Northwest News

Port of Olympia commission wraps up applicant interviews

Eight applicant interviews for the District 3 commission seat at the Port of Olympia are complete after the commission interviewed four people Monday and another four Tuesday.

Commissioners Bill McGregor and George Barner now are set to meet at 5:30 p.m. June 10 to publicly discuss the applicants’ qualifications and possibly appoint someone to the seat left vacant by Sue Gunn. Gunn resigned April 1 because of health concerns, but she also said she felt pressured to leave.

The commission has until June 28 to make an appointment decision. If it can’t make a decision by then, then the decision falls to the Thurston County Commission. If the county commissioners can’t make a decision by Sept. 28, it goes to Gov. Jay Inslee.

Whoever is appointed will fill the seat until the November general election is certified because the District 3 seat is up for election. E.J. Zita, Larry Goodman, Jerry Farmer and Bob Jones not only applied for the temporary seat, they also have filed to run for it.

Interviewed Tuesday were Goodman, a former staff member of the Washington Federation of State Employees; Fred Finn, a former state lawmaker; Farmer, co-owner of KRXY 94.5 FM; and George Sharp, a local business owner and the former executive director of the Olympia Lacey Tumwater Visitor & Convention Bureau.

The four applicants Tuesday were asked the same questions as the candidates Monday, including this one:

Are there any port issues in which you have a particular interest or expertise?

Goodman: “Economics is one of my big interests, whether it’s budgets, wages or the cost of health insurance. The pure math of economics is a skill I have acquired over the years and how to analyze data and budgets, so I think that’s one thing I would not be caught off guard by.”

Finn: “Marketing, in terms of trying to find folks to make use of the marine terminal, or marketing to the public about what the port is doing. ... Marketing is critical to getting new products coming into the port, and I would hope the port is involved with associations of break-bulk suppliers because I think it will be critical for the port in the future.”

Farmer: “In terms of expertise, my communication skills, plus I have developed good relationships with our community’s leaders, both civic and private, and I’m on positive speaking and listening terms with city managers, council people, chamber heads, nonprofits, a broad spectrum of people who make up the active parts of our community.”

Sharp: “I’m interested in the future (port) economic impact study. People have been critical of the port, so we need to get the study right, asking: What did people not believe about the (previous) study? And we need to know how we’re going to do the study. ... So we can say, ‘Hey, this is what the port does, this is the economic impact it has on each community and Thurston County and on the region.’ ”

The port commission also asked all eight applicants to answer a question in writing after their interview. McGregor disclosed the question at the end of Tuesday’s interviews: In your opinion, what is the future of Capitol Lake?

The applicant answers will be posted on the Port of Olympia website by 5 p.m. Wednesday (June 3).