KENNEWICK -- The three candidates vying for two positions on the Port of Kennewick Commission want the contentious Vista Field issue resolved so that the port can focus more on economic development.
Both Jeff Losey and Skip Novakovich, who are in the race for Position 1, District 3, don't want the port to close the Kennewick airport and want the port to explore the option of further developing Vista Field.
District 3 includes areas west of Highway 395 and north of Clearwater Avenue in Kennewick, south of the Yakima River in Richland, West Richland, parts of unincorporated Benton County and the Benton City area.
Incumbent Commissioner David Hanson, who is unopposed for the Position 3, District 1 seat, said the airport issue is a drain on the port and it needs to be "taken care of one way or the other."
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Hanson, a retired Benton PUD engineer, said the port won't be building much next year because of a potential budget crunch. He said he expects the port to move ahead with the Columbia Drive revitalization project in partnership with the city of Kennewick.
He said he also is hoping to get private investors to further help develop Clover Island, where the port recently built a new Clover Island Yacht Club/Professional Building.
Hanson, 63, said he wants to be part of the commission because he's invested in a community his parents came to in 1935. "I want to see growth and development," he said.
He said he's looking forward to working with either Losey or Novakovich on the commission. Hanson's position, beginning in 2010, will pay a monthly salary of $850 plus benefits.
District 1 runs from the intersection of Highway 395 and the centerline of the Columbia Irrigation District canal and the south bank of the Columbia River. It goes south along Olympia Street to West 19th, then west along 19th to South Union Street, south along Union to West 47th Avenue, east on 47th to Olympia and continues south to the Columbia River.
All three candidates said the port needs to come up with development plans for its properties, particularly the Tri- City Raceway site, and to keep the public involved in the process.
The port creates "synergistic opportunities," for job growth, said Losey. He said he will bring a small-business perspective to the port drawing from his experience as an executive director of the Home Builders Association of Tri-Cities.
"I'll be able to hit the ground running," Losey, 40, said.
He said he's worked with the Army Corps of Engineers, state Department of Ecology and local public jurisdictions and is familiar with planning, budgetary and permitting processes. The port, in partnership with other public agencies, can help develop the waterfront in the Tri-Cities, he said.
"Skip and I are closely aligned on several issues," said Losey, who's touting his readiness for the job to distinguish himself.
"At various voter forums, I try to get across the leadership (skills) I have," Losey said.
His Web site is www.jeffloseyforcommissioner.com.
Novakovich, 61, said he would rely on his more than 20 years experience in community service and development to help promote jobs and enhance the quality of life in the Tri-Cities.
A retired Army lieutenant colonel, Novakovich said he helped recruit an urban design assistance team in 2002 to generate ideas for downtown revitalization that eventually became the Bridge to Bridge/River to Railroad project.
He said he supports development work at Clover Island and potential plansfor Columbia Drive.
"I have no potential conflict of interest or private agendas," said Novakovich, who owns Esprit Graphic Communications in Kennewick with his wife.
The former president of the Downtown Kennewick and Columbia Drive Association said he believes public-private partnerships are crucial to promoting economic development. He praised the port staff for helping increase the port's assets over the years while reducing the levy rate.
His Web site is www.skiptotheport.com.
The position Novakovich and Losey are competing for pays $200 a month salary, plus benefits and a per-diem of $104 a day when the commissioner attends port-related meetings.
-- Pratik Joshi: 509-582-1541; firstname.lastname@example.org