Port of Lewiston board has two new faces

Johnson, Hasenoehrl elected

By Elaine Williams of the Tribune

Thursday, November 4, 2010
The lead Dan Johnson held in a Lewiston Port Commission race widened into a come-from-behind victory once all the Nez Perce County election results had been tallied Wednesday.

Johnson won the District 1 seat, beating his opponent D. Richard Wyatt 5,465 to 5,071. Wyatt, a retired owner of an engineering firm, finished first in a three-way primary. That race eliminated Wayne Hollingshead, chief operating officer of TPC Holdings, the parent company of the Lewiston Tribune and the Moscow Pullman Daily News.

Johnson will be one of two new faces on the three-member port commission. Mary Hasenoehrl beat Jim McIver 6,729 to 3,710 in District 2 and will become the first woman to serve on the commission.

Johnson and Hasenoehrl, director of development at the University of Idaho’s College of Agricultural and Life Sciences, didn’t face incumbents. Todd Maddock, who holds the seat Johnson will take, didn’t seek the office because he is moving. Terry Kolb didn’t run against Hasenoehrl and McIver since he doesn’t reside in District 2. Kolb was appointed to the post after the death of Peter Wilson in 2009.

It appears the time Johnson put into his campaign played a significant role in the results. He attended city council meetings, church socials and community parades in an effort to get to know everyone, including tribal members, who reside in Nez Perce County.

“I was quite surprised,” Wyatt said. “(I thought that) age, experience, being in the valley as long as I have would count for more. I don’t want to take a thing away from him.”

Wyatt spent $1,200, mostly on newspaper advertising, for the job that pays $50 for each day the port commission meets. Johnson estimated his expenses at about $2,000. “He wanted it more than I did,” Wyatt said. “I wish him well.”

The race between Hasenoehrl and McIver, by comparison, was low key. Neither one spent anything.

“I felt there wasn’t a lot of difference between Jim and myself,” Hasenoehrl said of her decision about how she campaigned. “I think either one of us would do a great job in representing the interests of our district in the port.”

Johnson’s success raises questions about how he will balance his job as solid waste manager with the city of Lewiston with being a port commissioner.

The city of Lewiston leases property from the port for its transfer station, where garbage goes before it’s taken to the Asotin County Regional Landfill. The city of Lewiston is the biggest customer of EKO, which handles the city’s yard waste and biosolids from a waste water treatment plant.

Johnson said he will vote on decisions about EKO and participate in discussions and perhaps vote about the transfer station if legal counsel backs his stance.

Johnson believes he doesn’t have a conflict of interest on EKO, one of the key issues in his race against Wyatt, since the city could handle its yard waste and biosolids other ways. Additionally, what to do about EKO is a city council decision and any recommendation the city council might get from staff on EKO would come from his supervisor, Johnson said.

Finding a place for EKO to move may be one of the big issues port commissioners handle in upcoming years. The port commission voted to extend EKO’s lease three years in October with Hasenoehrl, Wyatt and Johnson present.

It did so on the condition EKO use the time to find a new location where any smell it generates wouldn’t spread as easily into the Lewiston-Clarkston Valley.

Hasenoehrl and Johnson both support that decision, but Johnson said people need to remember a little history on the topic. In 2005 or 2006, the city examined hauling biosolids to organic farms in Oregon and barging its yard waste. A group tasked by the city to study the issue advised against doing so in part because it would cost each household about $12 a year, Johnson said.

Williams may be contacted at
[email protected] or (208) 848-2261.