Port of Edmonds challengers hope for a new direction

3 hope to unseat incumbents
By Brian Soergel | Oct 27, 2017
Courtesy of: Joni Kirk

Last week’s Edmonds Beacon featured questions and answers with two of the three Port of Edmonds incumbent commissioners: Bruce Faires and Steve Johnston.

Fred Gouge did not respond to the questions, instead providing a statement.

Now it’s time to hear from the challengers.

Angela Harris will face Gouge in District 1, while Lora Petso will challenge Faires in District 3 and Susan Paine is pitted against Johnston in the at-large position, which serves all of the Port’s three districts.

The district includes the city of Edmonds west of 92nd Avenue West, the Town of Woodway and unincorporated areas of Snohomish County south of Edmonds and west of 92nd Avenue West, including unincorporated Esperance, whose residents have an Edmonds mailing address.

Candidates must live in the director district they wish to represent, but voters throughout the district vote for all positions.

The increased interest in the Port races, both from candidates and citizens, is intensified by interest in the Edmonds Marsh, whose boundaries abut Harbor Square, which the Port owns, and the Port itself.

ANGELA HARRIS


Why are you running for a commissioner position at the Port of Edmonds?

We have a beautiful marina and shoreline, a wonderful downtown and surrounding areas, and an incredible opportunity with one of the few salt marshes in the Puget Sound area. I’m running for Port commissioner because, simply put, I believe we can do more.

More to protect and enhance our natural resources, more to involve the most active and interested community I’ve lived in – shaping our future – more to collaborate and move things forward.

What in your background prepares you for the position?

I bring over 20 years of business experience, the last 12 at Microsoft as a business program manager. Prior to that, I was a small-business owner. My strengths are my ability to bring direction to chaos, to listen to all parties, strategic thinking, and the ability to move things forward and execute on a plan. It is important to me to get things done.

I have years of strong collaboration experience – skilled in working across boundaries and with stakeholders who have varying needs. My years at Microsoft have given me leadership, research, collaboration and project management skills (including budget management) that I’ve had to hone to move large global projects forward. The work I lead ends up reaching over 100,000 users worldwide.

I believe my business experience is the same needed for the job of Port commissioner. Commissioners plan, goal-set and evaluate the Port’s mission and objectives; develop and adopt policy; and approve and adopt annual budget and other duties, many in cooperation with the Port executive director, residents, customers and staff.

My daily job includes these efforts – planning, design, development and analysis of project work and oversight of budget. The content being worked on is different, obviously, but a strong project manager can move to different projects and work those successfully.

My skills will transfer to the job of Port commissioner. I believe bringing in nonpolitical, strategic thinking with strong collaboration and project management skills is a benefit.

In light of the city turning down the Master Plan a while back, what do you think the future holds for the Port and its redevelopment?

The current Port commissioners have made it clear they plan to wait until the City Council is more favorable to their proposed Master Plan so they can move it forward.

In fact, my opponent’s candidate statement in 2013 reads “... I will continue to push for redevelopment, by getting changes to the Edmonds City Council.” There are meeting minutes since that time that basically state the same.

The Master Plan is still living and is the plan of record. I believe it’s time to create a new plan. We need to create a new vision that takes into account our unique community – thinking outside the box at what works for our community, how we can use our fantastic resources to bring in more tourism, bringing in new business to our local small businesses, and including the great businesses at Harbor Square now that are loved and frequented by many.

Have you attended Sea Jazz concerts and gone whale-watching on Puget Sound Express?

I have attended Sea Jazz concerts – great venue and nice job pulling in music to the area. I have not yet been able to whale-watch. My plan was to take my children this summer – but running a campaign has turned out to take a bit of time! Smiling when I say it, but not really joking!

The summer has gone fast and as things settle, I look forward to taking my children out whale-watching. We’ve been talking about it for some time.

What is your position on both the Edmonds Marsh and the daylighting of Willow Creek? Do you support the buffer recommendations as they stand now?

I believe we have a responsibility to protect the natural resources we’ve been given. Protect – and also enhance. Not doing the minimum required, but looking, again, outside the box and expanding our thoughts to what we can do. We need to do everything in balance with nature. I fully support, and would look forward to seeing, what more we can do to support the daylighting of Willow Creek.

What an exciting opportunity to provide shelter for juvenile Chinook salmon – let alone all the other benefits! I would like to see a long-term restoration plan for the Edmonds Marsh created that includes daylighting, but also things such as replanting, weed-pulling, etc.

We have incredible passion and people willing to volunteer their time to make these things happen – let’s collaborate, coordinate and put a plan together to restore the marsh.

Many are stating so much has been done, it’s important to note that if you look at the facts, and what has been done by the current Port Commissioner had to be done. This gets to why I’m running.

I’m running because I want to do more. I would love to be a voice among many for our Puget Sound shoreline and Edmonds Marsh. Ultimately, this would mean that I’m a voice for my children’s future. And there is nothing more important to me than that.

List a few top priorities for the Port going forward.

All of my priorities include collaboration and building relationships across all parties. The Port needs an updated master plan for the eastside. It hasn’t been updated in four years. It’s time to let the old plan go and build a new plan of record.

My other priorities include the creation of a climate action plan for the Port, a long-term restoration plan documented for the Edmonds Marsh, addressing our storm water issues by collaborating with the city, supporting the daylighting of Willow Creek, and continuing the great service at the Marina as well as looking to what’s next and how we can make the offerings at the marina even better.

Speaking to local residents, there is concern that rates are so high that it doesn’t work for many of them. I have not done an analysis across ports in the Puget Sound, but I believe it’s something we should consider.

Any other information you want to provide?

I am a strong advocate for education, human rights and the environment. I’m dedicated to improving education globally and locally, whether collaborating to bring a computer lab to a school in Kenya or building educational expertise for the disabled community here in Washington state.

Helping the disabled community is a particular focus for me, as one of my four children was born with Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome. I’ve served on the parent advisory committee for Washington Sensory Disability Services and collaborated with the Styer-Fitzgerald Program for Functional Academics.

I’m also an active advocate for women’s empowerment and safety, both in our community and overseas. I’ve served as a volunteer legal advocate at the Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, a nonprofit that provides free and confidential services to women and children.

Additionally, through the global scholarship and mentoring nonprofit Global Give Back Circle (GGBC), I’ve mentored a young woman in Kenya for seven years, am part of the GGBC advisory council and serve as acting president on Microsoft’s GGBC Mentor Chapter board.

Over the last 20 years, I have built a track record of responsible budget management and civic leadership. I believe the Port of Edmonds can be a leader in financial and environmental stewardship, and I pledge, if elected, to carefully manage these valuable community assets.

I’m supported by Snohomish County Firefighters IAFF Local 1828, the Sierra Club, Washington Conservation Voters, the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington state, some current and past City Council members, school board member Carin Chase, as well as other local businesses and residents.

I would very much appreciate your support and your vote so that we can begin the work of creating actionable, community-driven plans for all of our future.

SUSAN PAINE


Why are you running for a commissioner position at the Port of Edmonds?

The Port of Edmonds is a fantastic destination for residents and visitors to enjoy recreational and tourist activities. I’m running for Port commissioner because this is the time when we as a community can come together and have a lasting impact on the future of the marsh and the Edmonds waterfront.

My campaign slogan is “The Port of Edmonds Is the Natural Gateway to Edmonds.” This aspect of the Port’s economic development activities has not been supported by the current Port commission.

In addition to my desire to give back to the Edmonds community, there are two important issues that need attention and energy – the preservation and restoration of the Edmonds Marsh and the rewriting of the Port’s Harbor Square Master Plan, one that does not promote high-rise buildings at the Marsh or other parts of the waterfront.

What in your background prepares you for the position?

I have recently retired from the city of Seattle as a strategic adviser and manager in the regulatory and land-use fields. This includes contracting and resource development responsibilities. I have a strong scientific understanding of marine ecology, although I am not a scientist. I have a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University.

Through my work, I have had to be creative in solving problems for developers and others while following legal requirements. My community involvement has included being elected twice to the Edmonds School District board of directors (2005-2011).

I am grateful to the voters for this experience; I served two years as board president, including during the economic downturn.

I have attended Port commission meetings since I started my campaign, and the Port’s meetings are very similar to the school-board meetings.

In light of the city turning down the Master Plan a while back, what do you think the future holds for the port and its redevelopment?

The future for what the Port looks like and for any redevelopment depends on the outcome of this election. There are opportunities for the Port to concentrate on its marina-based tourist programs.

The Port can work closely with the city and WSDOT on street runoff due to ferry traffic, and start the stormwater mitigation to help the marsh become less impacted by vehicles.

I think the future is very bright for the Port – it is very capably managed, and it has a diverse group of tenants who provide economic stability for their leased properties. Any redevelopment must include broad community input and provide the highest level of environmental stewardship to preserve the marsh and near-shore environment.

Have you attended Sea Jazz concerts and gone whale-watching on Puget Sound Express?

Yes – I have done both. I’ve attended Sea Jazz concerts this summer and off and on over the past few years – we have very talented students here. This summer, I went on the Puget Sound Express with some out-of-town guests from the East Coast, and we had a marvelous time with whale-watching and seeing other sea life in their natural environment.

What is your position on both the Edmonds Marsh and the daylighting of Willow Creek? Do you support the buffer recommendations as they stand now?

The Edmonds Marsh is a natural jewel in our downtown area that attracts residents and visitors from near and far and across all the seasons. I support both the daylighting project for Willow Creek, after the contamination is cleaned up and the buffer recommendations as they are now.

List a few top priorities for the Port going forward.

My top three priorities include:

• Continuing the strong financial performance by supporting the best business practices and providing excellent customer service to the marina and facilities tenants.

• Requiring that any redevelopment proposals are evaluated by using the best available science for all environmentally sensitive areas and by looking at their long-term financial impact.

• Finding funding resources to remediate contamination on Port property, to restore the marsh to its highest level of environmental function, including daylighting Willow Creek.

Any other information you want to provide?

My experience brings over 30 years of municipal and nonprofit experience, primarily focusing on service delivery, resource development and long-term program sustainability.

I have a master’s in public administration from Seattle University and a bachelor of arts from the University of Washington.

I’m a founding member of Sustainable Edmonds, a local nonprofit that provides educational programs for the public as well as developing projects for our community.

I was asked to join and was appointed to the Edmonds Tree Board, where I served as chair for two of my three years. This group developed community activities and provided education for the public works staff on the best practices in support of our environment.

I brought in over $200,000 of new money to support sustainable practices in the community, and provided education and best practices for municipal staff to incorporate into their projects for vegetation management and stormwater treatment.

LORA PETSO


Why are you running for a commissioner position at the Port of Edmonds?

Last spring I was asked to run for Port commissioner. Many of those who asked me to run are concerned about the Port’s efforts to place tall buildings too close to the marsh at the Harbor Square site, thus threatening the health of the marsh.

You can read the plan on the Port's website.

A healthy marsh can absorb carbon and provide salmon habitat. An unhealthy marsh can emit carbon and will not support salmon.

People are also concerned by the Port’s failure to make any improvement at all to the Harbor Square Master Plan. (The plan, which remains adopted Port policy, is available on the Port’s website.) The plan includes buildings up to 55-feet tall for private residential use close to the marsh.

If elected, I promise to protect Puget Sound, protect the Edmonds Marsh and be courteous and responsive to constructive input.

What in your background prepares you for the position?

I have over 20 years of experience as an elected official, including nearly a decade of service on the Edmonds City Council. I served as City Council president and chair of the Council Finance Committee. I have earned a reputation for keeping a very close eye on finances.

I have attended numerous Port meetings as a City Council representative or alternate, and I have done the same for WRIA 8 (salmon recovery) meetings. I have reviewed the Port commission minutes for the last several years, and attended recent commission meetings.

I have an economics degree from Whitman College and a law degree from the UW School of Law. I am a member of the Washington bar.

In light of the city turning down the Master Plan a while back, what do you think the future holds for the port and its redevelopment?

The Port has not rescinded or significantly improved the Harbor Square Master Plan since it was rejected by the City Council in 2013. Instead, the Port simply added an epilogue to the plan, explaining that the Port will retain the plan “until such time as the City Council may invite a more reasonable outcome.”

The Port commission minutes of March 27 show that improving the plan is still being blocked, with the incumbent Port commissioner stating, “The Port should not have to change its plan because someone else does not like it.”

If elected, I will seek to reopen the Harbor Square Master Plan for public input and revision. The goal will be a plan that not only makes money, but also addresses other community priorities such as protection of the marsh, marsh access, helping connect downtown with the waterfront and other priorities the public may identify.

Have you attended Sea Jazz concerts and gone whale-watching on Puget Sound Express?

I look forward to doing both. I understand that when the city of Lynnwood posted information about the whale-watching trips on its website, the link attracted a large response. The whale-watching service provides a good example of tourism as a form of economic development.

What is your position on both the Edmonds Marsh and the daylighting of Willow Creek? Do you support the buffer recommendations as they stand now?

It is important to protect the marsh and to daylight Willow Creek. As I’ve noted, a healthy marsh can absorb carbon and provide salmon habitat. An unhealthy marsh can emit carbon and will not support salmon.

I support a buffer of at least 110 feet around the marsh. The Department of Ecology guidelines call for a 150-foot minimum buffer, but Port residents seem willing to accept 110 feet as a compromise.

List a few top priorities for the Port going forward.

The Port needs to maintain quality marina and property management operations, but the marsh is the most important issue. For example, a poor decision on moorage rates could be quickly corrected, but a poor decision impacting the marsh may be impossible to fix.

Any other information you want to provide?

I have been endorsed by the Sierra Club, the National Women’s Political Caucus and the 32nd District Democrats. I would like to thank those organizations, and everyone who has helped with this campaign. Please vote Petso for Port. It is important.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments (0)
If you wish to comment, please login.