Tom Stiger, left, and Bob Champion

Tom Stiger, left, and Bob Champion

Port of Everett candidates aim to balance development, environment

Bob Champion, 68, is challenging incumbent Tom Stiger, 84, for a six-year term for Port commissioner.

EVERETT — One candidate for Port of Everett commissioner said environmental cleanups need to be the Port’s number one priority.

The other pointed voters to his 12 years of service on the commission — and the success of commercial development along the waterfront in that time.

Bob Champion, 68, will face incumbent Tom Stiger, 84, for a six-year term and annual salary of up to $23,916. District 2 includes the Mukilteo waterfront and part of southwest Everett. As a Port commissioner, the elected candidate will help determine Port policy. The commission also hires the Port’s executive director, who is currently Lisa Lefeber.

Champion served two consecutive terms on the Mukilteo City Council from 2014 to 2021 and worked as an aerospace scientist and executive at Honeywell for over 40 years. Stiger has served two terms for District 2 and one term for District 3 on the Port commission. He also spent 27 years working in public education.

In the primary election, Stiger took 43.52% of votes. Champion received 30.46%.

How do your previous roles qualify you to be commissioner?

At Honeywell, Champion said he was immersed in the same topics the Port considers important: trade, tourism, the environment and economic development.

As a staff scientist, he traveled extensively in an effort to promote products that enhanced aviation safety, learning how to conduct business across the globe.

Champion also helped gauge public opinion on development of the Mukilteo waterfront, along with other Mukilteo City Council members, in 2016. The experience taught him collaboration in an effort to “build a better world,” he said.

Stiger said his decades-long career in education, interacting with students and parents, gave him experience connecting with the public. He held various positions within the Everett and Cascade school districts, including teacher, counselor and principal.

Stiger remained involved with the waterfront, though, even when he wasn’t serving on the Port commission. He worked for a stevedoring company — loading and unloading boats — and had a personal boat in the marina.

He refers to himself as the “unofficial historian” of the Port, having been affiliated with the waterfront since he was 27.

“Every once in a while, a question will come up about a project at the Port, and I can sort of relate to that because I was active either as a commissioner or perhaps working at the Port at the time,” Stiger said.

What projects do you hope to prioritize, if elected?

Champion wants to build a better relationship with Boeing, the Port’s “strongest customer,” he said in an interview with The Daily Herald’s editorial board.

“What are we going to do to ensure that not only the Port thrives, the revenue drives, but that the onward expansion north of Everett up and through Bellingham has the supplies that they need to meet future demand?” Champion said.

He also hopes to help decide the future of the former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration property in Mukilteo, saying he understands locals want open space along the waterfront, but they want to see businesses and housing there, as well.

“I have all the skills, the background and the knowledge to make positive contributions to that discussion, so that portion the port is looking at is developed with the least amount of resistance,” he said.

Stiger wishes to see the completion of Mukilteo waterfront development and expansion of the international shipping terminal.

“I think when you consider the entire district, economic development and job creation — those are priorities,” he said.

How would you prioritize environmental cleanup efforts as commissioner?

Champion worries earthquakes and floods could cause contaminants to spread further in and around the waterfront.

“We have to look at the various impacts of things like sea level rise, the increase in the sedimentation, reduction in water quality and economic disruption,” he said.

All commissioners should consider potential impacts to the waterfront, due to climate change, when they discuss future port development, Champion said. He also said companies should be held responsible when its operations harm the environment, citing the Port’s acquisition of the Kimberly-Clark property in 2019 as an example of when this wasn’t done.

“I certainly would not have indemnified a known polluter in perpetuity,” Champion said. “I would have negotiated something different.”

Stiger said about 2% of the Port’s budget is dedicated to environmental efforts, totaling about $1.3 million out of this year’s $66.8 million budget.

There are currently eight shipping berths at the Port. But with future cleanup efforts, Stiger hopes the Port can further expand its marine terminals and handle more cargo.

Ballots are due Nov. 7.

Ta’Leah Van Sistine: 425-339-3460; taleah.vansistine@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @TaLeahRoseV.

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