PORT ANGELES — Most of Michael Cobb’s Nov. 7 general election campaign for Port of Port Angeles commissioner is funded by seven employees and the owner of Platypus Marine Inc., a port tenant.
Their combined $8,000 in contributions — $1,000 each, the maximum allowed under state law — constitutes 92 percent of the $8,698 that Cobb had raised for his campaign as of Thursday, according to state Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) records filed by Cobb.
“They’re individuals,” Cobb said of the contributors.
“They have company issues,” he said.
“I talked to [port tenant] Westport [Shipyard], I talked to the union, I talked to a lot of people.”
Cobb is running in the only countywide race on the ballot against one-term commissioner and board President Colleen McAleer, who has raised $10,659, according to records filed with the PDC.
Her largest contributors — $1,000 each — were her father, Michael McAleer of Sequim; Carol Johnson of Port Angeles; and Alan Crain of Bainbridge Island.
Ballots will be mailed to voters Wednesday and must be postmarked or dropped off in drop boxes or the county auditor’s office by Nov. 7.
Cobb said that if he is elected, he would be careful about voting on issues relating to Platypus to avoid any appearance of impropriety by accepting campaign donations from the company and voting on issues that will affect the company.
“When there is an issue involving them, if there is some question about the appropriateness of that, I would recuse myself from the vote,” Cobb said.
“It would be cleared with the port attorney, and that would be the end of the discussion.”
McAleer said she was “surprised” Cobb accepted the contributions from the Platypus owner and his employees.
She said she refused contributions from the owner of a business that leases from the port and from two employees from two other port tenants.
“I said I’d rather get your endorsement and keep it clean,” McAleer said.
“I do not want any public perception that there is some kind of expectation from that tenant for me to vote in their favor but rather what is in the best interest of the port and the public in general.”
The contributions were all received by Cobb on June 26, according to the PDC.
Company owner and President Judson Linnabary said he and the company employees, all long-term workers, met with Cobb before deciding to each donate $1,000 to his campaign.
“We liked what he said,” Linnabary said. “We all talked about it and decided to give him some money and help him out.
“I told them this was important, and they all decided to contribute some money as well.
“We feel he has the right thinking for the job.
“We think he can do this community well, and after talking to him, we decided to help.”
One of the contributors, Doug Linde, head of Platypus’ paint department, said the idea of contributing to Cobb’s campaign came up at a management meeting.
The other contributors include General Manager Bruce Bryant of Sequim and marketing and sales director David Kane.
Employees who were asked to contribute “were upper payscale,” Linde said.
“It was strictly volunteer,” he added. “We see [the contributions] as an investment in ourselves.”
Platypus has a 25-year, $6,795-a-month port lease for 4 acres that expires May 31, 2025.
The company, which manufactures yachts and commercial, fishing and government vessels, has four five-year options for up to 20 years after the present lease expires, port Director of Finance John Nutter said.
The three port commissioners approve lease terms and negotiate property improvements with tenants such as Platypus.
Port commissioners in May 2015, including McAleer, unanimously refused to sell the property to Platypus that the company now leases to allow the company to expand.
“I would not sell the property they are on,” Cobb said this week.
The commissioners’ decision prompted Linnabary to tell them at the May 2015 meeting that it “remains to be seen” if his company would leave Port Angeles.
“We have decided to stay,” Linnabary said last week.
“We are not done negotiating with many different things.
“We are trying to work with people who want to work with us,” he said, praising port Executive Director Karen Goschen.
“Karen is great to work with,” he said.
“We are always in negotiations,” Linnabary said Wednesday.
“We run a shipyard that uses their land.”
Goschen said Thursday that the port is “talking generally” with Platypus on usage rates and location for a planned $2.5 million vessel wash-down facility and is negotiating on the company’s lease.
“We have been trying to come to negotiate some changes to write a new lease or amend his existing lease,” Goschen said.
“He has options on his lease term he would like to change.
“A lot of things take complex negotiations that will take a lot of time to work out.”
McAleer’s 2017 contributions include her own $4,000 composed of in-kind contributions of signs that she used in her first run for commissioner in 2013, she said last week.
During that campaign, she accepted $3,000 in donations from John D. Crow, the co-founder and board chairman of port tenant Green Crow Crop., a Port Angeles timberland investment and management company.
“The big difference is there were no active negotiations going on with Green [Crow], John David Crow, but there is active work going on with contacts with Platypus,” McAleer said.
The port recently agreed to pay for half of a paving project at the Platypus site, McAleer added.
Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at [email protected].