Port narrows executive director search to four candidates

Posted 1/15/20

The Port of Port Townsend has narrowed its search for a new executive director from 45 applicants down to four and has asked the public for help making a decision.

The interview process for the …

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Port narrows executive director search to four candidates

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The Port of Port Townsend has narrowed its search for a new executive director from 45 applicants down to four and has asked the public for help making a decision.

The interview process for the candidates involves an introduction to members of the public, a group interview with port staff, and an interview with the three port commissioners, all within the space of two days. Key port stakeholders such as marine tradespersons, pilots and invited community leaders will also be meeting and questioning the finalists in a separate meeting.

On Tuesday evening—after press time for this paper—the port was to host members of the public at the Northwest Maritime Center for a chance to do a group interview of sorts with the four candidates: Eron Berg, who is currently the city manager of Sedro Woolley; Andy Haub, the water resources director for the city of Olympia; Travis Matheson, director of property management for Washington State Patrol; and Tony Warfield, senior manager of facilities development at the Port of Tacoma.

On Jan. 15, port commissioners will hold an executive session to question the four finalists and potentially winnow down the field to one primary candidate. While the schedule could change, the commission may not make its final decision until a week later, potentially on Jan. 22.

The port’s new executive director is expected to start the job by March 1.

Meet the candidates:

Eron Berg has been the city supervisor and city attorney for the City of Sedro Woolley since 2007. He reports to the elected mayor and is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the town of almost 12,000, and legal guidance for city officials. The city has a staff of 90 and an annual budget of $38 million.

Berg is also an elected commissioner of the three-member Skagit Public Utility District. The PUD supplies water to 65,000 residents and businesses.

From 1999 to 2003 he served as the elected mayor of La Conner, where he grew up. Hiss parents owned a marine chandlery in La Conner, where, for five years as a teen, he and his parents lived on a sloop.

He has worked with the Port of Skagit on several projects including infrastructure, planning.

Before going into government service, Berg was an attorney with Cascade Law Center.

Berg holds a law degree from the University of Washington and a Master of Science in psychology from Western Washington University.

Anthony Warfield has worked at the Port of Tacoma since 2008. He started there as an environmental project manager and was named senior manager of facilities development in 2012.

He oversees construction projects, making sure they comply with permits and state environmental practices, as well as spill response. He also works with tenants on improvement projects.

Previously he worked with the state Department of Transportation, helping with transportation planning and mitigating environmental issues for the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge.

He also worked on environmental issues for the state Department of Ecology and for Boeing.

He holds a Master’s in Regional Planning from Washington State University.

Warfield was born in Port Townsend and although his family left when he was young, he now owns a home in the community.

Andy Haub comes from Olympia, where he served as the water resources director of that city until his retirement in April 2019.

For more than 28 years he worked in many roles for the city of Olympia, including project engineer, program coordinator, planning and engineering manager and most recently director of the city’s systems for drinking water, wastewater, stormwater and surface water.

As Water Resources director, he supervised 70 employees and a $30 million budget. He led research into the impacts of rising sea levels on downtown Olympia. He was the primary liaison with community groups, other governments and the elected City Council.

Before working for Olympia, Haub worked as a design engineer in Bellevue and as a shop foreman in a welding and machine shop in Montana.

Haub holds a Master in Engineering from the University of Washington. He also holds a U.S. Coast Guard Marine Captain license.

He has a home in Port Townsend and keeps a sailboat at Boat Haven.

Travis Matheson comes from the Washington State Patrol in Olympia, where he has been a captain for eight years. He has been with the patrol since 1992, starting as a trooper and rising through the ranks.

In 2019 he was promoted to lead the property Management Division, in charge of some 300 WSP facilities across the state. Matheson manages 63 employees and a $153 million biennial budget.

Before that, he was a sergeant on the Bomb Squad, a lieutenant in first the Homeland Security Division and then the Criminal Investigation Division, and then a captain in various posts.

From 2007 to 2008, he was a White House Fellow during the tenure of President George W. Bush, worked on transportation issues and rode mountain bikes with Bush.

Matheson is chair of the Port of Olympia Citizens Advisory Committee and holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Washington. His grandparents, Bob and Margaret Matheson, were lifelong Jefferson County residents.

One of these four candidates will be chosen to tackle the port’s upcoming challenges, including its failing infrastructure, such as the Point Hudson jetty and the Quilcene marina.

The voter-approved Industrial Development District tax levy, which authorized the port to tax up to $15 million for capital projects, marked both public support of the port and provided needed funding for its infrastructure. The commission recently elected to collect $805,000 in IDD funds in the upcoming fiscal year, but will keep the funds in a separate account until there is a public-involved process to decide how to spend them.

The Port operates marinas and boat ramps throughout Jefferson County and an industrial boatyard in Port Townsend. The Port also operates the Jefferson County International Airport. The Port employs about 30 people and has an operating budget of $5 million.

The port commissioners want the public’s feedback on the executive director candidates. The public will be invited to contact commissioners with their thoughts via email or a special feedback feature on the Port’s website at www.portofpt.com. (From the home page, scroll down to the blue box.)

Members of the public can also follow Commissioner Pete Hanke’s instructions and pick up the phone.

“Make a phone call,” he said at the port commission meeting on Jan. 8, asking for the public’s input on the candidates. “Give us a call by Wednesday before we head into executive session.”

Commissioners can be reached by calling the port at 360-385-0656.

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