The three commissioners on Tuesday voted unanimously to offer the job to Les Reardanz, the port’s deputy executive director.
He will succeed his boss, outgoing port director John Mohr, who will stay on through the end of the year to help with the transition.
Reardanz told the commissioners he is “humbled and honored” by their decision.
“I will work very hard to justify that confidence,” he said.
The port has a stack of ambitious plans to reinvigorate little-used land, clean up decades of pollution and expand shipping facilities. Some projects are already complete, others are under way and even more have extensive plans ready for action.
Finding someone capable of implementing those plans was the top priority, said the port’s three commissioners in interviews before Tuesday’s decision.
Dozens of applicants were narrowed to four finalists, who were interviewed last month by the commissioners.
Since joining the port in 2011, Reardanz has played a central role in port operations.
Previously, he spent more than a decade with the city of Bellingham, where he worked as a legal advisor and spent nearly two years overseeing redevelopment of the waterfront.
He has been a lawyer for the U.S. Navy for more than 20 years, most of it as a reserve officer. In 2008, he advised the top NATO commander in Afghanistan on developing that country’s judicial system.
Reardanz had tough competition, according to the commissioners.
“This was a case where if folks had drawn a name out of a hat, practically, it would have been good for the community,” Commissioner Glen Bachman said.
Reardanz’s familiarity with the port set him apart, though, said Commissioner Tom Stiger.
He knows the plans, policies and politics affecting the port’s future.
But even the best plans have to be adjusted, said Commissioner Troy McClelland. “The question is, are we going to be nimble and quick enough” to adjust?
Dan Catchpole: 425-339-3454; email@example.com; Twitter: @dcatchpole.