CAMAS — A former Port of Camas-Washougal employee is challenging the incumbent port commission president for the No. 3 position on the Port of Camas-Washougal’s Board of Commissioners.
The incumbent, Port of Camas-Washougal Commission President Larry Keister, told voters during a recent candidate forum that he is “focused on leading well-planned economic growth for the port and for our communities” since being elected to his position in 2016.
Keister is running for reelection against challenger Jeramy Wilcox, a Camas business owner who worked for the port between 2008 and 2019.
“During my time as commission president, the port has seen a strong economic growth and job creation, and met our strategic goals,” Keister said. “The port has created more lease opportunities for new businesses, which have led to a strong financial outlook for the port and its future.”
Keister said his top priority if elected is the port’s development of 41st Street in Washougal, at the far east end of the Steigerwald industrial park.
“We’re looking for grant funding for that project. That will allow us to develop six additional parcels at the far east end of the industrial park,” he said. “That to me is No. 1. The other one is continuing the relationship we have with the city of Washougal. I’ve found over the years that I’ve been involved with both the port and the city that if we work in collaboration with our community, not only the elected officials but the citizens, we find that we can get a lot more done and be a lot more efficient in the decisions that we make.”
Wilcox and his wife, Marcie, own and operate two Camas businesses: Cedar Street Bagels, and Squeeze and Grind. He worked as a maintenance lead, project manager and facilities manager at the port from 2008 to 2019.
He graduated from Washougal High School and served in the United States Navy.
“I really feel like I can bring a unique perspective to the port commission. … Being an employee for so many years and seeing the operations as a whole, from budgeting, strategic planning and grant applications,” he said. “For me, it’s exciting to be able to run for port commissioner, being not just an employee for the port for all those years, but being a taxpayer to the port and owning businesses in Camas and Washougal. It’s exciting to have the opportunity to serve our community in a completely different way.”
Wilcox said the port should be closely involved in the future of Camas’ Georgia Pacific mill site.
“I truly feel like the port is in a very unique position to not only leverage the Department of Ecology funding for a potential cleanup, but have a seat at the table when it comes to the future of that property,” he said. “I think the port is in a very good position to see that through and have it be an asset to the community as a whole. I think the mill site is a very important task for the port to look at.”