EJ Zita’s re-election campaign motto is: Port for the People. She wants a Port that represents the people of Thurston County and works for them. Since taking office as Port Commissioner in 2014—an election that was cheered as a triumph for the people of Thurston County—Zita has been working to make changes to the ways that the Port does business.
Zita focuses on three paths or principles to create lasting change at the Port, shaking up business as usual and increasing the positive impact that the Port has on our community. These paths are economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and community engagement.
Many residents of Thurston County don’t realize that their Port is losing millions of dollars every year, even as they continue to provide the tax dollars that keep it running. This is where Zita’s progressive agenda of economic sustainability, environmental stewardship and community engagement offers a vital opportunity to create a Port for the People.
Economic sustainability requires that the Port work for the whole community, not the special interests and corporations. A real financial return on investment has been lacking at the Port and there needs to be a clear focus on direct public benefits. The question our Port needs to answer for each venture is: how does this activity benefit our community?
Environmental stewardship is especially important to Zita, who is a farmer and a scientist and knows first-hand the importance of environmental health. One concern for the Port is storm water treatment. Storm water runoff due to the marine terminal’s operations debarking trees to be stored on Port property causes harm to Puget Sound. Zita knows just how crucial it is for all Thurston County residents that we have clean water for fish and wildlife.
Community engagement is the third success factor for creating a Port for the People. Commissioner Ziata seeks to open a regular dialogue with local tribal leaders, municipalities and community members to have all voices heard. By listening, asking questions and collaborating with Thurston County residents, Zita is able to represent their interests during Port planning and implementation meetings.
Historically, the turnout for an off election year is 33% in Thurston County. Zita and her campaign are hard at work, motivating more people to vote and participate in creating a Port for the People. The future looks bright as more progressive candidates step forward to participate in the future of Thurston County. Bill Fishburn is running to join Zita on the Port Commission. He’s running to “make the Port of Olympia the People’s Port of Thurston County”.
Only with your voice, your input and your participation in the upcoming election will Zita be able to address the Port’s current issues and continue to move the progressive agenda forward. Together, we can truly make ours a Port for the People!
Logan Reed is a local business owner, longtime supporter of EJ Zita and newly awakened political activist.