PORT TOWNSEND — Port of Port Townsend candidates Pam Petranek, the incumbent, and challenger Chuck Fauls debated climate change and good-paying jobs during a candidate forum hosted by the League of Women Voters last month.
The forum was on Oct. 4. It can be found at https://www.lwvwa.org/ Jefferson, along with recordings of forums for Port Townsend School Board, conducted on Oct. 2, and for Quilcene School Board, conducted on Oct. 3. They face each other in Tuesday’s General Election.
The race is a rematch of the 2019 race, which saw Petranek, a maritime business owner and commercial fisher, defeat Fauls, a customer service worker for the port, to become the Port of Port Townsend’s first female commissioner.
In response to a question regarding the Boat Haven being flooded during an average daily high tide, both candidates agreed that action should await a consultant’s study.
“The port has just hired a group called KPFF Consulting Engineers, founded in 1960, based out of Seattle,” Petranek said. “They have designed marine projects throughout Washington state. And they have designed projects for the port, such as our boatyard stormwater system and our Point Hudson jetty.
“So with this consultant we are looking at curbing public waterfront access while simultaneously protecting critical businesses from flooding,” she continued.
“This is becoming more frequent.
“Then we look at every area from the Larry Scott Trail to Point Hudson and figure how we can protect marine habitat and protect our shores.”
Said Fauls: “I’m not going to pass myself off as an environmentalist expert. Like everyone else out there, I’ve been concerned with the rapid sea rise we have experienced, especially with the king tides over the last two years in December. And I agree with Pam that we need to give these consultants time to do their study and come back with recommendations.
“But at the end of the day, whether it is seawall, a seawalk, this is going to be an expensive undertaking,” Fauls continued. “And the port isn’t going to be able to afford it and the city can’t, the county can’t. This would be a national involvement.”
Fauls said providing good-paying jobs is a matter of attracting the right manufacturers.
“There are some jobs that do possibly have a more adverse impact on the environment,” he said. “I don’t see those being really a major factor here in Jefferson County. For the most part I think this is a community that is environmentally sensitive and they’re willing to go that extra distance to maintain a quality of life that we enjoy here. So I think that we can encourage green development and it won’t impact our environment adversely at all.
“I don’t think good-paying jobs necessarily have to be opposed to environmental concerns,” Fauls added. “There’s a lot of federal money out there for green energy that are good paying jobs and that are environmentally substantive.
“So I don’t think one is exclusionary of the other,” he said.
Petranek said port personnel are environmental stewards whose jobs rely on a sound ecosystem to support resource-based economy and jobs.
“So our future is tied to the health of the ecosystem and our ability to participate in it,” Petranke said. “And our port has best management practices and we’re environmental educators. We follow high standards of local, state and federal requirements.
“When I think about the jobs, first of all, I’m thinking about our fishermen, our farmers,” she continued. “The fishermen are advocates for the economic and cultural value of fisheries. They are advocates for funding to support to fish management and hatcheries and cleaning up polluted waters and habitat restoration.
“And I’m proud of working with the state of Alaska and the Washington Public Ports Association in support of robust funding for our local waters. So that we can have an abundant salmon return every year,” she said.
Reporter Brian Gawley can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 55650, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.