What does a Port commissioner do? | Port View

By David Preston | Oct 29, 2018
David Preston

Over the past seven years that I have been a Port commissioner, I have often been asked: What exactly a Port Commissioner does. Great question!

The short answer is that the commissioners form a policymaking and regulatory board that oversees the Port’s operations and activities to the benefit of the public. The full answer is a bit more complicated. More on that later.

Another question I’m often asked is why someone would want to be a Port commissioner. For me, it’s in my blood. When I was much younger, I spent hundreds of hours trout fishing year-round in Shell Creek.

It was much more fun than doing schoolwork. There were many summer days when my friends and I took our old inner tubes down to the beach and paddled around north of the jetty.

I lived for the water.

Puget Sound is not where most people learn to water ski, but I jumped at the chance. Yep, it’s cold.

There was a fishing pier inside the marina before it was rebuilt after the 1996 storm, in front of what is now Anthony’s.

A lot of fishing and fish stories happened there. At age 16, after saving money from working at the Fog Cutter restaurant (now Claire’s), I was able to save enough money to buy a 21-foot sailboat and get my own slip on A dock.

Numerous days were spent enjoying the Salish Sea with friends and family.

Now back to the bigger question. What exactly does a Port Commissioner do?

The Port is a public enterprise established to promote economic benefit and environmental stewardship of precious, and often vulnerable, shoreside properties. Our goal is to adopt visionary policies to create new opportunities for the future while protecting and preserving ecosystems and habitats under our direct control – which in our case is the marina and various commercial properties within the Port district.

At the Port of Edmonds, our policies and decision-making processes revolve around our core concepts of fiscal responsibility, environmental stewardship and economic development for our community, all while providing a quality experience to our customers.

Some of our responsibilities as commissioners include approving the budget, promoting innovative environmental practices, making decisions about Port property, being accountable to the residents of the Port District, and partnering with local organizations and groups.

The annual process for approving the Port budget can be extensive. Each year we approve the allocation of funds, determine rate adjustments, and authorize the tax levy amount.

It’s an open public process aided by experienced Port staff who frame the issues, crunch the numbers and make recommendations to the commission.

The annual budget process starts in August with a strategic plan review and operations assessment and continues until commissioners approve the final budget in November.

I realized I wanted to be a Port commissioner when I connected the dots between my love for the water and my passion for serving our community. I am immensely proud of the fact that over 800 jobs reside at the Port – the great majority of which are family wage jobs.

We also have an enviable environmental record at the Port of Edmonds, where we are proud to be both a Certified Clean Marina by the Clean Marina Washington program, and Leadership Clean Boatyard by the Clean Boating Foundation.

Serving the Port and Edmonds/Woodway communities is an honor, and the culmination of the dreams of my youth. I have a passion for the Port, and I believe I share that with many in our community.

My favorite thing about being a Port commissioner is building public value through responsible financial management, by creating jobs, providing the community with a wonderful waterfront experience, and simply by helping to make Edmonds an even better place by connecting our residents to the water.

An example of this is our recent success with Sea Scouts, a program that teaches seamanship and maritime heritage to the youth.

After several years of working to re-engage the local Sea Scouts chapter, we now have an energized crew of inspired young women and men, as well as new adult leadership.

David Preston is Port of Edmonds Commission President.


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