Port Commission okays election to approve adding 2 commissioners


The Port of Olympia Commission passed a resolution yesterday approving a ballot measure at this year’s General Election, set for November 8, so voters can decide whether to increase the number of port commissioners from three to five.

This is parallel to a decision made last week by the Board of County Commissioners that would enlarge its body to five members.

The latest data shows that the population of Thurston County has reached 300,500 which, pursuant to the Revised Code of Washington 36.32, allows the county to vote on whether they should add two more commissioners.

The additional commissioner with the highest number of votes will be granted a four-year term, while the other additional commissioner will have a two-year term and may run again for a four-year term, according to documents prepared for the port commission meeting by port staff.

In conjunction with the resolution, the Port Commission also agreed to a memorandum of understanding with the Thurston County Board of County Commissioners to implement a joint resolution drawing the boundaries of new districts. 

The five new districts must be formed by January 1, 2023, with re-districting efforts set to begin by July or August. A three-member drawing committee will be formed composed of the chair of the County Commission, the president of the Port Commission, and the county auditor, serving as a non-voting member.

Under the agreement, the Port will cover up to half of the cost, or $15,000, for redistricting. Executive Director Sam Gibboney said that the cost of including the ballot proposition in the next general election is approximately $75,000, with future elections costing an additional $200,000 moving forward. The Port also expects to spend $82,000 annually for the stipend and benefits of the two new commissioners, as well as $60,000 annually for additional staff.

The final draft agreement of the new districts would be made by November 4. If voters agree to the changes, the new districts would take effect on January 1, 2023.


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