Five candidates have thrown their hats into the ring hoping to serve on port commissions throughout North Kitsap, but in a strange turn of events, all of the candidates are running unopposed. The North Kitsap Herald reached out to each of the candidates in order to better understand how they plan to serve their respective port districts.
Why are you running for port commission?
Gary Walker (Port of Indianola): I am running for port commissioner to replace John Lane, as he has served for 6 years, and now is ready to move on. He has been a very good influence on me, and I want to continue the work that he and the other commissioners have started. He invited me to help with the work parties that did repair work on the Indianola dock, and I met a lot of great folks willing to volunteer time and effort to keep the dock in good repair.
Lena Hunt (Port of Keyport position 1): I was asked by the other two commissioners to take over for a commissioner who retired early. I was confirmed a few months ago so that’s how I was initially brought into it.
I am running now because we have a project going that I really want to be a part of and that has really drawn me into the position. I want to act as a bridge between the project and the community.
Brian Watne (Port of Keyport position 2): I’ve served two terms for the port of Keyport thus far and feel an obligation to be involved in the community. I want to make sure we keep up with community access and that we get our facilities up to a level that’s good for all in the community.
Steve Heacock ( Port of Kingston): I have been involved in planning efforts in the Kingston community for over 20 years as a member and co-chair of the Kingston Citizen’s Advisory Council. I was appointed in March of 2018 to fulfill the vacated Port of Kingston Commissioner District 1 position, through the end of 2019 and I intend to continue for the next 6-year term to bring my planning background and natural resource talents to bear to help our wonderful community thrive. As a defined Unincorporated Urban Growth Area, and now a designated major transportation center connecting to east Puget Sound, our community will see development, traffic, and infrastructure challenges which need to be correctly planned for our future.
Mark Singer (Port of Poulsbo): I have been a tenant of the Port of Poulsbo for 12 years and love the location and many great people I have met here. I am very interested in the future of the Port and the city of Poulsbo. The Port exists because of the town and the town because of the Port.
What are the biggest issues facing your port?
Gary Walker: The biggest issue is maintenance on the dock and the costs for that maintenance. It will be a continuing effort for many years.
Lena Hunt: Keeping up with the other marinas and their health. I think we are one of the last in the area to update our port. We are kind of limited in terms of offering up a healthy port for boaters in this community and I think this will present a challenge for us along with the boat ramp project.
Another thing that is concerning and I don’ t know how I or the port can play into this issue, but as a boater, we seem to have an issue with derelict boats. I don’t know how much we can do as a commission, but I think that may be a hot button issue for some people.
Brian Watne: The biggest issue is that we have a failing boat ramp. We’ve been working for four years to get a new one installed and were just finally able to secure a grant and are currently in the process of having the ramp replaced. Construction is set to begin sometime in December or January.
Steve Heacock: Ports throughout the region have aging infrastructure and facilities which will require maintenance and replacement. As a Port Commissioner, I am committed to making sure the infrastructure and improvements at the Port of Kingston will be adequately financed, planned and maintained for future generations to enjoy. Our challenge is to plan these projects with adequate funding and resources within the time-limitations. This commission is dedicated to making sure we continue to support economic development opportunities in our District as well as maintain what we have worked so hard to create.
Mark Singer: Infrastructure maintenance and sea wall replacement. Both important for the survival of the port. Increased revenue without increased tax or slip increase is necessary to handle infrastructure maintenance successfully.
What insight will you bring to the port?
Gary Walker: I bring 40 years of management experience running a successful medium-sized corporation. This has taught me perseverance in starting and completing tasks. I also am aware of all the community concerns about preserving the dock for future generations. The vast majority of Indianola residents have fond memories of time spent on the dock.
Lena Hunt: A fresh perspective coming from a boating community and looking at the issues from both the land and water sides.
Brian Watne: I have 12 years of experience already. I’ve been boating since I was a child and fished commercially and spend a lot of time boating up and down the west coast. I’ve always been involved in different levels of community service. When I moved to Keyport 15 years ago I wanted to get involved in the community.
Steve Heacock: The Port of Kingston is uniquely suited to assist with area infrastructure improvements. We have provided the basis and facilities for a high-quality marina with world-class service. We have partnered with Kitsap transit to provide a transit center hub to downtown Seattle, and we are progressing with our partners at Kitsap County Public Works to provide a regional Stormwater facility which will provide Stormwater quality and quantity control for our 98-acre watershed area. I plan to continue to bring my partnership-building and planning skills to our port district.
Mark Singer: As a boater, I have firsthand experience of the needs and desires of a boater. Also, my many years of managing projects, funding, and people has given me the experience that will make me an asset to the port team.
What will be your primary focus as a commissioner?
Gary Walker: My primary focus will be to continue the work started by my predecessors, and to work to keep the traditions of the community intact, with respect to the dock.
Lena Hunt: The boat ramp project will be our main focus and I look forward to being a part of that.
Brian Watne: My primary focus will be to continue to upgrade the port facilities. We are hoping to put in a boarding ramp for boarding boats, as well as redoing the pier to make it more handicap accessible and hopefully putting in a public bathroom facility.
Steve Heacock: We have three primary tasks at hand for the coming years.
The number 1 task is to solve the traffic mess that is paralyzing the local businesses and residents in upper Kingston from severe seasonal traffic congestion. The Port of Kingston is currently leading a re-examination of a transportation traffic-calming plan with our partners at Washington State Department of Transportation, Washington State Ferries, Kitsap County, and Kitsap Transit to create a revised and modernized plan to build a holding lane facility outside of Kingston. We also need to seek funding to implement the plan and build the facility, as well as implement short-term solutions to immediately alleviate ferry back-up problems.
Number 2: we must keep our infrastructure well-maintained and strive to have port operations self-financed to not become a burden to ratepayers.
Number 3: the port needs to create a strategic plan with current and prospective partners for the development of new and innovative economic development opportunities in the district.
Mark Singer: To be an active listener and researcher, to understand issues and problems that allow me to provide informed input. The commissioner seat provides constituents’ eyes and ears to the running of the port. I will listen, learn, and provide honest and informed information to the public and always be ethical in my actions being a public servant.