Colleen McAleer, first female Port of Port Angeles commissioner, will quit her staff job

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

PORT ANGELES — Colleen McAleer, the first woman elected to the Port of Port Angeles board of commissioners in the port's 90-year history, will resign her position as the taxing district's director of business development by the time she is sworn into office Jan. 13, she said Wednesday.

The day after she defeated opponent Del DelaBarre for Paul McHugh's Sequim-area District 1 seat, McAleer said she also has been working with potential partners to start a veteran- and woman-owned advanced manufacturing business in the Sequim area.

“Nothing is pinned down yet,” McAleer said.

Making the venture veteran- and woman-owned will make it easier to obtain contracts and subcontracts with the federal government, she said.

McAleer will be quitting a port position that pays her $82,131 a year.

McAleer, 46, had 8,606 votes, or 64.4 percent, in Tuesday night's ballot count.

DelaBarre, 75, co-owner of an event services company, had 4,757 votes, or 35.6 percent.

On Tuesday night, the Clallam County Auditor's Office counted 15,348 ballots, or 32.9 percent, of the 46,668 general election ballots mailed to registered voters.

Election workers will count ballots received Tuesday-Friday on Friday by 4:30 p.m.

About 6,000 ballots remained to be counted as of midday Wednesday.

The election will be certified Nov. 26.

The port race was the only countywide race in Tuesday's general election.

Reflecting on his loss Wednesday, DelaBarre said he was at a disadvantage in several respects during the campaign.

'Whistle-blower thing'

For starters, there was the “whistle-blower thing,” DelaBarre said.

McAleer filed a work-related whistle-blower complaint May 16, the same day she filed for the port commissioner seat.

The complaint prompted an internal investigation that was highly critical of the administration of former Executive Director Jeff Robb, who resigned June 24 and immediately was given the lesser job of port director of environmental affairs at the same $138,000 salary.

It was determined that no illegalities occurred during Robb's tenure, but the state Auditor's Office is reviewing actions and decisions surrounding his departure.

“The whistle-blower event put her in a good light in terms of some of the folks in the public,” DelaBarre said.

“The election is completed,” he added. “It was a good line.

“The courage of doing a whistle-blower thing, I think that played well for her. The public accepted that.”

McAleer said she did not believe the complaint played a large role in her victory.

Larger role

“I think the fact that I had a lot of knowledge and had very specific ideas played a much larger role,” she said, adding that the complaint “was meant to be a completely internal process.”

As of Wednesday, McAleer also had raised $26,635 in campaign contributions compared with DelaBarre's $14,942, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

McAleer loaned her campaign $3,700, while DelaBarre loaned his campaign $2,000 to $3,000.

“We were limited by the amount of money we had,” DelaBarre said, lamenting that his campaign depended to a large extent on one mass mailer.

“I should have diversified more, given what my finances were,” he said.

“Colleen had a very well-balanced, well-thought-out, well-financed campaign.

“Her campaign was better than ours, no question about it.”

At 75, DelaBarre's age also may have played a factor in voters' minds, he said.

“You have to be realistic about age,” he said.

“My world is business. There's a heck of a lot of guys in their 80s who are dynamos and powerhouses, and the same thing can be true in politics.

“It is something that people consider, and usually more in a negative fashion than positive,” he added.

“It's a young country that thinks young, responds to young. It's hard to fight it.

“It's something that is considered and definitely, when you are the person running, you have to look at how this is going to play.”

Remain active

DelaBarre said he will remain active in the community.

He has been heavily involved with the Olympic Workforce Development Council, where he served as chairman, and also has chaired the Olymp.0ic Private Industry Council.

“I'm definitely not going to crawl into some hole somewhere and retire,” DelaBarre said.

“I've always been in the middle of everything, and I kind of like it.”

Meanwhile, McAleer's director of business development position will be added to the openings that the port will advertise to fill in the near future.

Port commissioners recently directed staff to include funding in the 2014 budget for a property manager position that was filled half-time by McAleer, whose business development position will become full time.

Positions for marine terminal operations supervisor, log yard machine operator, accounting clerk and 1.7 full-time-equivalent positions for port security also will be filled in 2014.

Robb has said he will retire in July.

Port openings

His environmental affairs directorship will be extended from August until the end of 2014, so that position must be filled on a 0.42 full-time-equivalent basis.

The operations supervisor, log yard machine operator and accounting clerk positions are unfilled vacancies.

As a port commissioner, McAleer will take part in hiring a new executive director, a position that is budgeted to start April 1 and is being filled on an interim bases by Ken O'Hollaren.

Port commissioners had indicated they want the executive search firm Waldron of Seattle to begin hunting for a new permanent executive director after the election, O'Hollaren said Wednesday.

“They have to have a discussion among themselves as to how that gets started,” he said.

The port commissioners' next meeting is at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday at the port administrative offices, 338 W. First St., Port Angeles.

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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: November 06. 2013 10:26PM
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