Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz, seen here in 2018 before deploying to Afghanistan, will leave the port district in October to tend to his parents in Bellingham. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Port of Everett CEO Les Reardanz, seen here in 2018 before deploying to Afghanistan, will leave the port district in October to tend to his parents in Bellingham. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Port of Everett CEO to step down; board eyes successor

Les Reardanz is leaving to focus on his aging parents, military duties and a new job.

EVERETT — Les Reardanz, the Port of Everett’s chief executive, will step down in October and his successor could come in house.

He plans to return to Bellingham to focus on his aging parents and military duties, he said.

Reardanz made the announcement Monday at a special Port Commission meeting.

“It’s a tough decision,” Reardanz told The Daily Herald on Monday. “I love working at the port and I love the people I work with.”

“I would love to continue to be part of it,” he said, but caring for his parents took precedence.

A succession plan is underway, he said.

The port commission plans to enter into contract negotiations with Lisa Lefeber, the port’s deputy executive director, to fill the port CEO position.

Reardanz, a Navy captain and an attorney, has led the port for the past five years.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump nominated, and the U.S. Senate confirmed, Reardanz’s promotion to the reserve list for promotion to Rear Admiral in the Navy Reserve Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps. The position would put Reardanz in charge of about 600 reserve lawyers and paralegals.

“It’s a part-time reserve job,” he said.

The promotion comes after Reardanz returned home last year from his fourth tour of duty overseas. In January 2018, he was called to active duty for an eight-month deployment in Afghanistan. At that time, Lefeber took over in his absence. Reardanz returned to work in November.

“Character and integrity are values I hold deep, and it is with great sadness that I have to move on from my role at the Port of Everett to tend to my aging parents, while also balancing my new Navy role,” Reardanz said. “It has been a humbling honor to work at the Port of Everett, and I am so proud of what our team has accomplished and will continue to accomplish in the years to come,” Reardanz said.

Reardanz plans to work as an attorney at Chmelik Sitkin & Davisa, a Bellingham-based law firm that represents 10 ports throughout the state. The Port of Everett is not among its clients, he said. “I’ll be working on port and municipal issues on a part-time basis to start in October,” he said.

“Les has been a tremendous leader for the Port and our region and led the Port through the busiest construction season we have had in the past decade,” Port Commission President Glen Bachman said.

Reardanz became CEO in November 2014. Before that he served as the Port’s deputy executive director.

Prior to coming to Everett, Reardanz served as the municipal legal advisor at the city of Bellingham. He was also the project manager for the city’s Waterfront District Development, a joint effort with the Port of Bellingham.

Port Commissioner Bruce Fingarson called Reardanz “the consummate gentleman both professionally and personally.”

“In my 18 months at the Port, his leadership has been the voice of reason and guidance as we continue to move forward,” Fingarson said. “He is leaving the Port in a great position to continue to succeed. I wish him and his family all the best.”

Port Commissioner Tom Steiger said, “We are sad that Les’ family situation is such that he has to leave. But we are happy with the succession plan (referring to Lefeber) that we have in place. We looked at several options over the past month, and we believe this is the right move at the right time.”

Janice Podsada; jpodsada@heraldnet.com; 425-339-3097; Twitter: JanicePods.

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