Commissioners focus on community benefit

Commissioners focus on community benefit

  • Thursday, May 10, 2018 1:30pm
  • Opinion

It is often voiced that elected officials seem to no longer understand the term “public service.”

On a daily basis, we see evidence that those elected for public office are more often than not in office for self-serving purposes. So it is refreshing, that in our own little Port of Poulsbo district, we are currently experiencing something quite different.

This past January, when the new commission was seated, we witnessed a complete paradigm shift. From the very first meeting, positive changes were set in motion — short-term as well as long-term. The first was surprising; that was when Commissioner Jonothan Saunders announced that he would not be collecting a salary for his first year of office.

Fast forward a bit, and we now see Commissioner Saunders donating yet more of his time by volunteering to take on the temporary task of maintenance manager while seeking someone to fill that position. Not only does he manage the maintenance staff, he has also be seen swinging a hammer on the docks, assisting the crew with the backlog of deferred maintenance at the port marina.

Commissioner Mark DeSalvo has long been known for being readily available to listen to and act on issues presented to him outside of official meetings; taking his own personal time to meet with concerned licensees and taxpayers. He was the catalyst in the formation of the Poulsbo Boaters Association, encouraging input from those who are the most affected by decisions made by the commission.

How many commissioners don wetsuits and dive their breakwaters for a personal inspection? We have possibly the only one who has done so. Commissioner DeSalvo often takes personal, non-compensated time to meet with local businesses to work out problems and get input from the community.

The commission is now more receptive of public input; as a matter of fact, they are actively seeking it. Citizen advisory committees have been formed, with a commissioner heading each one; committees made up of people drawn from the community, to advise, review and reflect on specific areas of interest and concern.

Public input is being utilized for the betterment of the port. The move to holding the port commission meetings at city hall to improve public access is brilliant. This is public service in action. In our own little port district.

The commission is also moving ahead to ensure that the 50-plus registered voters residing within the three marinas on Liberty Bay who, due to the way the district lines were originally drawn are not in the district, be annexed into the district. This will ensure that these citizens, who are directly affected by port decisions, will be able to vote for those elected officials who make those decisions. This will also allow any of those 50-plus voters to run for commissioner in the future, should they decide to do so.

It is ironic that most of the marina the port owns and runs has not actually been in the port district. There will be no increased cost to those who live within the marinas to be annexed, no change in taxes to property owners, no increased revenue for the port — just citizens gaining the ability to vote. Public service in action.

So how do we, the licensees in the port marina, feel about all this? Good, very good. After several bumpy years, we now see the port moving forward in a positive way, addressing the health of the infrastructure and Liberty Bay as a whole — in a more rational, reasonable and fiscally responsible manner. Kudos and a big thank you.

— Pamela Benson, SV Spirit of Freedom, C-dock, Poulsbo Boaters Association.