Hopefuls emerge for Port vacancy

Seven candidates have applied for a vacancy on the Port of Astoria Commission.

Seven candidates have emerged to fill a position on the Port of Astoria Commission left vacant earlier this month after the resignation of Robert Mushen for health reasons.

The Port will interview each of the candidates at 4 p.m. Tuesday and appoint one directly after the interviews.

During a tense meeting in April, Mushen, who was the commission’s president, experienced a blood pressure spike and had to leave. He was unable to regularly attend meetings and participate in the governing body after the health scare and chose to step down.

John Lansing, who has spent his career in the financial services sector, served on the Port’s budget committee from 2003 until late last year, when he abruptly walked out and subsequently resigned after being called a stooge of Port staff by former Commissioner Stephen Fulton. “I have a proven interest in the Port and its future and believe I can bring significant benefits to the port based upon my unique experiences and qualifications,” Lansing wrote in his application.

Former Port Commission candidate Pat O’Grady, a longshoreman, farmer and mechanic who lost out to Commission President Frank Spence in May’s special district election, said in his application that he can work respectfully with others and just wants to make the Port better for the public.

Robert Johnstone, a former McMinnville city councilor, Yamhill County commissioner and advocacy coordinator and grant writer for NorthWest Senior & Disability Services in Astoria, said that his lengthy history of public leadership could be useful during a transitional period on the Port Commission. He also serves on the Clatsop County Charter Review Committee.

Robert Stevens, a former U.S. Coast Guard captain and commander of the cutter Resolute when the ship was stationed in Astoria, served 34 years in the Coast Guard and U.S. Navy and recently retired from training personnel on offshore drilling platforms in emergency management. “I strongly desire the local engagement as an opportunity to contribute to the Port and the local maritime community,” Stevens wrote in his application.

Pamela Wev, a land use planner and economic development consultant who moved to Astoria in 2014, wrote in her application that she was motivated to apply by a concern over negative publicity for the Port, a commitment to bring strategic thinking, the need for a fresh perspective and support for the staff.

Russ Earl, a land developer and former Clatsop County commissioner and Seaside planning commissioner, had applied to fill one of the vacancies left by Jack Bland and Ric Gerttula when the two resigned within weeks of one another in 2014. The positions were eventually filled by Mushen and former Port Commissioner John Raichl.

Ronald Meyer, 87, a retired machinist, inventor and designer of lighting and hospital equipment, said he has closely followed the financial difficulties of the county and the United States.