not to do it. The neighbors didn’t know about it. This is not a way to do business, the Supreme Court has said it was wrong. The only way we found out what was in this lease was that citizens sued and won in court, and our tax dollars were used to pay off not only legal fees, but penalties because we were making deals behind closed doors improperly. We won’t do that. This Port belongs to the people of the port district, the voters, the taxpayers. This transparency is critical. I would point out that my support is very wide and some of it is from -a great deal of it is from – the business community that wants the best for the future of Vancouver and don’t feel that the best is served in a non-transparent deal.”

Q: If the terminal is built, what will that mean in direct and indirect employment locally, what will it return to the Port and how will those payments be invested?

A: “If the terminal is built, it will presumably repel clean industry. We’re told by the oil company that their planned employment number is somewhere between 72 and 176 full-time or full-time-equivalent positions. Will this discourage computer companies from coming to town? Clean energy companies from coming to town? Microsoft and various other companies like that are not locating in oil towns. Will it degrade what Vancouver is and change what Vancouver is forever? Yes. Will it cost us jobs? I think it will. The businesses that have come out the most strongly against it are downwind of it. Will we be trading one job gain for 10 jobs lost? I think so.”

Q: What are your thoughts on the Waterfront Development project? How will this development help the Port in accomplishing its vision, mission and goals?

A: “There are two separate Waterfront developments. The Gramor development, it’s roughy 35 acres. The other one is the Port’s development, which is roughly 10 acres. I think it will be a welcoming thing, bring the river to the people. I think people want to be down on the river. It will increase density. There will be some challenges. Quite frankly I expect there will be, there’s office complexes, there’s motels, condos, restaurants, all of which is good for jobs, good for all of it. At the same time, critically important is industrial jobs, blue collar jobs. One of the things that the Port had hoped to bring to the Port a couple of years ago was biotech firms. The Waterfront Development is a beautiful thing and it will be kind of a welcome to our city. I believe that a Port’s responsibility is to provide jobs that will employ large numbers of people, family-wage jobs … Manufacturing jobs have a tendency to drive other segments of the economy, and they also will have a tendency to keep some of our people home working in Vancouver.”

Q: Where do you stand on the replacement of the I-5 bridge? If elected, will this issue continue to be one of your top priorities?

A: It absolutely needs to be replaced. It is overdue. It’s important to the Port. We’re due to have an earthquake that could take that bridge out, that bridge is, when I use it it’s constantly clogged. It absolutely has to be done.

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