Wald resigns; Indianola Port down to one commissioner

INDIANOLA — Indianola’s port district now has one commissioner.

Joan Wald resigned Wednesday, citing Commissioner Jeff Henderson’s changed position on the temporary closure of the Indianola dock and accusing opponents of the dock’s closure of “direct[ing] their venom at me personally, by such juvenile tactics as closely following my car[,] almost touching my bumper, and posting threats on social media.”

Judith Frank resigned July 29. Frank and Wald’s positions are on the Nov. 5 general election ballot; they had chosen not to run. The candidates are Eric Cookson, Matthew Smith (write-in), District 2; and Patrick Hatchel and John Lane, District 3.

Kitsap County Elections Supervisor Delores Gilmore said Wednesday that the County Commission has up to 180 days to make an appointment; the election is in 75 days.

Rob Gelder, who represents North Kitsap on the county Board of Commissioners, said Thursday morning the county Elections Office had not received official notification from the port district of Wald’s resignation. Once that’s received, the County Commission can discuss whether to appoint a commissioner who would serve until the Nov. 5 election is certified.

Meanwhile, Henderson is limited on what he can do as the sole commissioner. RCW 53.12.246 states, “… no business shall be transacted unless there are in office at least a majority of the full number of commissioners fixed by law.” A representative of the state Attorney General’s office interpreted the law to mean a sole commissioner cannot transact business — such as signing a contract — that requires a vote of the commission.

The following is the email Wald submitted to the North Kitsap Herald:

From: Joan Wald
Date: Wed, Aug 21, 2013 at 12:36 PM

It was with mixed feelings that I decided to resign as a Commissioner of the Port of Indianola effective immediately. On the positive side, I believe it's the duty of citizens to serve the community voluntarily ... it's called citizenship.

I also believe in finishing whatever I've started.      Over the last two years, several major deficiencies have been remedied, which uncorrected, threatened the legal standing of the Port. These included establishing a Six-Year Comprehensive Plan, a Port website, recruitment of a Port Auditor, a Five-Year Statement of Exemption from the Shoreline Substantial Development Permit Requirements, a schedule posting public notices thereof, and holding regular open Port meetings, establishing an Advisory Board, and a Hydraulic Project Approval for the Port of Indianola Facilities Five-Year Maintenance Project.

Several major tasks remain, among them repairing or replacing the Dock, raising substantial funds and grants, which need a cohesive and generous community to support the Commissioners' efforts and leadership. There is a long road ahead. On the negative side, the only remaining Commissioner has changed his position 180-degrees and chosen to align himself with a vocal selfish minority made up of "legacy" people, many not residing or voting in Kitsap County, but whom nonetheless claim authority by birthright ... not ability, hard work, or character.

The Dock, the property of the Port of Indianola, as an extension of the State of Washington, has repeatedly been vandalized, to show disrespect for the Port Commissioners and fellow residents of Indianola.

Moreover, having caused one hard-working-totally-committed Commissioner to resign, they have now directed their venom at me personally, by such juvenile tactics as closely following my car almost touching my bumper, and posting threats on social media. These social media allow people to pop off without bearing any responsibility for what they say.   Weighing the positive against the negative, I choose to resign as Port of Indianola Commissioner.

Respectfully, Joan Wald

*      *      *

Thursday, Wald said she has regrets — the resignation, the conflict over the dock closure.

“I just do not go up there anymore,” she said of the general store and the community center, two local gathering spots. She said the conflict has been caused by “a small minority of the people who live in Indianola. It does not represent our community at all. The silent majority is silent. That’s what’s sad.”

She added, “We have a dock that needs work. We don’t know the scope of the work, and we need to come together and take this on as a community and not be fractured.”

Gelder has observed the conflict from afar and worries about its impact on future involvement in the community. “What it does is, people were elected or appointed to make the best decisions they could based on the information they had. It makes it difficult for people to step up and give their time if they are going to be confronted in that manner.”



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