Port of Camas-Washougal District No. 2 Candidates
Education: Master’s degree in business administration from the University of Portland, and bachelor’s degree in engineering at Oregon State University
Community Involvement: Past president of the Camas-Washougal Rotary Club; Regional director of the American Society for Engineering Management; member of the Friends of the Columbia Gorge Sierra Club
Phone: 901-4787, 834-3362
Website: www.electbill ward.com
Education: Master’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the Air Force Institute of Technology, and bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Academy
Community Involvement: President of the Camas-Washougal Aviation Association
Neil Cahoon said he is “not thrilled” with the decision making process going on at the Port of Camas-Washougal, and he hopes to be involved in future decisions as a port commissioner. Cahoon will face incumbent Bill Ward, for the Position No. 2 seat, in the Nov. 8 General Election.
Cahoon also mentioned the port’s financial responsibility and collection of funds are top issues of concern for him.
“The port is in excellent financial shape from a taxing authority standpoint,” he said. “I don’t want my government entities to be in excellent financial shape. I want them to be scraping. I don’t perceive they are challenged in the way they ought to be challenged. They are taking in too much money.
“Between 2009 and 2010, they had $1.55 million in revenue over expenses,” Cahoon said. “I think that is too much in a budget that is $4.5 million. If they have $1.55 million left over, that is about 25 percent of their budget [in reserve]. I think they are feathering their bed on the back of the taxpayer and their tenants.
“The economic engine of this country lies with the private sector, not government,” he added. “Because they’ve taken so much in the past doesn’t mean they should continue to do so in the future.”
Cahoon described the port district as a government entity with no essential services, such as education or public safety.
“It’s my perception they need to be way more nimble with their taxes and income stream than a taxing authority like a school district or the city,” he said. “The port does important things, but they don’t do essential services. I have taken pay cuts in private industry. This government entity, in particular, is sheltered from anything like that, and I’m not sure that is appropriate.”
Ward’s top issues include continuing to engage the public in port processes — including the future development of the former Hambleton lumber site — located near the port office.
The port is looking into a public private partnership with Killian Pacific to create a mixed use development — with retail and housing — near the waterfront.
“We are primarily trying to attract businesses that will improve the tax base for Washougal and the community in general,” Ward said. “Part of the planning will be how to link the waterfront to downtown Camas.”
Cahoon said he is running because of what he describes as the port commission’s lack of transparency.
“One way to be more financially and fiscally responsible is to seek outside funding sources,” he said.
Cahoon mentioned the decision to not apply for a potential of $10 million in funding from the Federal Aviation Administration to pay for improvements at Grove Field Airport as an example.
“The reasons this commission gave for not accepting grant funding for the capital improvements project, I thought, were all weak and made me get the sense that their answer was ‘no,’ before the reasons were given,” he said. “None or a few of those reasons were offered prior to the day that they voted to not apply for grant funding.”
Ward is the managing principal of Management Engineering Associates, LLC, and Cahoon is an airline pilot.
“I’m running in this election, because I am a citizen and a member of the port district who happens to own an airplane and happens to be a tenant at the airport and who happens to go to a fair number of port meetings because he has a fairly significant interest in what is happening locally,” Cahoon said.
Ward listed water mitigation near the future site of the Steigerwald Commerce Center as a top issue. The unresolved issue, which affects some of the 127 acres in the port industrial park, involves the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Fish and Wildlife Department and the National Marine Fisheries Service.
Ward said he wants to look at ways for the port to invest in the Camas area.
“Most of the port’s activities have focused on projects that have been beneficial to Washougal,” he said.
Cahoon, 57, has lived in the Port of C-W district since 1994, while Ward has been a district resident since 1975.