It’s great to see the Port of Walla Walla commissioners involving the people — the commissioners’ bosses — in the process to hire a new executive director of the county’s lead economic development agency.
The port held an open house at the Marcus Whitman Hotel & Conference Center, where the public could talk with the four finalists and provide written feedback to commissioners. The four are Port of Columbia Executive Director Jennie Dickinson, College Place City Administrator Patrick Reay, Walla Walla Planning Commissioner K.C. Kuykendall and Arthur Scheunemann, a former president and CEO for the Economic Development Council of Seattle & King County.
The candidates then were interviewed by a panel including the three port commissioners, three members of the port administrative staff and three community members selected by the commission.
This very public process is good for the Port and good for the community it serves. It’s an excellent example of the kind of transparency all public agencies should strive to achieve.
Recently, to its credit, the Walla Walla School District invited the public to meet and question candidates for the vacant superintendent’s position. It was an open process that resulted in what seems to be an excellent hire.
Sadly, too many government officials at the state and local level act as if notifying the public, let alone including citizens in the interview process, is unnecessary.
It seems as if the port has attracted solid candidates, three of whom are local. That’s a positive, as port commission President Mike Fredrickson noted. Those already in the area have a background and understanding of the Walla Walla Valley.
Still, being local is only one aspect to consider in the process. And this is why it makes sense to have a variety of people offer their input.
Ultimately, the port executive director works for the public and it makes a great deal of sense to include the public in the process.