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Kingston port candidates would take different approaches to economic development
KINGSTON — The two candidates for Kingston Port Commission District 1 agree on aspects of the port’s future — it needs to focus on economic development, for example — but not necessarily on the approach.
Bruce MacIntyre and Nels Sultan are on the Nov. 5 ballot.
Recently retired, MacIntyre had a varied career. He worked as an educator in Bellevue and Montana, ran his own electronics store in Helena, Mont., and was a lawyer in the Seattle area for nearly 20 years until retirement.
“I’ve always been a service-oriented person,” MacIntyre said. “I like helping people solve problems.”
He added, “I realized there was an opportunity here. It’s an opportunity to guide the next few years to help shape how Kingston will look like.”
MacIntyre holds no agenda coming into the job, he said.
“I think that no matter what candidates think, events will overtake them,” MacIntyre said. “You can have a grand agenda and you will spend your time dealing with whatever comes up.”
There are a few projects, however, that MacIntyre said the port should engage. For example, the recently acquired park. He would like to see it developed in a manner that draws people out of the ferry lot, into Kingston, and, in turn, its businesses.
MacIntyre notes the port’s mission statement which includes the pursuit of “economic development opportunities.”
“The port has some arrows in its quiver that it can use, that other business can’t — to be a facilitator to bring outside business in,” MacIntyre said.
“I don’t want another strip mall like Silverdale has developed, but places that provide jobs for when our kids graduate from high school and college.”
He points to the port’s waterfront properties and said they should be developed with business in mind, such as a waterfront hotel or restaurant.
“I don’t think the port should run those businesses, but look into those things as a public-private partnership,” he said.
“It would be nice to have more tourism facilities to attract people here.”
MacIntyre said tourism could also lead to new residents moving to the area.
In addition to tourism, he would like the port to help facilitate partnerships with organizations such as local economic development council and the Kitsap Economic Development Alliance.
“It’s a sales force the port itself cannot afford to have,” MacIntyre said.
The port should behave more like a business, he said, and with a marina, parking lots and property to manage, it already is one.
“I think for the port to really fulfill its potential, it has to realize that it is a business and it has to rethink its approach to things and think like a business,” he said. “To view the port not as just a recreational facility but as a business facility and get the maximum out of it.”
A 15-year Kingston resident, Sultan raised his family in the area while continuing his career as a coastal and civil engineer.
Through his job and time on the Kingston Ferry Advisory Committee, he believes he has a good foundational knowledge for the port gig.
But he also has some critiques. Sultan believes focus has excessively been on the marina. Rather, it should be on the Kingston community as a whole, especially when it comes to economic development.
“I think the Port of Kingston should do a better job of spreading the wealth around and supporting the locals,” Sultan said. “The port is too insular and inward looking.”
Sultan would like to push parking lots and ferry holding lanes upland, and use the waterfront for mixed uses of residential, retail and trails.
The port needs to actively attract business to its district too. Sultan points to the region’s heavy economic hitters such as Boeing, Costco, and Amazon.com.
“We have some great quality employers in this region and Kingston is not sharing in the prosperity,” Sultan said.
While big businesses likely won’t have an office in Kingston, he said, the area could be home to their suppliers.
Sultan said Kingston ultimately needs more than tourism.
“You hear a lot about tourism and that’s the focus around Kingston,” he said. “I think we can do better than that. Tourism is typically seasonal, low-wage jobs.”
Sultan said the port should partner with regional government organizations such as the Kitsap Regional Council.
“We are an urban growth area and we should get a fair share of the federal dollars that come down,” he said.
Aside from engineering an economic Kingston, Sultan expresses opinions about how the commission should operate.
He does not believe commissioners should be able to keep their boats at the Port of Kingston marina.
“It’s a conflict of interest,” he said, noting that he believes — despite the port’s opposing view — that slip fees at the marina are set below market value and are subsidized by other income from taxes, parking fees, and leases.
That’s not the only change he believes commissioners should undergo.
“I think the commissioners should be off the payroll and strictly volunteers,” Sultan said, noting that in addition to $100 a meeting, commissioners get health insurance and travel expenses. It adds up to thousands of dollars going out the door each year, he said.
“There are 5,000 people or so in this district and I think they deserve better than this sleepy little port district that is not spending their money well,” Sultan said.
“Get your head out of the marina and help your district like you are supposed to.”
nBruce MacIntyre: www.mac4kingston.com.
nNels Sultan: www.sites.google.com/site/nels4port.