The Port of Astoria Commission has delayed the search for an executive director until December, giving Will Isom, the finance director and interim leader, the inside track after positive reviews.

Isom was appointed interim executive director after Jim Knight resigned in June.

The Port recently contracted with the Special Districts Association of Oregon to conduct a search for a new director. But Dirk Rohne, the president of the commission, said the Port has latitude in how to proceed and might be better off waiting to see how Isom performs.

“In light of the solid performance of our current acting executive director, it may be that the best course of action for the Port of Astoria is to allow a longer period of time to pass for further evaluation and consideration of our acting executive director,” Rohne said Tuesday.

The delay will allow the agency to perform a thorough evaluation of Port staff, Rohne said. In the evaluation model, employees receive confidential, anonymous feedback from the people who work around them.

Other Port commissioners concurred with Rohne’s idea and his assessment of Isom. Commissioner Frank Spence was concerned about Isom’s dual roles, but Isom contracts some of his duties out.

Knight had fallen out of favor with local stakeholders and commissioners. Isom, a Knappa native who joined the Port as a staff accountant in 2015 from Columbia Memorial Hospital in Astoria, has received generally positive reviews.

When he was appointed interim executive director, Isom negotiated a lump-sum payment of $27,000 for every six months he fills in as interim, a 50% pay increase over his $106,000 salary. He also secured a guaranteed three-year contract at his current salary plus 3% annual pay raises if he returns to being the finance director, as well as his full contract if he is fired during the three-year period.

Edward Stratton is a reporter for The Astorian. Contact him at 971-704-1719 or

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