The Port of Olympia commission is expected to address the commissioner appointment process after April 1, the effective date of Commissioner Sue Gunn’s resignation.
That was the thinking shared at Thursday’s port work session. Not only will the process be discussed after April 1, a special commission meeting likely will be called to discuss the next steps, port Executive Director Ed Galligan said Thursday.
Thursday’s work session was business as usual for the port, including meeting protocol. Because Gunn technically is still a commissioner until April 1, Commissioner George Barner made a motion to excuse her from the meeting, but Commissioner Bill McGregor, true to recent form, declined to second the motion.
After the meeting, he again defended his reasons for not excusing Gunn, a process that began Feb. 17 and would have resulted in her removal from the commission had it continued for 60 days, according to state law.
But Gunn, who has been recovering from open-heart surgery since Dec. 18 and had planned to return by March 31, instead announced her resignation last Friday.
“There has been considerable pressure on me from the port, and from one of the commissioners, to return rapidly, which is not conducive to the extensive healing needed,” she said in her letter last week. “It’s necessary to take the time required to recover from this complex medical event.”
The port commission had previously excused her up until Feb. 16.
“I wish her well. I really do,” said McGregor about his reaction to Gunn’s resignation.
But he added that because the port has a three-member commission, he needed to take steps to maintain a commission quorum, especially if something should happen to either him or Commissioner Barner. If the port had a five-person commission, Gunn’s absence wouldn’t have been an issue, he said.
Barner said he was surprised, stunned and disappointed in Gunn’s decision. He described her as bright and a commissioner who had her own agenda and issues.
“She did a good job and raised our consciousness,” he said, particularly on agricultural issues the port should explore. “I’m saddened by her decision,” Barner added.
Meanwhile, the commission appointment process might be similar to the one that appointed McGregor.
In 2006, after Commissioner Steve Pottle’s resignation, the port solicited applications and received about 15 applicants. That number was winnowed to four finalists, and then finalists were interviewed in public by the commission before McGregor got the job.
McGregor, who was director of facilities at Saint Martin’s University at the time, also was the port’s former director of operations.
A check of Olympian archives shows the appointment process then lasted from Sept. 6 to Nov. 28, or just less than 90 days. The port has 90 days from April 1 to make an appointment or that job will fall to Thurston County commissioners.