The closely watched Vancouver Port Commission race is unlike any other. The future of a multi-million dollar oil terminal at the port hangs in the balance. And that’s made things personal in this close-knit community.

Mark Stephan

“This is truly a very local race,” said Mark Stephan, a political science professor at Washington State University’s Vancouver campus.

He called the amount of cash going into this port race unprecedented.

“To have so much money pouring from interests outside the area,” Stephan said, “it just doesn’t usually happen that way.”

Stephan said “Big Oil” in politics is nothing new on a national level, and there have been similar battles in towns throughout Oregon and Washington. Mostly because of its location on the West Coast, the Pacific Northwest is an attractive site for industries that are looking to easily ship coal, gas or other fuel sources to Asian countries across the Pacific Ocean.

“The more that gets known about the connections in terms of campaign finances between an oil corporation and a local candidate, the more that tends to turn people off,” Stephan said. “That’s a potential risk for Kris Greene in Vancouver, and it may actually increase the turnout on the opposite side.”

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