INDIANOLA — Following a tumultuous couple of months, Port of Indianola Commissioner Judith Frank resigned from her position July 29.
Frank has served as the District 2 representative since June 2012. She was appointed to fill a vacancy left by John Jacobson.
Frank resigned because of the reaction by some Indianola residents over the board’s decision to close the recreation dock, citing safety concerns, she said.
Commissioners voted to close the dock during a special meeting June 27, following a letter from Coast & Harbor Engineering. Concerns raised in the letter included how easy it was to make the dock “sway.”
On June 29, the morning after the board installed a gated barrier blocking pedestrian access to the dock, the barrier was taken down and dumped on her front lawn. On another occasion, eggs were thrown at her house.
“I don’t know why I was singled out,” Frank said. “It’s not worth worrying about my home’s safety, my family’s safety.”
The board held a special meeting July 23 to review the engineer’s assessment and recommendations and discuss a property tax levy increase. At least 50 people attended. The public comment period included speakers who supported the commissioners, and speakers making accusations of port commissioners making decisions based on false information.
“When this meeting happened [on July 23] … there is a certain group of Indianolaians that seem to think they don’t abide by the rules … and [commission chair Jeff Henderson] didn’t enforce them,” Frank said. She called the angry reaction a “brutal situation.”
Commissioner Joan Wald understands why Frank decided to resign, but, “It’s a huge loss,” she said.
“I’m very saddened by it. She was a hard worker,” Wald said. “Whatever she does, she does extremely well.”
Wald has seen the brunt of the angry reaction to the dock closure, she said. Through the port’s website, commissioners received several negative comments, and Wald was sent emails to the same affect. Ninety-nine percent of the community is supportive of the board’s decisions, but the “handful” of outspoken people “have a different opinion,” Wald said.
“When you hold public office, you’re going to have those people who don’t like what you’re doing,” Wald said.
Wald and Commissioner Jeff Henderson have 90 days to appoint a person to the position. If they fail to do so, the Kitsap County Board of Commissioners has an additional 90 days to find a qualified appointee.
Wald and Henderson will soon post the vacancy and ask for applications, she said. Henderson said after they receive applicants’ resumes, the board will hold a special meeting for interviews and to appoint someone for the position. The appointee will serve until January, when the newly elected commissioner takes over.
“In Judith’s case, there were some personal affronts that are hard to swallow,” Henderson said. “She felt that [resigning] was the decision she needed to make. I supported her decision.”
Frank had a “laundry list” of things she wanted to get done as commissioner, she said. In her short time, the port updated is Comprehensive Plan, remodeled the website and applied for project permits. Anticipating repair and maintenance projects, the board worked with staff from the Poulsbo and Kingston ports to apply for the county’s shoreline exemption permit and the Department of Fish and Wildlife’s hydraulic project approval permit.
Like Frank, Wald said she’s glad to have help guided the port into compliance, “Getting everything in line so we can address the dock situation,” she said.
Wald will not be running for re-election; John Lane and Patrick Hatchel filed for the District 3 seat.
Frank hopes “when this all dies down” with the dock, people stay involved and work with the port.
“The vast majority in the community are wonderful people and are very supportive of the [dock] process, but when you have a few people who do that, you have a problem,” Frank said, referring to the vandalism and angry reactions.
“They’re like bullies on the playground, and then they wonder why no one wants to play.”
The general election is Nov. 4. Two people have filed for District 2, which has two years remaining on its term. Eric Cookson and Matthew Smith both filed. Smith filed as a write-in candidate July 9. After the dock closure, Smith created an online petition to open the dock to the public, gaining more than 10,000 signatures.