Port of Port Townsend panel narrows director search to 7

Committee to recommend four semifinalists Jan. 8

Jim Pivarnik

Jim Pivarnik

PORT TOWNSEND — A committee of the Port of Port Townsend plans to recommend four candidates to commissioners to be considered for executive director.

The committee — which includes Jim Pivarnik, the current executive director — will make the recommendation to the three-member commission Jan. 8 during an executive session.

Commissioners Pete Hanke, Bill Putney and Pam Petranek ultimately will select the person they want to lead the port.

Petranek, who was elected to the District 1 position in November, will be sworn into office Thursday.

She will take over for Steve Tucker, who chose not to run after two four-year terms.

Pivarnik said the port expects a new director to start by March 1.

“[The commissioners] were able to give us all the traits and the things they are looking for,” Pivarnik said. “We want to honor what we have and grow from that. We don’t want to try to do transformational change.

“We’re looking for someone who says, ‘I love Port Townsend, I want to live here and want this to continue,’ not, ‘I love Port Townsend, and I want it to look like Seattle.’ ”

Pivarnik, who started as the port’s facilities manager and worked as the deputy director for 15 years, returned in October 2018 as the executive director.

He plans to retire June 30.

Hanke chaired the search committee and served alongside Pivarnik, Deputy Director Eric Toews and Finance Director Abigail Berg.

The slate of candidates has been narrowed to seven from an initial group of 45, Pivarnik said.

The committee interviewed the four it plans to recommend, but Pivarnik said the commissioners could choose to interview any of the remaining three or start from scratch.

“We are totally turning this over to the commission now, and it’s their decision to move forward,” he said.

All seven of the candidates still in the running live in the Puget Sound region, Pivarnik said.

The commissioners may name their three or four finalists after their Jan. 8 executive session.

If that’s the case, then Pivarnik plans to have a community stakeholder group of about 20 people meet with each of the candidates Jan. 14, and he wants a second session specifically with port employees.

Later that evening, the finalists may meet in a public setting, and each would have about 15 minutes to express their ideas and platforms, Pivarnik said.

Commissioners would interview each of the finalists in an executive session Jan. 15, and a decision could follow soon after once contract negotiations can be finalized, Pivarnik said.

He said the starting wage likely would be about $150,000 annually.

Voters approved a $15 million levy — the first of its kind in state history — to be used during the next 20 years for infrastructure improvements within the port’s industrial development district (IDD).

The commission recently chose to collect $805,000 from the IDD levy during the upcoming fiscal year.

Among the traits commissioners are seeking in a new executive director is to be both a visionary and a tactician, and to implement steps to achieve goals.

Commissioners also want an active listener who can emphasize inclusion and build consensus both within the port and in the community.

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Jefferson County Managing Editor Brian McLean can be reached at 360-385-2335, ext. 6, or at [email protected].

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