Port of Port Townsend sets timeline for hiring new director

Commissioners aim for late winter decision

PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend commissioners plan to have a new executive director on board by the end of winter.

The three-member commission approved a timeline and work plan Wednesday night that could bring new leadership to the port by February or March as it works with Karras Consulting on a national search.

A job announcement and brochure could be posted on the port’s website, www. portofpt.com today.

The commission previously extended the contract of Jim Pivarnik, the interim executive director, through June 2020.

Pivarnik, who was appointed to the role in August 2018, said he would like some time to work with the successful applicant before he steps aside.

“If I need to work an extra month, that’s not that big of a deal,” he said.

The discussion centered around the November election and which commissioner would have one of three votes in the hiring process.

Commissioner Steve Tucker is finishing his second four-year term, which will end on Dec. 31. He is not running for a third term and will be replaced by either Chuck Fauls or Pam Petranek, both of whom would be new to the commission.

Voters will decide between Fauls and Petranek as part of the Nov. 5 general election.

“My feeling is it’s important to include Commissioner Tucker, but that’s not to exclude the newly elected commissioner,” Pivarnik said about the process.

The timeline includes national recruitment and job advertisements from today through Nov. 5. Candidate discussions and semi-finalists are scheduled to be selected during the week of Nov. 11, and candidate interviews would be set for the following week, Pivarnik said.

Pivarnik recently went through a similar process as the Washington Public Ports Association hired an executive director. He suggested a two-day, three-phase interview process that included separate meetings with community stakeholders and port employees.

“It’s frightening but very telling,” Pivarnik said of the meeting with employees. “The person could see what their staff would be.”

After the first day, the port would host a public meet-and-greet session with prospective candidates. The port commissioners would interview the finalists in executive session the following day, Pivarnik said.

Public comments from Petranek and Charley Kanieski encouraged commissioners to wait on a hiring decision until after the newly elected commissioner is sworn in.

“I’ve never hired anyone without fairly thorough research,” Commission Chair Bill Putney said. “At least a Google search of their first and last name would be a minimum.

“I’m right there with you that it needs to be a thorough vetting. The port can not afford to have the kind of issues that it had before.”

Both Pivarnik and Commissioner Pete Hanke want Tucker to be involved in the discussion based on his eight years of experience with port decisions, even if the actual vote to hire the executive director occurs after the first of the year.

“If we do it in 2019, it would be Steve [Tucker] casting the vote with whoever was the commissioner-elect in the room with an option of entering into the discussion,” Putney said.

“If it’s a 2020 decision, it would be on Steve to come back, do an evaluation and give his opinion, and it would be valuable information, but the new commissioner would cast the vote.”

Tucker said he would be willing to come back as a consultant to offer his opinion if the decision is made in early 2020.

“At that time, I would imagine they would need at least a month to unravel his or her life and come on board,” Pivarnik said.

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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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