The Wahkiakum County Eagle - Established as The Skamokawa Eagle in 1891

Port district vote draws 2 candidates--Brian O'Connor


October 10, 2019

Diana Zimmerman

Brian O'Connor, a local carpenter, is the incumbent running for the Port 2 Commissioner 2 position. He has held the position since 2009.

A position on the board of commissioners for Port District 2 is one of the few contested elections on the Nov. 5 ballot. The position represents the Skamokawa and Grays River area. Incumbent Brian O'Connor is running for re-election, and Austin Smith has also filed for the office. Eagle reporter Diana Zimmerman talked to them about their candidacies.

Brian O'Connor has been the Port 2 Commissioner 2 for the past 10 years and would like to serve another term, but he welcomes a bit of competition for the position.

"No one ran before and it's kind of cool that someone is running," O'Connor said. "So there is more interest."

O'Connor went to Calabasas High School in California and studied parks and recreation in college, but he is a carpenter by trade, and has been most of his life. He now owns his own construction company.

Before he became a port commissioner in 2009, the position had been vacant for nearly two years.

"The county commissioners were about to appoint somebody," O'Connor said. "Skamokawa could have lost its representation. Plus my kid was leaving the house and I needed more things to keep me busy. If I have idle time, it's not so good."

He laughed.

"I thought this is good. I'm close to the park. We all like the park. It was kind of a natural thing because nobody wanted to do it and I kind of stepped in and then I really liked it," he said.

When he arrived, a project above the main park had just been complete. Yurts had been installed, a new picnic area, and a modern camp loop for newer trailers, but it left the port with a big debt to pay off.

"I'm pretty proud that the people running the park got that paid off and our other bills as well," O'Connor said. "That helped us develop more what we've got going."

The yurts have since been upgraded, a water system has been upgraded, and there are new roofs on the older buildings. A modern camp loop is planned for the main area.

"My biggest failure is that we didn't get our office and a laundry done," O'Connor said. "We put a lot of time into that, so that's kind of a bummer. But my biggest accomplishment this past year is that we have more people working full time year around because the port is supposed to be spending money in the community, we're not supposed to be saving money. So instead of being in debt, the port grew. The sand sales to rebuild the dike out there was huge. We were almost broke every year, having to borrow money from the county to keep the doors open, and now we're employing people and have a half million in the bank. All the people that worked here did a really good job."

What does he hope to accomplish?

"We always wanted to lengthen the boat ramp," he said. "I think the community really needs a laundry. I don't know about everybody else, but I haven't completely given up that dream. There is one last part of the park that could be developed. I'd like to see more youth groups or see the kids come play here. I think it could be utilized more for parks and recreation."

Why vote for O'Connor?

"The park has come a long way and I'm really proud of it," O'Connor said. "I've been here for 10 years, I get a lot of enjoyment out of it. I really like seeing the park grow. The restrooms are clean for making stops. It helps Skamokawa. It's open and growing instead of being in disrepair. I think there is lot more we can do."

"It's not really about my ideas, it's about what the community wants as well," he added.


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