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Port commission candidates speak to business group

July 16th, 2013 - 5:53am

(Port Angeles) -- The three candidates for Port of Port Angeles commissioner faced the Port Angeles Regional Chamber of Commerce yesterday afternoon.

Incumbent Paul McHugh and challengers Colleen McAleer and Del Dellabare fielded questions ranging from their individual philosophies to what to do about the Rayonier Mill cleanup.

McHugh, is a Sequim real estate broker and was appointed to the position a year ago. Delabarre is an engineer with a lot of experience in many field. McAleer is currently the port's business and property development manager.

Delabarre talked about what he thinks is the most important issue facing the port today.

"It has to be the selection of a new director. The management between the senior staff and the director is dysfunctional. An interim director isn't going to be able to solve the long-term problems of management. This is the most important thing they can do right now, we have to get the right person in that job," said Dellabare.

Delabarre said he thinks the port was wrong in how it went through the process of appointing Jeff Robb as the port's executive director three years ago and not look more closely at someone outside the agency.

But McHugh, had a different take.

"Had I been on the commission at the time (of Robb's appointment), I would have supported that. In fact, I would prefer that he be our executive director at this time. But, the circumstances that have been discussed in the media pretty much describe the reason he cannot continue," said McHugh.

Yesterday, McAleer admitted she is the whistleblower at the center of a complaint centered on former executive director Jeff Robb.

"I felt we needed to turn the port into a healthy organization. Either the commissioner was not understanding the situation or not caring, I felt that there was a waste of public money. Though I had gone to the former executive director many times over many months, no action was taken in a real way.," said McAleer.

McAleer said she feels the port commission didn't do the right thing in the Jeff Robb resignation and subsequent job offer.

She said she thinks the port is spending too much money on a search for an interim and permanent executive director. She said the port's finance director should be elevated to the position of the Port's Deputy Director, where she could ell handle the issues, until a new Executive Director is on board.

All three candidates will be here on Newsradio KONP this afternoon, at 1:05, on the Todd Ortloff Show.

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