PORT ANGELES — Candidates for the Port of Port Angeles commission discussed outreach efforts during a League of Women Voters forum.
Both challenger Michael Cobb and incumbent Port Commissioner Colleen McAleer, who are vying for the District 1 seat in the Nov. 7 general election, agreed during the Tuesday evening forum that the port needs more outreach.
“I do find that many people do not know what the port does and how it’s important,” Cobb said.
Cobb had not “liked” the Port of Port Angeles page on Facebook as of Wednesday, which posts several times each month about the port, often linking to the website and to news stories.
McAleer, who has served one term as port commissioner and is president of the Washington Business Alliance, said that before she started at the port there wasn’t nearly as much outreach as what is done now.
“We’ve been reaching out with our Community Partnership Program, which is giving back to the entire community grants on an annual basis,” she said. “We provided for the last three years $70,000 to different nonprofits across the county.”
She said the port now meets quarterly with the county and is having more meetings with other government bodies across the county.
“When I got to the port, there wasn’t this outreach effort,” she said.
Cobb said the port needs to seek talent that is already in the community and make it clear how people can participate in port activities.
“We need to show people how they can work to support the activities we’re trying to promote,” he said.
Cobb also criticized the port’s support for the Composite Recycling Technology Center.
The port, which committed $1.35 million to the CRTC in exchange for economic development, is nearing the end of that financial commitment.
He said the port should invest in green startups, but shouldn’t “put all their eggs in one basket.”
When asked about port efforts to create jobs, he agreed with McAleer the CRTC has created about a dozen jobs, but said the nonprofit will face challenges in the coming year to fund those positions.
“The cash flow situation doesn’t look so rosy,” he said.
CEO Dave Walter said Wednesday he is confident the CRTC will succeed as long as it follows its plan for the coming year. He said he and Cobb have spoken recently about the CRTC.
McAleer told the crowd that the intent of the CRTC is for “spin-off businesses and products” to develop in coming years.
She said she has complete confidence the CRTC will succeed and lauded the nonprofit’s venture into making recycled carbon-fiber seat backs for lightweight vehicles.
“I have complete faith in Dave Walter who spent 34 years as an executive at DuPont,” she said. “He knows what he’s doing.”
Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].