The new president of the Port of Camas-Washougal Board of Commissioners said the port is anticipating a busy 2022 with “exciting happenings” to come.
Cassi Marshall said that includes completing the Steigerwald Lake National Wildlife Refuge floodplain restoration project, breaking ground on the Waterfront at Parker’s Landing project and constructing a 50,000-square-foot industrial building in the port’s commerce center.
Marshall, who was elected board president last month, also said the port is looking forward to being involved with the Washington State Department of Ecology’s environmental cleanup work at the Georgia-Pacific paper mill site in Camas.
The other port commissioners elected Marshall to lead the commission in 2022 on Dec. 15. Marshall, who was elected to the commission in November 2019, will take over for port commission President Larry Keister, who has led the commission since 2018.
“I’m excited to serve as our port commission’s president for the coming year,” Marshall said. “I’m guessing we’ll be plenty busy, and I’m honored to take my turn as our president.”
Keister will become vice president, switching places with Marshall. John Spencer will continue to serve as the commission’s secretary.
Marshall said she has no intention of making any big changes to how the commission operates, but she said she is looking forward to working more closely with the port’s chief executive officer, David Ripp, and to learning more about planning and running efficient public meetings.
“And, of course, even though Zoom has been a phenomenal tool, I sure hope that we’ll get to transition back to in-person meetings in the new year,” Marshall said.
The commissioners discussed whether they should continue to elect the commission’s officers or switch to an annual rotation system.
“I’ve seen other three-person boards and commissioners that rotate, and it gives everybody that turn to lead the meetings and a break from it as well,” Marshall said. “I think it’s good practice if we’re all in agreement for the next few years.”
Keister said that the commissioners should continue to select their officers on an annual basis, as they’ve done for the past four years.
“(Electing our officers) gives the board more control,” Keister said. “We (want to) have the ability to elect our officers into the positions that we feel would be most beneficial. And what I’m really looking for is not so much this board, but future port commission boards. I’m just thinking that if we had an issue, the board might want to keep a little more control as to who is in what positions.”
Spencer said that he could “definitely see why we’d want to do that.”
“There’s a level of protection for the board should it have a rogue commissioner,” Spencer said. “At the same time, what if you’ve got one commissioner who’s level-headed and two jerks?”
“That’s up to the electorate to figure that one out,” Keister replied.
The port commission normally elects new leaders every year, but Marshal said a combination of factors prevented that from happening in recent years.
“It was explained to me when I joined the commission two years ago that we’d likely rotate positions annually, but with all the COVID-19 disruptions and constraints, we just hadn’t in a while,” Marshall said. “Besides, Larry was doing such a good job running meetings, and since he’s also the only one on our commission who’s fully retired, both John and I appreciated his willingness to keep the role for a while.”