PGST Director of Economic Development resigns

LITLLE BOSTON — His new boss says it’s time for a change and he agrees.

For Tom Karwaki, who — until Oct. 2 — served as the Port Gamble S’Klallam’s director of economic development, the well-known chant “Obama, Obama,” is more than a presidential plea. It’s a call to action.

Karwaki, 54, said he put in his notice of resignation from the tribe to take a post serving the presidential campaign for Barack Obama to “assure the safety of the world,” he said.

With northern Virginia the slated destination, Karwaki said the next step in his life brings about a new challenge: “changing Virginia into a blue state.”

Before taking his post at the tribe one year ago, Karwaki said he spent more than 20 years in northern Virginia as vice-chair for a democratic committee and worked for Virginia Governor Mark Warner and Democratic Congressional candidate Gerry Connolly. Karwaki said he’s also worked for California’s Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the House of Representatives.

“I’ve learned so much from working with the tribes,” Karwaki said. “I’m a catalyst. My job is really to be putting people together to develop economic development plans. I’m part salesman, part planner, part politician.”

An economist by training, Karwaki worked to coordinate investment opportunities for the tribe and establish business-to-business relationships.

Most recently he managed PGDAccess, which provides ethernet broadband and high-speed Internet access to the tribe’s reservation, casino and Port of Kingston. The service is a reseller of Kitsap Public Utility District’s fiber optics. According to, PGDAccess aims to serve residential homes off the reservation as well.

“The S’Klallam people are a strong people and have a lot of resources and assets,” Karwaki said. “They are really trying to obtain economic sufficiency and self-determination.”

Although Karwaki is thrilled about working for the Obama campaign, he looks forward to returning to Kingston.

Speculation that he’s looking to buy a house and move from his current residence in Seattle is “a very true rumor,” he said.

“This is a nice neighborhood area,” he said. “I hope that the community and the tribe can grow together in a mutually beneficial manner.”

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