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Walla Walla County Port of Walla Walla Commissioner District 1

4-year term in counties with over 100,000 population; 4 or 6 year term in smaller counties. Salary varies with district. The Port District is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the port facilities within its jurisdiction. The commission sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional Port Director and the professional staff. One of commission's main duties is the adoption of the district's budget and proposal of any port levies to be placed on the ballot to the people. The commission sets policies and approves all spending via the budget, whether for operations or capital items or public facility maintenance and improvements. The council also sets salaries for district employees.

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    Kip Kelly

  • Peter Swant

Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major issues facing the port?

How do you want to address these issues?

What part should your district play in your area’s environmental health?

How, if at all, will the changing climate affect your port and its environs?

What experiences have you had that prepares you for this position?

Phone (509) 240-5118
Town where you live Walla Walla, Washington
Experience (300 characters max) I hold a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Washington State University and an MBA from Seattle University. In addition, I'm an instrument-rated pilot. During my 36-year career with Coffey Communications, I've represented the company before the nation's leading healthcare firms.
In short, I've always been interested in the work of the Port. With degrees in engineering and business, the field of economic development lets me draw from both disciplines. And, with a life-long love of aviation, I'll enjoy contributing to any project related to the airport. In addition, given the Port's invaluable contribution to the economic well-being of the county, the Commissioner's role would give me the opportunity to give back to the community in a meaningful way.
In a number of meetings that I've had with area businesses, the lack of affordable housing is a common concern. Those costs act as barriers to job growth by impacting employee retention as well as recruitment efforts. A reliable labor pool with diverse skills is essential to those same businesses, now and in the future. Declining grade school enrollment in Walla Walla Public Schools has the district contemplating the closure of an elementary campus. Should that trend be reflected Valley-wide over a period of time, today's enrollment issue will become tomorrow's labor issue. At some point in the future, a reliable supply of water to the Valley will become an acute issue. With a system that relies on surface water augmented by wells, it makes sense for all local entities to continue promoting conservation today while exploring viable options for additional storage capacity for tomorrow.

None of these issues will be solved in a vacuum by the Port. Each will require a community-wide effort by public- and private-sector entities working in concert with each other. Fortunately, Walla Walla County has a history of collaborative efforts in this regard.
The conservation of resources should be taken into account on every infrastructure project conducted by the Port. For example, consider roundabouts on roadway projects and incorporate energy saving measures on all retrofits of existing Port properties.
As I've touched on previously, the supply of water is an issue and will become more acute over time with or without the impact of climate change. As important as water is to the general public, its importance is magnified for agricultural businesses and industries that rely on it in their manufacturing processes. In both instances, any disruption or curtailment of the water supply will have negative impacts on the economic health of the region.
My education, training, current Port involvement, and work experience align exceptionally well with the Commissioner's role. With a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering and an MBA, I'm equally comfortable reviewing a set of plans or a balance sheet. And, as an instrument-rated pilot, I'll be able to contribute in conversations with the FAA regarding airport infrastructure. Additionally, as a member of the Port's Air Travel Coalition, I've participated in ongoing dialogue with Alaska Airlines regarding our local market. Over my 36-year career with Coffey Communications, I've represented the firm before the nation's leading hospital and health insurance companies. Those interactions have helped hone my verbal and written communication skills and enable me to feel at ease in presentations to large and diverse audiences.
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