Controversy over the future of Tacoma’s port is drawing attention as a top issue for voters this year.
It’s also drawing their dollars.
Individuals and political action committees have donated more cash in support of Tacoma Port of Commission candidates this year than any Tacoma port election in the past 10 years.
PACs have donated more than $38,000 to election campaigns this year, compared to $20,000 during the last port election in 2017 and $700 in 2009, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.
The amount donated by individuals has tripled in the last decade. Individual donors have shelled out $136,000 for this year’s candidates so far, compared to $42,000 in 2009.
The four candidates vying for two open port seats in the November election have raised about $150,000 as of this month, edging toward the $160,000 raised by six candidates vying for three open port seats in 2017.
Deanna Keller, candidate for the Position 3, has raised the most money so far at $57,817.40. She’s spent $43,047.08.
Her opponent, Frank Boykin, has raised $25,993.89 and spent $16,415.26.
For Position 5, candidate Kristin Ang came out of the August primary with a 3 percent lead over her opponent, Dave Bryant, despite drawing in more than five times the amount of donations. Ang has raised $56,634.63 and spent $26,311.38. Bryant has raised $8,857 and spent $250.
Puget Sound Energy’s liquid natural gas plant project is the subject of many public comments at both Tacoma City Council and Port of Tacoma Commission meetings.
Tacoma City Council heard testimony from 40 people this month related to the Tideflats Interim Regulations, which were passed in 2017 and put a pause on some expansion at the port. Many at the meeting asked the council to further prevent expansion of fossil fuel sites, citing health concerns.
In July, Port candidates shared where they stood on the LNG plant. Boykin, Bryant and Keller all showed support for the project, while Ang voiced opposition.
A good chunk of Keller’s donations come from businesses and PACs, including $4,000 from the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association Washington State PAC. Many unions also contribute financially to her campaign: Tacoma Longshoremen Credit Union ($1,000), Tacoma Professional Firefighters Union Local 31 ($500), Laborers International Union ($200) and East Pierce Firefighters Local 3520 ($250).
The majority of Boykin’s donors are individuals, but include some familiar names: former Tacoma mayor Harold Moss ($50), longtime educator Willie Stewart ($200), Rep. Jake Fey ($200), Tacoma developer Holland Cohen ($950) and Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney Mary Robnett ($250).
For the Position 5 seat, candidate Kristin Ang’s donors stand out among the rest, with many environmentally conscious supporters laying down cash. Ang’s the only candidate that received a donation from the Puyallup Tribe, totaling $4,000. The Washington Conservation Action Fund donated $1,000. Ang’s also received financial support from local government officials, including Tacoma City Council member Lillian Hunter ($50) and Pierce County Council member Marty Cambell ($125).
By contrast, Bryant has the financial support of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association Washington State PAC ($2,000), Trucking Action Committee ($500), the Virginia Taylor 27th District Republican Club ($200) and Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier ($100).
Kristin Ang, Port of Tacoma Commission Position 5
▪ Total: $56,634.63
▪ Top contributors: Washington State Democrats ($4,320.82 in-kind), Jessy Ang Sr. ($4,000), Puyallup Tribe of Indians ($4,000)
Dave Bryant, Port of Tacoma Commission Position 5
▪ Total: $8,857.00
▪ Top contributors: Steve Gordon ($2,000), Pacific Merchant Shipping Association Washington State PAC ($2,000), Gene Pritz-Kopelson ($1,500)
Frank Boykin, Port of Tacoma Commission Position 3
▪ Total: $25,993.89
▪ Top contributors: Washington State Democrats ($4,320.70, in-kind), Carolyn Lee ($2,000), Frank Boykin ($2,000)
Deanna Keller, Port of Tacoma Commission Position 3
▪ Total: $57,817.40
▪ Top contributors: Washington State Democrats ($4,326.96, in-kind), Deanna Keller ($4,100), Corey McFarland ($4,000)