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Caldwell raises almost three times more money than challenger in Port election

Port Commissioner Chuck Caldwell has raised almost three times as much money as his challenger Ron Figlar-Barnes in the election for Caldwell to retain his seat, records with the state Public Disclosure Commission show.

Caldwell raised $21,940 to the $7,851 raised by Figlar Barnes, as of Oct. 30 updated figures. The records show that many of Caldwell’s most avid financial supporters are tenants at the Port and his tally includes donations from the two companies looking to expand into controversial crude oil export facilities, a project Caldwell has fervently defended as the permits were rejected by the state Shorelines Hearings Board.

On the other side of the coin, Figlar-Barnes received donations by many of the opponents to the crude oil export projects.

Employees associated with Willis Enterprises, which has a chip loading facility at the Port, donated the most to Caldwell with a combined $2,500. Owner Paul Willis of Montesano donated $1,000 with manager Todd Charlton of Montesano donating $500, manager Walt Schrader of Aberdeen donating $500 and company chief financial officer Pat Tagman of Montesano donating $500.

Brusco Tug & Barge donated $1,000 to Caldwell as a company and tug captain Kevin Campbell donated $200. The company also donated a $500 catered tug boat trip down the Chehalis River, which Caldwell used for a campaign fundraiser.

Imperium Renewables donated $575 as a company and Westway Terminals vice-president Robbie Johnson donated $1,000. Public relations specialist Charla Skaggs, whose clients include potential crude oil exporter U.S. Development Co., also donated $200.

Pasha Stevedoring, which exports cars out of the Port, donated $1,000 to Caldwell.

Billy Swor, with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, donated $200.

Valu Drug in Montesano donated $150 and Pick-Rite Thriftway in Montesano also donated $150. Gepettos in Montesano donated $100.

Joe Stipic, the chief financial officer of Port tenant The Westport Shipyard, donated $300. And Quigg Bros., which has done work for the Port, donated $300. Five Star Dealerships donated $300.

Among current and former elected officials donating: State Rep. Brian Blake for $50, Cosmopolis Mayor Vickie Raines for $150, fellow Port Commissioner Jack Thompson for $50, Hoquiam Mayor Jack Durney for $225, Montesano School Board member Steve Poler for $250 and former Montesano city councilwoman Vini Samuel for $150.

Caldwell is loaning his campaign $2,000, the records show.

Originally, missing from the donations under Caldwell’s tally was free Internet advertising the popular website Grays Harbor Scanner has donated to Caldwell’s campaign, which could be worth hundreds or thousands of dollars, depending on how the campaign and website owner Brian Baldwin values the donation. Baldwin said on Oct. 16 he had provided his information to the campaign.

On Oct. 30, after this article was published, Baldwin’s in-kind donations came up as $120 for developing Caldwell’s website and $30 for the campaign ad. He says those are the values based on what he charges clients since what he does is a hobby, not a business. The donations are registered as of Oct. 16, the same day Baldwin was questioned by The Vidette regarding the donations, but didn’t register until very late in the day on Oct. 29, he said.

A $150 in-kind donation for the Hubble House was also registered.

Meantime, Figlar-Barnes donated $1,121 to his campaign — shown as $453 as the start-up costs for the campaign and another $668 in personal funds.

David Mascarenas is his top donor with $1,400. Mascarenas is a Westport environmental activist, who splits his time in Snohomish County and has vocally opposed both the efforts by the Port to export coal and to export crude oil.

Other oil train opponents donating: Hoquiamite David Forbes with $500, Hoquiamite Arnie Martin with $250, McCleary resident Janet Strong with $100, Ocosta resident Linda Orgel with $150 and the Engvall family, owners of Brady’s Oysters, with a combined $674. Figlar-Barnes also received the endorsement of the Southwest Washington Electricians, which donated $250 to his campaign.

Absent in the campaign so far is the Quinault Indian Nation, which has donated in local political races before, but hasn’t donated to either candidate, despite spending money to vigorously oppose the oil export facilities at the Port.