Port of Port Angeles Commissioner Candidates Lock Horns at Chamber of Commerce Forum

By Arwyn Rice, October 8, 2013, Peninsula Daily News

Port of Port Angeles commissioner candidates Del DelaBarre and Colleen McAleer clearly separated their stances on the Wild Olympics Campaign, waterfront development economic leadership, and ecological cleanup Monday.

Between Oct. 16 and Nov. 5, voters countywide in the all-mail election will decide between McAleer, 46, port director of business development, , and DelaBarre, 75, co-owner of an event services company.

DelaBarre and McAleer, who were subject of a forum at Monday’s Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce luncheon meeting at the Red Lion Hotel, took several questions from the 70-member audience.

In answer to a question posed by Brian Kuh, chamber president, DelaBarre stated his support for the Wild Olympics campaign.

“I have looked into it and read the report commissioned by the port,” he said.

DelaBarre said that he found that the vast majority of the timberland that would be restricted can only be harvested by helicopter.

“In my analysis there will not any jobs lost in the timber industry,” he said.

He added that if there were any job lost, they would be offset by the number of jobs gained in the tourism industry.

McAleer disagreed, and said that the land is more valuable in timber.

“The timber industry is historically our highest paying industry,” McAleer said.

While it declined in the 1980s, it still supports many families, she said.

“We need to do everything we can so that every area of timber is available for logging,” she said.

When asked about leadership for Port Angeles Harbor’s environmental cleanup, McAleer said that there is a constitutional limitation on the port’s sphere of influence.

“We can’t take over jurisdiction the at Sequim Bay any more than we can take jurisdiction at a site in California,” she said.

DelaBarre advocated for the port taking the lead on environmental issues from state and federal agencies, such as emerging issues with water quality at John Wayne Marina in Sequim.

“No one will buy a piece of property where there are still environmental questions,” he said.

The port shouldn’t wait until the state and federal agencies are ready to act, he said, but lead the way, asking the others to join the port at the table to take care of the issues, and take leadership of the process.

DelaBarre suggested that the port needs to think outside the box on waterfront development, step away from what he said was tunnel vision by only considering marine trade companies for the former Peninsula Plywood property.

A hotel or conference center, in concert with the proposed joint Feiro Marine Life Center and federal Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary education and science center, could fill the space alongside surrounding marine trade companies, the event planner said.

“The Olympic Peninsula is a changing economy,” he said.

McAleer disagreed, and said that the area needs to remain industrial and not give up on export-based business.

“I appreciate thinking outside the box, but there’s not a lot of industrial property,” she said.

Taking away that property from commercial use could stop possible uses for aerospace industry, she added, and it is a key industrial location, having direct access to two of the port’s main docking facilities.

DelaBarre accused the port of having ignored opportunities that could have been brought to Port Angeles.

“Del, you don’t know of what you speak. I am passionately involved in this,” McAleer responded.

The port is shorthanded for such work and needs at least two more employees to properly do the job, said McAleer, whose job at the port includes seeking grants.

“It takes more than just me,” she said.

McAleer and DelaBarre are both expected to be present to answer questions at a League of Women Voters candidate and information forum, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Port Angeles Senior Center, 328 E. Seventh St.


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