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Cookson, Lane elected to Indianola Port Commission | Election
INDIANOLA — Eric Cookson and John Lane were elected to the Indianola Port Commission, Nov. 5.
As of 8:15 p.m. Nov. 5, Cookson received 279 votes to write-in candidate Matthew Smith’s 56 for the two years remaining in the term for the District 2 position. Lane received 202 votes to Patrick Hatchel's 163 for a six-year term as District 3 commissioner.
Port commissioners are elected for six years and are not compensated.
Cookson was appointed to the commission on Sept. 4, after two resignations left the port with one commissioner.
Cookson got right to work. He and Commissioner Jeff Henderson reopened the dock with restrictions, began recruiting applicants for the District 3 vacancy and focused their attention on the dock. They rescinded an earlier decision that established a $100-per-meeting stipend for commissioners, instead directing that that money — $300 a month, $3,600 a year — be budgeted for dock improvements and maintenance. Commissioners also took about $6,000 allocated to the Indianola Beach Improvement Club for security and budgeted it for dock maintenance.
With the assistance of an advisory committee of residents, the commission developed a plan to meet the structural needs of the historic, iconic dock. Cookson said the current plan is to replace 10-20 pilings with steel piling every two years; replacing 20 pilings is expected to cost $100,000, he said. He said residents can expect to first see support strapping and cross bracing installed, followed by replacement of pilings identified as most needing to go. Work could start next year, depending on permits, he said.
Cookson, 50, has advanced degrees in leadership and management from City University in Seattle. He works for U.S. Coast Guard Sector Joint Harbor Operations Center; he retired from Coast Guard active duty in 2007.
Write-in candidate Smith, 40, wanted to use his background as a designer-builder to engage the public in the dock’s future.
“I’ve done a lot of work in community design and urban renewal at the grassroots level,” he said during the campaign. “I’ve led design charettes and gotten community members to the table to find common ground. I’ve served on the board of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility. I know what it’s like to facilitate a community meeting, to engage the public and get their ideas, and take those ideas and crystallize them into a plan or design that reflects the desires of the community. A lot of those skill sets could be employed here around the dock.”
Smith believes the port district could do more to promote recreation and economic development. As an example, he wanted to work with the community to start an art walk on the dock; the event would promote participating artists and raise money for dock maintenance.
In the District 3 race, Hatchel and Lane ran a friendly campaign. It’s doubtful it could have been friendlier.
“This is such a great thing that we have Pat and I [running for commission],” Lane said. “Pat and I have a lot of respect for each other.”
Hatchel added, “We don’t disagree on a whole lot. He would do as good a job as I would.”
Hatchel is a police officer in Mountlake Terrace and is a member of the Kitsap Public Facilities District board, the North Kitsap Little League board, the county’s Juvenile Diversion Board, and on a state Fish and Wildlife advisory board.
Lane owns Gutter Cover NW, writes a column for the Indianola Breeze newsletter, and is a seating host for the Seattle Mariners.
Lane said his work as a seating host at Seattle Mariners’ home games has helped him hone his communication skills. “You have to be able to communicate with people from all backgrounds, from all over the world,” he said.
Hatchel and Lane differed on a couple of issues. Hatchel wanted funds for security devoted to dock maintenance; Lane believes security, though intermittent, gives residents “peace of mind.” Hatchel wanted to maintain the dock as it is now, making changes only to maintain its structural integrity; Lane wants to restore some of the dock’s earlier features, such as building a fishing shelter at the end of the dock, widening it to its earlier width, reinstalling the navigation light at the end of the dock, and building a storage area for kayaks. during the campaign, he wasn't able to say how those improvements would be funded.
About the port district: The Indianola Port District owns and manages the historic dock, a former Mosquito Fleet ferry dock now used for recreation. The dock has a float where boaters can tie-up short-term. The port district’s 2013 budget was $41,650 in revenue and $38,648 in expenses; the district has $100,000 in an investment pool. There are no full-time staff members; the port contracts out for accounting and maintenance.