Event: What is a port district? Learn before you vote

port district

Voters will decide whether Kittitas County should have a port district in an April 24 special election. You can learn about the potential benefits and pitfalls of port districts at a March 28 forum sponsored by the Kittitas Valley League of Women Voters and the Ellensburg Library.

Our panelists:


Kittitas County Auditor JERRY PETTIT will define a port district and explain how it operates, on its own and with other governmental entities. Jerry has been county auditor since February 2005, and recently was appointed to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Voting Standards Board. He has 10 years experience with the state auditor, over 10 years experience in the health care industry, and has served as accountant and business manager for government and non-profit agencies and private business.

JIM ARMSTRONG is the CEO of the Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce. During his career he has been an attorney, a business owner, and a staff member for an organization that brought nearly 75,000 acres of Washington recreational land into public ownership. He is a member of the committee in favor of the port district measure.

ANN ANDERSON recently retired from the position of Director of Government and Community Relations for Central Washington University. Prior to her work with Central, Ann served for 12 years as the 42nd District State Senator from the Bellingham area. Ann is a Kittitas County Chamber of Commerce board member and the immediate past president of the Ellensburg Downtown Association. She is a member of the committee in favor of the port district measure.

Before retiring in 2012, RICHARD MACK worked for 40 years in the areas of economic development and energy economics. This included contracts with the following agencies and institutions: the Federal Reserve Banks of San Francisco, Dallas and Atlanta; the Tennessee Valley Authority, the State of Indiana, The Washington State Department of Transportation, and many others. In the past, he was part of a group making a presentation on regional economics with former chair of the Federal Reserve board of governors, Janet Yellen. Mack has mixed feelings about the port district proposal.

DOUG KILGORE has lived in Roslyn since 1987 and during that time has been employed in different roles within the labor movement. Since 2003, Kilgore has been the Executive Director of Worker Owner Council of the Northwest, a regional council of building trades unions. As such, he has engaged with the Port of Walla, the Port of Quincy, and the Port of Seattle.

“In the course of my work experience I’ve come to be acquainted with regional economic development opportunities facilitated by port authorities and the operation of port boards of commissioners. While I am generally supportive of the creation of these entities I am aware of the pitfalls that can arise when ports’ interests are not properly aligned with the public good,” Kilgore said.

JEAN PUTNAM will moderate the forum. Bring your questions!

One response

  1. Just another tax. As all property owners know our property taxes went up 10% state wide. As of 2018 the number of affordable health care options for working citizens of Kittitas County also went to zero. Perhaps the Port is a great idea and can bring business here. What is it the Port will offer businesses to come here – that these businesses already haven’t considered? I have a business here and I own a home here and I am thinking of moving away due to the increased property taxes and decreasing health care options. Nothing against the Port – I am just sick of taxes increasing at a greater rate than everything else. As simple as that.

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