ILWACO - Port of Ilwaco District 1 Commissioner Richard "Dick" Siefert, of Long Beach, is unopposed in the Sept. 20 primary election for re-election to his four-year unexpired term.
Siefert, 72, was appointed to fill Commissioner Jim Stiebritz's seat after he resigned. He and his wife, Robbi, have two grown children. "I'm fortunate," Siefert said. "This is a wonderful time to come on board. I'm privileged to take part in the port's business. When I was interviewed for the job, I was asked 'What would you do to make the port better?' I said, 'Don't lose (Port Manager) Mack Funk.'"
1. What do you believe qualifies you to be a good port commissioner?
Siefert said he's been part of the port for years. "I watched it go from its heyday 20 years ago to almost hitting bottom. Since Mack was hired, we're up to where we are today with no end in sight." He said he's been involved in volunteer organizations all his life - Boy Scouts, Camp Fire and Little League - and was an umpire consultant and part of the administrative program for Little League for 13 years in Longview. He's been a member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary for more than 23 years, also on the administrative side. After retiring from Weyerhaeuser in Longview 10 years ago after 40 years as a painter/carpenter/mason, Siefert said he's been working 55 to 60 hours a week. "I've always felt that the day you quit learning is the day you die," he said. "I enjoy the challenge of being a commissioner."
2. How would you balance the port's growth and its limited revenues?
"It's a matter of prioritizing what we do so we can make sure we put our money to work to the best of our ability," Siefert said. "We have the dredge, the pile-driver can replace piling at the marina at our cost rather than hiring someone outside the port. We can do it all and see where our money will take us." He said the cost of medical insurance for port employees has risen 79 percent since 2000. "We're dealing with that now, looking at a private insurer. The people working for the port are multitalented. We do our own electrical work and the electrical inspector thinks our employees are brilliant. We now have 50-amp service for a large yacht moored at the port that we didn't have three weeks ago. It's already generating income. Small things make the overall picture better."
3. What should the port's relationship be with the city of Ilwaco?
Siefert said the port/city relationship is "very important. The city provides services and we have a good working relationship. We're looking forward to the future and maintaining a good relationship. It's good for us and it's good for the city." He said he was looking forward to new city council members and new Mayor Doug Hubbard.
4. What should the port do with its airport?
A card-lock fuel facility at the airport has been discussed, Siefert said, but a master plan must be completed in order to get grants for improvements. He has suggested a meeting with pilots, possibly ending with an agreement to build hangars. A secure area also is necessary at the airport.