This is the first post-Gearin election for the Port of Astoria Commission. The 2007 Port election was all about Port of Astoria Executive Director Peter Gearin, whom the commission had terminated. Commissioners who had allowed Gearin to break the law and had acquiesced to questionable management were turned out of office.

Now - in the wake of the Port's payment of fines in connection with Gearin's violation of the Clean Water Act and Gearin's own guilty plea in federal court - Port commissioners may enter a new era.

The tragedy of Peter Gearin is that he enunciated an intelligent new Port mission to be a marine services center. But after implementing elements of that concept, Gearin trashed his credibility.

In a similar vein, this post-Gearin commission runs the risk of fouling its own nest. The commission has an opportunity to move forward, but it is mortgaging that opportunity with bad behavior. In a nutshell, Port commissioners are training the rest of us to expect a replica of professional wrestling when they are in public session.

A letter on this page from Commissioner Kathy Sanders gives her perspective on the most recent fracas that Cassandra Profita has reported in our pages.

Of course there is more than one perspective on the incidents that Commissioner Sanders relates in her letter. An elected commission is a collegial body. Its communications and emotions are of a systemic nature, so everyone plays a hand in creating a bad outcome. But the most apparent aspect of the Port of Astoria Commission is a system rife with bad blood and unprofessional public behavior.

In this election, incumbent commissioners Dan Hess, Floyd Holcom and Larry Pfund have drawn challengers. While we have questioned some of the substance of the commission's agenda - such as the prudence of trying to purchase Tongue Point - the commissioners individually have the wherewithal to contribute to the Port's progress.

Holcom's opponent John Veenendaal makes a valuable observation when he says that Port Executive Director Jack Crider is too involved in managing board members, and board members are spending too much time managing operations.

It is time for the commission to behave more professionally. When you make your choices in these Port Commission races, we urge you to choose the person whom you believe will most help end the back-biting and counter-productive behavior.