Port of Port Townsend Race is Firming Up as Filing Week Starts

By Charlie Bermant, May 12, 2013, Peninsula Daily News

Candidate filing week begins today.

There are two contested races for the Port of Port Townsend commission and no announcements about whether three Port Townsend City Council members will seek another term.

Declarations of candidacy will be accepted between
8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., today through Friday by the Jefferson County Auditor in the county courthouse at 1820 Jefferson St.

If more than two candidates file for a position, the top two vote-getters in the Aug. 6 primary will go to the Nov. 5 general election.

District 2 incumbent Port Commissioner Dave Thompson lost his seat last year when redistricting moved him into District 1.

Two men announced their intentions to run for Thompson’s open seat: KPTZ engineer Bill Putney and entrepreneur Peter Quinn.

District 3 Commissioner Leif Erickson, who has presided over the board for two years, also is seeking a second four-year term.

Erickson will be opposed by Puget Sound Express owner Pete Hanke.

Quinn, 59, who announced his intention to run April 30, is executive director of Team Jefferson and a co-owner of The Writers’ Workshoppe in Port Townsend.

He also serves as the CEO of Quimper Mercantile, a volunteer position.

He said his background in business management and startups would serve him well as port commissioner.

“I already work in economic development and have a capacity for doing this type of thing,” he said.

Putney, 66, said Thompson encouraged him to run because of his aviation experience.

A pilot since 1972, he also is a mechanic certified with the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Jefferson County International Airport “is a beautiful little airport. It is well-maintained and should be a draw for people to visit Jefferson County,” Putney said.

“But right now, it’s not serving the residents of the county.

“If someone lands there after 5 p.m., they don’t have any signs as to where to go, which makes the airport a less friendly place.”

Putney said he would like to update the port’s reservation system, which now is in a “paper and ledger sheet format,” and revise some policies.

Hanke, 54, also is a pilot as well as a captain.

His Puget Sound Express conducts whale- watching tours and charters from Point Hudson.

Hanke was in line to operate the passenger ferry between Port Townsend and Seattle but pulled out of the project in November when the port was unable to develop a viable business model.

He said this week that canceling the project was the right move.

He said he would like to improve customer service at the port for those who use the Boat Yard and Port Hudson.

“As a longtime business owner and patron of the port, I’ve seen its capabilities and willingness to address areas of economic development here in Jefferson County,” Hanke said.

“My goal as a commissioner will be to foster more economic growth — both in the marine industry as well as the large opportunities that exist in tourism.”

Erickson, 62, said he would like to make the port more self-sufficient.

“We haven’t raised taxes in three years, and I don’t believe we will raise them by very much this year,” he said.

“I think that it’s not a lofty goal to become self sufficient and make the port a more efficient operation by cinching up the budget.”

Erickson has worked as a production manager in several different boatyards, most recently Townsend Bay Marine, where he worked with Port Townsend Mayor David King.

Erickson said that his friendship and close working relationship with King helped forge several recent agreements between the port and the city.

Erickson said he learned the most about the port in his first term through interaction with the staff.

“They’ve been there for so long and are so knowledgeable, there was a steep learning curve catching up,” he said.

Three longtime members of the Port Townsend City Council are up for re-election.

None has publicly given any indication about seeking another term.

Catharine Robinson, Mark Welch and Michelle Sandoval, all of whos served as mayor during their tenures, had not shared with Mayor David King their plans as of Friday, King said.

Pamela Adams, who ran for an open city council seat in 2011 but was disqualified because she did not meet residency requirements, has indicated an interest in running but only if one of the incumbents steps down.

On the Port Townsend School Board, incumbents Jennifer James Wilson, the board chair, and Holley Carlson have indicated they will run for a second term. Both were first elected in 2009.

Jefferson Healthcare employee Matt Ready has said that he will file for a position on the hospital’s board of directors but has not stated whether he will oppose Jill Buhler or board chair Mark Mauney.

All city council positions are at large, with candidates living in any part of the city able to file for any specific seat.

Voting for school board is at large, with all voters able to vote for any candidate, though the candidates must come from within specific districts.

Commissioner districts vote for candidates within their districts for the primary, while general election voting is at large.

Hospital districts are at large for candidates and voters.

Notifications about candidates will be posted as soon as they are filed unless there is a backlog and will be visible on the county’s website http://tinyurl.com/7znyz2s, according to Elections Supervisor Karen Cartmel.


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