Above: Olympia city councilmember-elect Cheryl Selby addresses the crowd today at Thurston County's Swearing In Ceremony.
by Janine Unsoeld
Newly elected Thurston County area city, county, school and fire district officials were officially sworn in this afternoon at a ceremony held in the Minnaert Arts Center at South Puget Sound Community College. Seventy-six candidates were elected or re-elected, but not all participated in the event.
Thurston County Auditor Mary Hall, who won her own election against Gary Alexander in November, administered the oaths of office and presented certificates of election.
Keynote speaker State Senator Karen Fraser said today was a celebration of democracy, and remarked that the candidates have transitioned through the campaign "ring of fire."
"In two days, you can start complaining to them at the stroke of midnight," she joked.
Olympia city councilmember-elect Cheryl Selby, who won her election over Darren Mills, said she will be a voice for small business, and will help create Olympia into a city for the arts. She said she and her business in downtown Olympia just survived their eighth holiday season.
"You can be a business and care about people....the more successful my business is, the more I can share with my community."
"I'm like a dog with a new bone!" said Thurston County Democratic party chair Roger Erskine before the ceremony. Erskine has kept track of what issues the candidates ran on, and what they said they wanted to achieve during their term if elected.
"We endorsed a lot of these folks, and the party has some responsibility to help with this part too," said Erskine.
Erskine is pleased that the party has a majority on Lacey, Olympia, and Tumwater city councils, and the county commission. "Now it's time to work hard, and create some kind of vision....This is an outstanding county, but there's always room for improvement."
Cynthia Pratt, newly re-elected Lacey city councilmember, was asked before the ceremony what she was most eager to work on in 2014.
"The Woodland Business District," she said without hesitation. "I'm excited about that - this is the year to do it. A lot of people are behind us - it's time. Everybody's talking about it."
United States Congressman Denny Heck provided the ceremony's closing remarks, giving sage advice to the newly elected officials: "Never stop looking for common ground and always be civil - you have so little control over all the rest."
Above: "No Port Support of Fracking" - Using a convenient building as a billboard earlier this month, local activists make known their opinions about current port operations.
Spotlight on the Port of Olympia
Sue Gunn, incoming Port of Olympia Commissioner, was one of those newly elected sworn in today. Gunn ousted Port Commissioner Jeff Davis in a final November election margin of 51.95% to 48.05%.
Gunn's first port commission meeting will be Monday, January 13, 2014, 5:30 p.m., Tumwater Town Center, 7241 Cleanwater Drive SW, Tumwater.
Kathleen White, port communications and public affairs manager, was recently asked a few frequently asked questions about current port operations as it heads into 2014.
The Port’s 2014 Annual Operating Budget & Capital Investment Plan is now on the Port website at: http://www.portolympia.com/DocumentCenter/View/1235.
Little Hollywood: What is the status of Warehouse B? I read people's comments against it during the SEPA process. Did it pass? If so, when will it be built? It seems that I did read it would be used for more than just the storage of proppants, correct?
Kathleen White: The Commission has not yet approved a contract to construct Warehouse B. The money was in the 2013 budget, it was partially funded by the bond issue, and the Port is in the process of obtaining permits. Once permitting is completed, it will go before the Commission for construction approval. The warehouse could be used to store any number of items. (Note: This project is a carryover from 2013 so it is not in the 2014 budget.)
LH: Who does the Port have a contract with to receive proppant shipments and for how long? How many are expected in 2014?
KW: The Port's customer is Rainbow Ceramics. In 2013, these shipments drove the Marine Terminal's 56% increase in operating revenues and the doubling of Longshore hours over 2012. The Port handled 11 proppant vessels in 2013 and expects to match or exceed that number in 2014.
LH: Regarding port minutes, it would appear that the last ones posted are September 23, 2013. I'm not finding any since then.
KW: The Port contracts with a company to take minutes of the Commission meetings. Once the minutes are received, they go before the Commission for approval. Following approval, they are posted on the website. The minutes of October 28th were approved by the Commission on December 10th and were posted on the website today [December 20]. The October 14th meeting was cancelled due to Veterans Day. The minutes of November and December are expected to go before the Commission for approval on January 13th.
LH: Is the next port meeting January 13th?
KW: Yes, the next Commission meeting is January 13th. The Commission cancelled the meeting that would have occurred on December 23rd due to its proximity to the Christmas holiday.Earlier this month, Gunn was asked about her upcoming position on a numerous of port related issues, but declined to comment on specifics.
"The job starts on the first. I figure it will take me six months to a year to figure out what's going on there and it will be a steep learning curve. Remember I am one vote out of three votes. I have no comment at this time on anything....I plan on moving slowly...as I undertake the job."
Port Commissioner Bill McGregor ran unopposed and was re-elected to Position 2; Port Commissioner George Barner, in Position #1, was not up for election this year.
Gunn also said that as of January 1st all communications related to the port needs to go to her port address: firstname.lastname@example.org. She also said that at some point she will also receive a port-business related cellphone.
Above: Port Commissioners-elect Sun Gunn, left, and Bill McGregor get their instructions from Sandy Baxter, Thurston County Auditor's Office voter outreach coordinator, before the swearing-in ceremony today.
For more information about the Port of Olympia, go to www.portolympia.com and read other articles published at Little Hollywood at www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com.
The Port’s 2014 Annual Operating Budget & Capital Investment Plan is now on the Port website:at http://www.portolympia.com/DocumentCenter/View/1235. Printed copies will be available at Commission meetings beginning January 13th. Copies of the budget document will also be available beginning January 13th at the port's administrative offices, 915 Washington Street NE, Olympia 98501.
Regular Port Commission meetings are on the second and fourth Mondays of the month at 5:30 p.m. in Tumwater Town Center, 7241 Cleanwater Drive SW, Tumwater, WA 98501.