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PORT OF TACOMA Commissioner Pos. 1

4-year term Salary $21,600The Port District is responsible for the maintenance and operation of the port facilities within their jurisdiction. The commission sets the general policies of the district, which are implemented by the hired professional Port Director and their 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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    Eric Holdeman (NP) Emergency Manager

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    John McCarthy (NP) Retired Judge

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Biographical Information

Why did you decide to run for this position?

What are three major issues facing the port?

Of the three, which one is the most urgent?

What is your primary interest in the operation of the port?

Phone (253) 376-6683
YouTube Video
Town where you live Puyallup
Experience (300 characters max) Today I serve as Director, Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER’s) Center for Regional Disaster Resilience (CRDR); Former Director of Security, Port of Tacoma; Former Director, King County Office of Emergency Management; A nationally known Emergency Manager; Retired, U.S. Army Infantry Officer
I worked at the Port of Tacoma for four years as the Director of Security. While serving in that position I saw that the strategic direction for the Port of Tacoma was flawed. In 2009 the NYK Terminal construction was cancelled due to cost overruns and an inability to complete the project on time and in budget. This left the voters of Pierce County with a $700M debt. Then I observed how the two Ports of Tacoma and Seattle were in a destructive competition in which only the shipping lines were winning. I saw the Maytown rail expansion in Thurston County collapsed due to public opposition. This $20M failed investment and a lack of transparency in how the port operates was repeated again with the Methanol Plant construction when the Port of Tacoma failed to truly consult with the public concerning a major project that had significant community impacts. All of the above motivated me to run for Port Commissioner due to my ability to bring public and private organizations together.
1. Maintaining a vibrant maritime port that supports well-paying family wage jobs in Pierce County. Canadian ports are posed to assume primary leadership in maritime cargo here in the Pacific Northwest. To compete with them we will need to make the Northwest Seaport Alliance a working reality.

2. The Port of Tacoma has lost the trust of many people in the greater Pierce County community. To be successful in the future will require a change of heart and operations that accentuates really being transparent in all our dealings with the public and in the future industrial development in the Tideflats. Term limits for Port Commissioners will help with this process.

3. Industrial lands are quickly disappearing in the greater Puget Sound region. Maintaining the industrial area of the Tideflats is important. In preserving this land for industrial purposes, an emphasis on environmental stewardship is required.
The loss of trust in our society is an epidemic within our national and regional community. We need persons with a commitment to strong ethical government to serve in elected positions. Trust is not easily restored in a family, business or community. It requires a commitment to building personal relationships with individuals and organizations that represent different interests in this region. Leaders need to be approachable, and willing to listen to a wide variety of opinions within a community and then be very transparent about the decisions being made and the reasons for those decisions. The time of smoke filled backroom deals is over. It should not take sunshine laws to be what makes organizations transparent—it requires a commitment from the elected leaders of governments to show a change of heart and behaviors. I expect to provide this type of change leadership to the Port of Tacoma’s Commission.
From an “operational perspective” I am committed to making the port a safe and secure place to work and to be a good neighbor to the non-maritime businesses in the Tideflats. Everyone should go home at the end of their work shift healthy and well. The port can be a very dangerous place to work. There have been significant injuries and even deaths in the past. I will work to make “Safety First” not just a motto, but a priority for all of the port’s operations. We need to be seen as a leader in safety and security here in our community. Having observed port operations first hand in the past as a member of the staff, I know much more can be done to promote both safety and security. When an organization is committed only to being compliant, that means they are only doing the absolute minimum required by law. I expect to go beyond compliance to make safety and security a priority for the port. Non-maritime businesses need to be part of our safety and security efforts.
Phone (253) 677-3377
Town where you live Tacoma
Experience (300 characters max) Judge, Pierce County Superior Court, 1997 to 2014 Judge, District Court, 1992 to 1997 Port of Tacoma Commissioner, 1983 to 1992 President, State Public Port Association, 1990 to 1991 Longshore Worker, Port of Tacoma, 1965 to 1975 Member, State Bar Association Commisssion on Judicial Conduct
I am passionate about the Port. My family has worked there for over 75 years. The Port is at a critical point in decisions about its future use and development. I want to be part of making the decisions that will set the course for the next 100 years for our children and grandchildren. I made difficult decisions as a judge. Based on my professional experience as a former Port Commissioner and a Judge, as well as my passion for the Port and our community, I am well suited to be a leader to make sure our port continues as a working waterfront, growing more high paying Port maritime-industrial jobs. Moving forward, we must support good job growth while we protect the safety of the people who work at and live near the Port, and as we advance our values of environmental protection, conservation, and innovation. I firmly believe that we can continue to build an international maritime-industrial Port which is safe for workers, the environment, and the community.
1) Jobs: Growing good livable wage jobs in strong working waterfront while improving a world class international clean maritime-industrial Port.

2) Safety: Ensuring the safety of the people who live and work in and near our Port while building the public’s confidence in the Port and its operations.

3) Environment: Continuing to protect and enhance the environment, fisheries clean air, and clean water, with responsible environmental conservation and mitigation.
Safety and protecting our environment are always the most important responsibilities. None of these priorities exist in a vacuum, and ensuring safety for our community means protecting the environment. If we fail to deliver family wage jobs while protecting workers and communities, or do these things at the expense of a healthy environment, then we are not meeting the high standards that I have for the Port of Tacoma.
The primary challenges for operating the Port include (1) increased competition from Canada and California; (2) lack of certainty for the future allowable uses and scale of activities; (3) the efficient transportation of freight; and (4) maintaining job growth while ensuring public health & safety, clean air, and clean water. We need to (1) work with Labor, shipping and local government to ensure the Port improves infrastructure and creates partnerships to ensure the long-term growth of container traffic; and (2) lead in strategic planning to set a path for prosperity by incorporating the interests of local communities, while advancing job growth and environmental protection; and (3) the Port must complete improvements to SR 509 and SR 167, to improve traffic flow for freight and neighbors; and (4) the Port must ensure that development is safe for workers and neighbors. We must protect the water and fisheries in Puget Sound, as well as decrease our carbon footprint. logo


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