INDIANOLA — The Kitsap County Board of Commissioners is expected to appoint a member of the Indianola Port Commission Sept. 4.
The port commission’s sole member, Jeff Henderson, and County Commissioner Rob Gelder interviewed the three applicants for the vacant District 2 position on Thursday in a special public meeting in the Indianola Clubhouse. Approximately 40 residents attended.
The applicants — Eric Cookson, Susan Hancock and Susan Henry — sat together and were asked questions in a candidate forum format. Henderson and Gelder asked them what characteristics and qualities they felt were important to be commissioner; their vision for the port district; why they wanted to be a port commissioner; what changes they wanted to bring to the port district; and what background, experience and training they’d bring to the job.
Cookson is a command duty officer with the U.S. Coast Guard. Hancock is a community volunteer active with North Kitsap Fishline and the Suquamish Community Kitchen. Henry is an independent real estate broker.
Members of the audience asked two questions. Then, Henderson and Gelder met in closed session as residents left the building. Gelder will take the information gathered from the interviews and bring it to the County Commission Sept. 4 in an executive session. The executive session will allow the commissioners to "deliberate the pros and cons" of each candidate, Gelder said. Commissioners are expected to make an appointment following the executive session.
"I have every expectation to leave the session and take action, appointing a commissioner," Gelder said.
Cookson is a Port Commission candidate in the Nov. 5 election. His consideration for appointment raised concerns from Matthew Smith, a write-in candidate in the election.
Smith said he decided not to apply for appointment after talking to Henderson about a North Kitsap Herald editorial that stated a candidate in the Nov. 5 election should not be appointed lest he or she gain an unfair advantage on Election Day. He said he agreed and thought Henderson did too.
Henderson declined to share his thoughts about the candidates and said the appointment will be made solely by the County Commission. But Gelder said commissioners will "put a lot of weight on the opinion of [Henderson]."
Gelder said the candidates “should be commended for stepping up. It's a huge learning curve."
The appointed commissioner will serve until Nov. 26, when results of the Nov. 5 election are certified and the winner sworn in. But Gelder said whoever is appointed should stay involved after the appointment ends. This is the fifth appointment Gelder has been involved in. Shortly after taking office, he and the County Commission appointed Christine Rolfes to the state Senate, and appointed Drew Hansen to Rolfes’ state House seat. The County Commission appointed lawyer Steve Swann to the Poulsbo Port Commission in May 2012.
Of the Indianola Port Commission, now down to one of three members, Gelder said, “Hopefully, we'll be able to make a good appointment and get the commission back on track.”
The next Indianola Port Commission meeting is Sept. 10, 7 p.m. in the Indianola Clubhouse, Henderson said. The new commissioner and Henderson will open an application period for the District 3 vacancy, and then focus their attentions on the Indianola dock.
Within the “next several weeks,” engineers will bore into pilings to determine how much creosote they contain, and will conduct other tests to determine the structural integrity of the pilings. He expects a plan for improvement of the dock would be completed within a month of those tests.
With cross bracing, strapping and restrictions on foot traffic, Henderson said he believes the dock could be reopened before the improvements are made.
— Reporting by Kipp Robertson and Richard Walker
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