Proposition No. 1 Port of Olympia Commission

Thurston County voters will decide in the November 2022 general election whether to expand the Port of Olympia Commission from three to five members.

Proposition No. 1 Port of Olympia Commission

The Port of Olympia Commission passed Resolution No. 2022-07 concerning a proposition to expand the number of Port Commissioners. Proposition 1 would increase the number of commissioners of the Port District from three (3) to five (5) commissioners who will serve in five separate newly created districts. Thurston County voters will decide whether to approve or reject Proposition 1 on the November 2022 general election.

In the fall of 2021, Thurston County and the Port of Olympia collaborated and signed a joint resolution to put forward ballot measures during the November 2022 general election to expand both governing bodies from three to five. Coordinating election and redistricting efforts between Thurston County and the Port will gain efficiencies, minimize confusion, and allow for cost sharing.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the statutory authority for Port of Olympia Commissioners to increase from three to five members?

Pursuant to RCW 53.12.115, a ballot proposition shall be submitted to the voters of any port district authorizing an increase in the number of port commissioners to five whenever the port commission adopts a resolution proposing the increase in number of port commissioners.  The ballot proposition shall be submitted at the next general or special election occurring sixty or more days after the resolution was adopted.  There are also provisions for a petition signed by voters that would bring a ballot proposition forward, but that did not occur in this situation.

Why did the Port of Olympia Commissioners propose this expansion to the voters?

Since the Commission’s formation nearly one hundred years ago, the county population has grown substantially.  The Port Commission has determined that this proposition is necessary to maintain effective and responsive representation of the people of Thurston County and expansion is expected to increase diversity of perspectives.

How much will this cost the taxpayers?

Estimated costs for an expanded Commission include:

  • A one-time cost of approximately $381,000
  • Ongoing annual costs of approximately $145,000
  • Election costs estimated at $200,000 per election cycle
How will the new districts be created?

Thurston County will be divided into five commissioner districts through the Redistricting Commission process.  Each district will, as close as possible:

  1.  Have one-fifth of the population of the county,
  2.  Maintain the current commissioners in their elected districts,
  3.  Follow precinct lines,
  4.  Maintain communities of mutual interest,
  5.  Be as compact and contiguous as possible, and
  6.  Not be gerrymandered (manipulated to favor one party or class).
When will the new commissioners be elected to the Port District?

Port commissioners serve a four-year term.  If Proposition 1 is approved by the voters in November, the two newly created positions will be voted on during the November general election in 2023.  Since 2023 is an odd-numbered year, the additional commissioner elected who received the highest number of votes shall be elected to a four-year term of office and the other commissioner elected shall be elected to a two-year term of office.

What happens if Proposition 1 is not approved by voters?

If Proposition 1 fails, the Port’s districts would not be redrawn and the three current districts would remain in place.

What is the Redistricting Committee?

Pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding between Thurston County and the Port of Olympia, the redistricting committee is made up of the chair of the Port Commission (voting member), chair of the Board of County Commissioners (voting member), and the Thurston County Auditor (non-voting member).  The committee is supported by county and port staff including the county manager, county Information Technology department and elections staff, and the Port of Olympia’s executive director.

Redistricting Information

The objectives of redistricting:

  • Achieve equal population numbers by district (about 60,000 per district)
  • Maintain current commissioners in their elected districts
  • Follow precinct lines, avoiding splitting existing precincts
  • Compact and contiguous as possible
  • Maintain communities of mutual interest
  • No gerrymandering

Redistricting Committee current Timeline:

  • August 12 – September 29:  County staff and the committee shall develop a proposal to create five districts for the election of commissioners
  • September 30:  The committee shall submit the final draft redistricting plan of the proposed five districts to the county and Port of Olympia
  • Weeks of October 10 and October 17:  Committee shall schedule joint work sessions between the parties to review the final draft of the proposed five districts. 
  • November 4:  Final draft agreement of the boundaries are approved by the Port of Olympia and Thurston County legislative authorities
  • November 15:  The Port of Olympia and Thurston County shall set separate public hearings to take place on November 29 to receive comment on the final approved draft of the five new districts
  • November 21:  Publish the proposed district boundaries map for public review
  • November 29:  Hold public hearings to receive comment on the final draft
  • December 2:  Committee to meet to consider public comments – if no modifications then move to approval
    • If modifications are made to the draft:
      • December 9:  Submit revised final plan to the Port of Olympia and Thurston County
      • December 13:  Joint work session to review revised draft
      • December 15:  Port Commission and Board of County Commissioners approve final new member districts at separate special meetings
      • December 19:  The Port of Olympia and Board of County Commissioners submit approved boundaries to the Thurston County Auditor
  • December 12:  Port Commission approves the final new five member districts
  • December 13:  Board of County Commissioners approve the final new five member districts
  • December 20:  The Port of Olympia and Board of County Commissioners submit approved boundaries to the Thurston County Auditor

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