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Editorial: Bob Champion would serve Port of Everett well

The former Mukilteo council member would bring a balance of fresh perspective and experience to the board.

By The Herald Editorial Board

While port districts often are over-shadowed in local elections by city and county races — and even the races themselves fall toward the bottom of ballots — these local governments are vital providers of business and recreational services and engines of economic development in the communities they serve. As such they are deserving of voters’ attention.

The race for the Port of Everett’s District 2 commissioner seat has the attention of candidates, drawing three challengers to incumbent commissioner Tom Stiger. The Aug. 1 primary election will determine the two candidates who will move on to the Nov. 7 general election for the seat’s six-year term.

Stiger first served on the commission, for District 3, from 1965 to 1971, and was elected again to District 2 in 2011 and reelected in 2017. Stiger is challenged by:

Alfred Favre, a Mukilteo resident and chief executive for All Ocean Services, which serves the needs of the maritime industry.

Ken Heaton, a Mukilteo resident and county resident for 18 years, having recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard as a petty officer, first class. He continues work with the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security on a contract basis regarding credentials for merchant mariners.

Bob Champion, also of Mukilteo, who served two terms on the Mukilteo City Council, winning elections in 2013 and 2017. He most recently worked for Honeywell as an aerospace scientist and executive, retiring as staff scientist.

Heaton and Champion met recently with The Herald Editorial Board. Stiger did not return an emailed request to participate in an interview. Favre responded, but did not reply to an invitation to the editorial board meeting.

Champion, noting the growth along the port’s waterfront, said he wants to provide his skills to ensure the port will best use its strengths to further develop the port’s international terminal and locally ensure the stability of the nation’s supply chain.

In particular, Champion said he wants to see the international terminal’s health restored and made more robust, with a particular focus to serve the needs of Boeing, “partnering with our strongest customer.” Champion said there’s opportunity now to finish acquisition of the former NOAA property on the Mukilteo waterfront and plan for its future use.

Champion noted a concern, that considering the port’s development plans, it may not have sufficient staff available to implement that work.

Heaton said he sees a need for the port to turn more attention to the Mukilteo waterfront north to Everett, including the NOAA property and two acres of property belonging to the Tulalip Tribes. Heaton said he wants to dig further into the preliminary plan and work with stakeholders, residents and the Tribes on further developing and implementing those plans.

Heaton also said he’d like to see the Port of Everett’s shipping traffic increase to alleviate traffic headed south to Seattle and Tacoma.

Both Heaton and Champion would be able to draw from their professional experience in evaluating plans and proposals before the port commission. And both men seemed of similar minds policy wise and in temperament, able to work collaboratively with the two other commission members and port staff. Both also expressed a commitment to recreational and public access opportunities along the port’s waterfront, and regarding the tribal property, deferring to the Tribes’ decisions there.

Champion, however, also has the benefit of two terms on the Mukilteo City Council, which would provide insight into continuing and shared issues for the city and the port district, as would his experience in representing port residents.

Among Champion’s accomplishments with the city council, including significant time as president, was his work to stabilize the city’s financial oversight after it hired, then lost, a string of finance directors. Another of his proposals led to refinancing for the bonds for the Rosehill community center, which saved the city considerable money.

Joining the board’s two commissioners — Glen Bachman, serving since 2013, and David Simpson, serving since 2019 — Champion would add a fresh perspective paired with his experience in serving the district’s residents and businesses.

Correction: Ken Henton’s rank upon retirement from the U.S. Coast Guard was as petty officer, first class. The editorial has been corrected. Also, David Simpson’s length of service has been corrected.

Primary election

The primary election for local offices is Aug. 1. Ballots, which will be mailed July 12, must be returned to drop boxes or postmarked by Aug. 1. The voters guide was mailed July 11. Voters also can consult an online voters guide at vote.wa.gov.

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