Four applicants vie for port seat

The Hood River Port Commission will interview four applicants seeking to fill the vacant Position 5 seat next Tuesday.

On Aug. 1, Bob Nichols tendered his resignation from the elected role because of “personal circumstances” that required his full attention. The candidates for the one year remaining in Nichols’ four-year term are Gary Fields, Hoby Streich, Mike Benedict and Kathy Watson.

Bill Lyons, port commission president, said these individuals will be personally interviewed by the port board during a special work session just prior to the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the Expo Center conference room. He said the person selected for the job could be sworn in and seated that same night.

“We have four good candidates so we’ll certainly get a good fifth member to the commission,” said Lyons, who currently serves with Don Hosford, Sherry Bohn and Fred Duckwall.

Lyons said the four applicants will be evaluated on their background and experience, area of expertise and involvement in community activities — especially those related to the port.

Fields has lived in Hood River since 1971 and is retired from his career as a consultant in pest management - the assistant to the entomologist at the Mid-Columbia Research and Experiment Station.

He holds a master’s degree in Pestology from Simon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada, and is a member of the newly formed land-use watchdog group, Citizens for Responsible Growth. In addition, Fields has 15 years of experience on the board of directors for Hood River Supply, eight on the fair board, and six as a director for the Columbia Art Gallery.

“I consider myself an active member of the Hood River community. I can bring ideas and experience to the commission,” wrote Fields in his application.

Streich spent the majority of his childhood in the Hood River Valley and worked for United Telephone Company for 11 years following his high school graduation in 1977. Since 1988 he has co-owned and operated Cascade Market and the adjoining self-serve car wash.

Last spring, Streich joined the port’s budget committee and has also been involved with numerous civic organizations, including the Hood River County Chamber of Commerce, Little League, Lions Follies, Future Farmers of America, American Cancer Society and Hood River Saddle Club.

He views the waterfront as a “diamond in the rough” that could become Hood River’s “crown jewel” with the proper planning.

“With our present economy uncertain in Hood River County, especially in the following industries: timber, aluminum, agriculture, I recognize that the Port of Hood River has a unique opportunity to address many challenges facing many of our residents in the near future and years to come,” wrote Streich.

Benedict is currently the director of the county’s planning department, administering a $500,000 annual budget and managing seven staffers. He spent 12 months helping to draft the county’s Economic Development Plan that balanced priorities from more than 20 local governments, special districts, non-profit organizations and private companies. He is a member of both the Hood River Rotary Club and the Chamber.

In addition to his civilian experience, Benedict spent 22 years in the United States Navy working in telecommunications and computer systems. He holds a master’s of science in Human Resources and Organization Development from the University of San Francisco in California.

“The Port is involved in several projects, such as the waterfront plan and the technology center, where my background in land-use planning, telecommunications and experience with state and local economic development professionals and government officials will serve to complement the other commissioner’s expertise,” Benedict wrote.

Watson moved to Hood River two years ago and is a partner in the Watsonx2 consulting firm. She is actively involved in government and business development, sustainability, communications and public policy issues for companies such as Mt. Hood Meadows, Ltd., Portland Development Commission, Columbia River Gorge Visitors Association and National Policy Consensus Center.

Watson attended the University of Oregon for four years, leaving in her last term to take her first news reporting job, eventually earning several top awards as editor-in-chief of Oregon Business magazine and editorial director of Oregon Business Media. She is a member of Hood River’s Citizens for Responsible Growth and Rotary.

“I desire to become a port commissioner because I want to see the port win the community support it needs to become a pro-active player in the region’s future,” wrote Watson. “To me, the creation of living wage jobs is the single most needed component for preserving our quality of life and the port is critical to that effort.”

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