Astoria Port commissioners will make a choice Tuesday that will directly impact the board’s makeup after interviewing seven candidates who seek to fill an opening created by Robert Mushen’s recent resignation.
The interviews begin at 4 p.m. and commissioners will make the appointment afterward. While interviewing, the candidates need to clearly articulate their vision for the Port, and in making their selection, commissioners must seek leadership qualities that will help reverse the Port’s problems of the past.
That past has been plagued by divisiveness and a lack of direction, but the May election put the Port on a new heading. In the election, the seats of commissioners James Campbell, Stephen Fulton and John Raichl were up for grabs. Raichl didn’t seek re-election, and Fulton ran against Campbell rather than try to retain his seat. Campbell soundly defeated Fulton, and voters decidedly chose Frank Spence and Dirk Rohne over opponents Pat O’Grady and Dick Hellberg, whose platforms aligned with Fulton’s. Spence, Rohne and Campbell are joined on the commission with Bill Hunsinger, who was also an ally of Fulton.
O’Grady, a longshoreman, farmer and mechanic, is seeking the appointment. Others are: John Lansing, a former longtime Port budget committee member whose background is financial services; Robert Johnston, advocacy coordinator for NorthWest Senior & Disability Services in Astoria, who has served as a McMinnville city councilor and Yamhill County commissioner; Robert Stevens, a retired U.S. Coast Guard captain and former commander of the cutter Resolute when it was stationed in Astoria; Pamela Wev, a land use planner and economic development consultant who moved to Astoria in 2014; Russ Earl, a land developer and former Clatsop County commissioner and Seaside planning commissioner; and Ronald Meyer, 87, a retired machinist, inventor and designer of lighting and hospital equipment.
The Port is poised for progress, and commissioners should use the opportunity to take another step toward it with the choice they make.