Port of Port Angeles commissioner to run for election

Steve Burke

Steve Burke

PORT ANGELES — Port of Port Angeles District 2 Commissioner Steve Burke, who was appointed in March 2016, announced Thursday he intends to run for election.

Burke, 52, was appointed unanimously after former Commissioner Jim Hallett resigned last year.

Burke, who has been the director of William Shore Memorial Pool for the past seven years, said the port needs to create more family-wage jobs and decrease its dependence on timber revenue.

“I would like to see that balanced out so when and if the timber market changes, we’re not having to scramble and cut staff because we’re so dependent on that revenue,” he said.

Burke said the port’s plan of a marine industrial park should address both issues. He said port efforts such as the Composit Recycling Technology Center, the composites campus and marine trades help decrease the area’s dependence on the timber market.

“We want to balance that so not all our jobs relate to timber,” he said.

Among the port’s top priorities has been to regain commercial air service between Fairchild International Airport and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Burke said it will either take an “act of God” or an act of Congress for air service to return.

He said the port is in talks with U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, in hopes of creating legislation that would make the airport qualify for the federal Essential Air Service program.

“If we can get that designation of Essential Air Service, that would get us air service,” Burke said. “Without that, it’s almost impossible to find somebody that will want to try to run an air service.”

The Port Angeles airport is not eligible for the program now because Kenmore Air was operating when the federal government set the cutoff for the program.

“It was just bad timing,” Burke said. “We are working with Kilmer to try to fix that.”

Burke has lived in the Port Angeles area since 2001. He served on the Clallam County Charter Review Commission in 2015.

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Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at jmajor@peninsula dailynews.com.

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