Skip Novakovich likened Port of Kennewick operations to a “well-oiled machine,” and we would like him to help keep that engine going.
He is currently president of the Port of Kennewick and is up for another six-year term in sprawling District 3. We recommend he keep the job.
His challenger is well known in the community and has 34 years on the Kennewick Hospital District Board. Rick Reil said he is running because public service is important to him, and he believes three-member boards like the Port of Kennewick Commission need a fresh eye from time to time.
Reil and Novakovich both have a long history of helping the community and both are seasoned elected officials. Reil donates much of his time as a professional photographer for many events and organizations, and he is known for being generous with his time.
Although Reil acknowledged he does not see anything wrong with the way Novakovich and the other commissioners are managing the port district’s affairs, he thinks he would bring a different perspective.
If elected to the port, Reil said he would “back away” from serving on the hospital district board and devote his time to the new job when the hospital board no longer needs him.
Trios has been struggling financially for some time, and Reil was among the board members pushing for an outside consultant to come in and put the health district back on track.
That has happened, and now there is a possibility Trios Health might form a partnership with a private health care system sometime in the future. How that would affect the current board is not clear.
While there are some community groups that would benefit greatly from an outsider’s prodding, the Port of Kennewick is not one of them.
In recent years it has become one of the more successful government entities in the Tri-Cities. It has managed to launch several new community projects while also saving taxpayer money.
In addition, the port has a solid relationship with tribal leaders after Novakovich and others spent time building trust with them. That, in itself, is an accomplishment.
Novakovich joined the commission eight years ago and has the respect of community members, as well as state officials — including Rep. Dan Newhouse and Secretary of State Kim Wyman — who have publicly endorsed him.
His toughest time on the commission was four years ago when the port decided to close the Vista Field airport in favor of economic development of the property in central Kennewick. Novakovich said the decision cost him customers at his Esprit print business, “but it was the right decision.”
Now the vision for Vista Field includes plans for a performing arts center that would complement other entertainment venues at the site. Clover Island’s waterfront development and the Columbia Gardens project on Columbia Drive in Kennewick also are exciting projects the port has helped steer and propel.
Novakovich notes the port’s tax rate has decreased while the return on investment for citizens has climbed, and the port is debt-free.
He also said that during his time in office, port development projects have created 1,100 jobs. These are all impressive statistics.
While Novakovich does not take credit for these accomplishments alone (he said the Port of Kennewick staff is the best he has ever worked with) we know his leadership has been one key to the many successes the Port of Kennewick has achieved during his time on the commission.
We think there is enough going right that there is no reason for a leadership change now.
The Tri-City Herald recommends Skip Novakovich for the Port of Kennewick Commission, District 3.