Poulsbo port commissioner resigns after allegedly vandalizing Chiefstick memorial

Mark DeSalvo, the Port of Poulsbo commissioner who allegedly vandalized a memorial to Stonechild Chiefstick last weekend, has announced he will be stepping down from his seat on the commission.

“Due to a number of personal stressors in my life over the last six months, I need to focus on myself and personal reflection while working on being a better version of myself. To this end I am stepping down and resigning as a port commissioner,” DeSalvo said in the email sent to port staff Tuesday. “I know commissioners Singer and Green will do a great job going forward,” he continued. “I will be praying for the healing of our community.”

DeSalvo was arrested Saturday, July 11 when, according to court documents, officers with the Poulsbo Police Department responded to Muriel Iverson Williams Waterfront Park around 11 p.m. to find DeSalvo shouting about Chiefstick — the Native American man with ties to the Suquamish Tribe who was shot and killed by police last year during a July 3 fireworks show — and smashing glass prayer candles that had been left in remembrance.

According to a statement of probable cause, when police contacted DeSalvo, he said the memorial items in the park were placed there “illegally,” and claimed he was exercising his freedom of speech and that it “was time for the memorial to go.”

Detecting the presence of alcohol on DeSalvo’s breath, one officer inquired how much the commissioner had consumed that night, to which DeSalvo allegedly replied, “enough.”

In a Tuesday interview, Poulsbo Police Chief Dan Schoonmaker shot down DeSalvo’s assertions that the items were left illegally, calling the alleged actions by the commissioner both “criminal” and “frustrating.”

“This is the second arrest we’ve made related to somebody vandalizing the property that is left down there at the memorial,” Schoonmaker said. “The family, the tribe and the community had a very meaningful event there just a week ago, in which they were mourning the loss of a father, a brother, a son, a friend; that place there is for the family and the friends of Mr. Chiefstick.”

Of the allegations against the port commissioner, Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said, “What he did was stupid, very thoughtless, we have tried very hard to close the gap between us and the Suquamish Tribe and to have something like this happen at this time is unbelievably painful and it was thoughtless illegal behavior.”

“No elected official should behave in this way,” Erickson said, only about an 90 minutes before DeSalvo tendered his resignation. “I think the port should do some examination and I think that he should do some real soul searching as to whether he has the integrity to do the job.”

Documents filed in Kitsap County Superior court also say that DeSalvo informed responding officers that he was an elected official and later told them “I’m a federal law enforcement officer too.”

In fact, DeSalvo is a Federal Flight Deck Officer, a pilot approved to carry a firearm and whose limited commission applies only on an aircraft.

The Port of Poulsbo is expected to issue a statement regarding the incident at its Thursday, July 16 meeting.

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