Five Candidates File for Olympia Port Commission

Two open seats on the Olympia Port Commission drew five candidates by the end of the filing period last week. One race will have a primary election contest that already is racking up a slew of campaign contributions.

Melissa Denton, Amy Evans and Joel Hansen will face off in the August 3 primary for the District 3 seat being vacated by E.J. Zita.

Bob Iyall and Jesse Simmons are vying for the District 2 seat being vacated by incumbent Bill McGregor.

In the primary, candidates for Port Commission run by district; they run countywide in the Nov. 2 general election.

Amy Evans

State Public Disclosure Commission records show the real estate and development communities are placing their bets on Evans, a real estate broker and community volunteer. Her campaign website discusses her experience in business, non-profits and government, and talks about collaboration, but to date contains no specifics about what she would do if elected to the Port Commission.

She’s raised nearly $20,000 so far, more than double the amount of her opponents and much of it in $250 donations, which is her self-imposed cap. According to state Public Disclosure Commission records, she already has close to 100 of those, one of them from Hale Travis of Gig Harbor who lists his occupation as real estate and his employer as Panattoni, a business involved in a controversial transaction with the Port for 200 acres of its property in Tumwater. 

She says this on a campaign site on social media: “Based on my belief in campaign finance reform, I am limiting contributions to $250 per person and want to see if we can get the win with $25,000.” On the same site, she now says $25,000 was her “initial” fundraising goal. Regardless, she has to raise only just over $5,000 to meet it. 

Melissa Denton

Denton, who lost a bid for Thurston County commissioner in the 2018 primary, is a family law practitioner who owns her own business. She volunteers with several organizations in the community. She lists her top issues as clean air and water, community development, diversity and respect, and improving Port processes to protect the public interest.

Joel Hansen

Hansen, a solar developer with a local business, serves on the Port’s Advisory Commission, on the Tumwater Planning commission, was Zita’s campaign treasurer in 2017. He’s yet to launch a campaign website or stand up a social media presence.

District 2 (both advance to general election)

Jessie Simmons

Simmons, a U.S. Army veteran and political consultant who has worked on local campaigns, has yet to list his specific priorities, saying this on his campaign website: “We can protect jobs, especially in these stressful times, and protect the environment for future generations to enjoy. We can be intelligent about the growth we want for the port and fulfill the goals of “Destination 2050.” And we can turn the port into a partner for people, cities, and other stakeholders throughout our county.”

Bob Iyall

Iyall, the chief executive officer of the corporation that manages and operates businesses owned by the Nisqually Indian Tribe, had not filed campaign information with the PDC as of May 24 and does not yet have a campaign website or social media presence.

By Mindy Chambers

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