Shine Pit might define commissioner race - Six weeks till Nov.
4 general election
Jefferson County, WA - Pat Rodgers of Brinnon, the Republican candidate for Jefferson County Board of Commissioners from District 3, affirmed this week that he too has concerns with the pit-to-pier gravel mining and transport proposal put forth by Fred Hill Materials Inc.
Democrat Mark Rose, also of Brinnon, had previously made his opposition explicit, a position which has proven popular with Port Ludlow and Shine-area voters. Among other concerns, Rose has cited potential impacts on the Hood Canal Bridge, the limited amount of employment and tax revenues expected from the project, and possible repercussions for the Hood Canal ecosystem.
"I'm not for that operation [pit to pier] - I never was," Rodgers said Tuesday in a telephone interview. "I stay awake at night thinking about that bridge," he added, referring to the possibility that a gravel-laden barge or ship might hit the Hood Canal Floating Bridge.
Fred Hill Materials officials have maintained that the barging and shipping traffic will be safe.
Although Rodgers was a member of the Jefferson County Planning Commission in 2002, he did not participate in that body's recommendation that Shine Pit be designated as "Mineral Resource Lands" (MRL) in the county's comprehensive plan.
The county's decision last year to approve the MRL designation does not approve the pit-to-pier project itself. Those permits are currently in a review process that is handled entirely by staff, not elected officials.
Regarding the MRL decision (Republicans Glen Huntingford and Dan Titterness voted "yes," former Democratic commissioner Richard Wojt voted "no"), Rodgers said, "I believe the county commissioners were brilliant in the way they played their hand," getting a dozen concessions from Fred Hill Materials which Rodgers believes can address environmental concerns. Nonetheless, Rodgers said, "If they [Fred Hill Materials] don't satisfy those concerns, I would be an opponent of that project."
What's important today, Rodgers asserts, is for the county and state agencies reviewing the pit-to-pier project to follow due process with Fred Hill Materials or any other applicant. He feels it's best that the project decision is being made by staff rather than in a political arena.
Rodgers and Rose have less than six weeks to campaign before the countywide Nov. 4 general election. Rodgers took home 50 percent of the District 3 primary vote Sept. 16. Rose won 28 percent, and Bob "Cougar" Garten of Shine received 22 percent.
A review of ballots showed Rodgers ran stronger among vote-by-mail voters in District 3 than he did among those voting in person at the polls.
At the polls in Brinnon (Precinct 204), Garten had 31 votes, Rodgers 17 and Rose 16.
Port Ludlow, typically a Republican-dominated area at election time, showed a strong Democratic trend. Precinct 501 at the polls drew 34 votes for Rose, 32 for Rodgers and 10 for Garten. Precinct 502 (South Port Ludlow) at the polls had 29 for Rose, 21 for Rodgers and 9 for Garten.
It may be no surprise that voters at the polls in Shine (Precinct 503) voted 24 for Rose, 5 for Garten and 4 for Rodgers. Rose has made it clear during the campaign that he is opposed to the proposed pit-to-pier gravel mining and barge operation at Shine Pit. To that point, Rodgers has mostly kept his personal opinions on Fred Hill Materials to himself except for supporting the county and state permit processes.
The only aspect of the MRL designation that might come before Rose or Rodgers as commissioner is a further study of the environmental impacts of alternatives to the MRL decision. The Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board has ordered the county to do a more thorough job in revising those alternatives but otherwise upheld the county's decision.
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