Commissioner appointment process will be focus of Port of Olympia meeting Monday

The Port of Olympia Commission on Monday is expected to decide which approach to take to appoint a new member to the District 3 seat after the April 1 resignation of Commissioner Sue Gunn.

Commissioners George Barner and Bill McGregor will be presented with three options, according to agenda materials for the meeting.

The port could decide to appoint someone by June 8 or take the full 90 days alloted and appoint someone by June 30. If no appointment is made by then, the decision would fall to the Thurston County Commission.

The port commission likely will choose the first route. If so, here’s how it would work:

Friday: Begin to accept applications. Applicants must be registered voters and have lived in District 3 for at least a year prior to appointment.

April 29: Conduct port tours for interested candidates.

May 8: Close the application period.

May 12: Distribute applications for commissioner review.

May 21: Hold meeting, if needed, to evaluate applicants for interviews.

May 26: Select applicants for interviews.

May 27: Publish list of finalists for public review.

Week of June 1: Interview finalists in special meeting.

June 8: Select commissioner at regular meeting.

Because Gunn resigned before the local candidate filing deadline of May 15, the District 3 seat is also up for election. The winner would complete the final two years of Gunn’s term. A check of the state Public Disclosure Commission website on Sunday showed no one has yet filed to run for the seat.

The appointee to the District 3 seat will hold it until the general election is certified Nov. 24. Commissioners earn $500 per month, plus $114 per meeting, up to 96 meetings a year. Total annual compensation is not to exceed $16,944, according to port data.

Gunn resigned April 1, saying she needed more time to recover from open-heart surgery that she had undergone in December.

It was during that absence, which was longer than expected because Gunn suffered some complications that forced her back into the hospital, that McGregor decided to stop excusing her from meetings.

A commissioner can lose the job, according to state law, if he or she is unexcused from meetings for 60 days.

In Gunn’s case, the 60-day period began Feb. 17.

McGregor has defended his position, saying he needed to protect the commission quorum. If something should happen to either him or Barner during her absence, then no port business could be conducted, he has said.

Some Gunn supporters criticized the commission for what they called “dirty politics.” Many of those same supporters also have asked the commission to appoint someone with qualities like those of Gunn, including concerns for the environment and transparency in government.