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Elliott takes office as Port of Kingston commissioner

From left, attorney John F. Mitchell administers the oath of office to Kingston Port Commissioner Walt Elliott, Jan. 25, in the Port of Kingston offices. - Johnny Walker
From left, attorney John F. Mitchell administers the oath of office to Kingston Port Commissioner Walt Elliott, Jan. 25, in the Port of Kingston offices.
— image credit: Johnny Walker

KINGSTON — Walt Elliott was sworn in Wednesday as a member of the Port of Kingston Commission.

Attorney John F. Mitchell administers the oath of office to Elliott during the commission’s first regular meeting of the year. Elliott was elected to the District 3 post in November; he succeeds Tom Coultas. The other commissioners are Marc Bissonnette and Pete DeBoer.

Port of Kingston commissioners serve six-year terms. They are empowered by state law to set objectives, policies and overall direction for the port district. They wield considerable authority: They can exercise the right of eminent domain, levy and collect assessments on property within the district without voter approval to provide services to the public, and issue bonds and impose excess levies for specific purposes.

Elliott outlined his priorities in a post-election column for the Kingston Community News.

“What will I do during my first year in office? My level best to be a darned good port commissioner,” he wrote.

“Here’s what I mean: 1. Be a team player. Pete and Marc have forgotten more than I know about the Port and I respect that. If there’s more than one side of a question, however, there’ll be disagreement. The key is to disagree without being disagreeable and be willing to learn. 2. Collaborate with the Port staff. They get the job done and, since no two commissioners can talk Port business outside of a public meeting, the staff’s our indispensable link. Learn from the staff and respect that. Listen, don't talk. Let people do their jobs and focus on doing my own job as commissioner instead. 3. Represent our community. Drop personal agendas and just get done what the community wants.  Community priorities will come from the Port’s Master Plan, and the public process to develop that plan is under way now.”

Elliott is a retired commanding officer of two naval vessels, ran a $600 million-per-year research company and started two small businesses. He is chairman of the Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee and is involved in numerous other community efforts.

He wants the port to be a good environmental steward: requiring biodegradable cleaners be used in the marina; work with Washington State Ferries to get treatment of stormwater runoff from the ferry holding lanes up to “Best Management Practice standards”; and offer boater education on environmental best practices.

He wants Kingston to push for Clean Marina certification; certified marinas are those proven to reduce and properly manage hazardous waste, conduct marina operations with the goal of protecting the environment, educate boaters on clean boating practices, and demonstrate innovative and environmental leadership.

He believes grant money is available to build an upland area where boats can be hauled out for repairs. “We shouldn’t have to go to Edmonds for essential work such as underwater repairs,” he said on his campaign mailer.

Elliott believes SoundRunner is an important component of economic revitalization. He wants the commission to stick to the passenger ferry’s business plan, which gives it three more years to become sustainable. “The plan for SoundRunner and progress in meeting goals needs to be tracked and reported to the public,” he said during the campaign. “If, after three years, SoundRunner isn’t self-sustaining with riders, partners and grants, the community needs to vote about (whether) a subsidy is acceptable and, if so, how much.”

He also wants the port to do more to encourage community involvement.

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