Marissa Luck, May 20, 2015, The Daily News
For Tony Filippello, the Port of Longview commission race is all about jobs.
“Young people right now feel like they have to move away from this community to get a good job, and I don’t want that. I want to be able to bring jobs here … it seems like if you get a college education, you have to move away,” said Filippello, 43.
The electrician/businessman joined Jeff Wilson on Friday in the race to replace incumbent Commissioner Darold Dietz for the District 1 seat. Dietz, a former dockworker, has served on the post since 2007. He has not responded to requests for comment about why he is stepping down.
Filippello said the port already supports many jobs in the community, but he would like to see more.
“Everyone prospers from more jobs at the port” whether it’s small businesses such as his electrical contracting company or larger businesses such as KapStone Paper and Packaging, he said.
He wouldn’t get into specifics about how he would approach job creation. He declined to say whether he would have opposed or supported the propane export terminal proposed by Haven Energy. The three-member port commission unanimously turned down the $300 million project on March 10, citing concerns about its safety and impact on port operations.
Filippello said he has no formal connections to the dockworkers’ union, unlike Dietz and commissioner Lou Johnson, who also is an former longshoreman. However, he said he would seek endorsement from any group in Cowlitz County, including the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
“I think that anybody that has to directly deal with the port, we need to have good relations with. You know it’s not about an ILWU, or a union or non-union thing. It’s about a community working together and doing what’s best for the Port of Longview to bring jobs here,” he said.
Filippello graduated from Mark Morris High School in 1991. After serving in the U.S. Air Force, he became a certified master electrician and eventually started a contracting company, Power Tech Electric, in 2004. He said his business experience will help in streamlining port operations.
“During the economic downturn I saw several companies perish. I am proud that through hard work, determination, leadership and a willingness to adapt, that my company was not only able to survive, but is now even more fiscally responsible,” he said. “I will bring that same level of dedication and leadership to the Port of Longview.”
Part of that fiscal responsibility will be examining the budget and port property tax more closely. Filippello said he doesn’t know enough about the port’s budget yet to say whether he would reduce or eliminate the port’s property tax. The tax is 44 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, or $67.50 on a $150,000 home.
“If there’s a possibility to save money for the taxpayers, absolutely,” he said. But he also said it may be essential for repairing outdated or dilapidated infrastructure. The budget workshops will help him to “put the budget under the microscope to see what really needs to be done”, he said.