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Tomorrow’s Port of South Whidbey commissioner | Gordon and Jenkins face off, again
Two Port of South Whidbey commissioner candidates will vie for Position 3 this November, and it won’t be the first time they’ve squared off for public favor.
For the third time in four years, Ed Jenkins is looking to undermine the political ambitions of incumbent Curt Gordon, a long-time South Whidbey public servant. The first round, waged in 2009 for Gordon’s current port seat, met with failure as did both men’s bid to unseat Island County Commissioner Helen Price Johnson last year.
Gordon said he has a lot of experience with small taxing districts, budgets, bonding, levies and interaction with county departments. Gordon was a commissioner on the South Whidbey Parks and Recreation District for 18 years and has served on the port district since 2009.
If elected, he plans to focus on economic development that will benefit the public without a negative impact.
Gordon wants to smooth out transportation issues and promote tourism throughout South Whidbey. Another top priority is to continue current port projects such as the South Whidbey Harbor renovation, and rebuild the Possession Beach boat ramp to make it more usable and require less maintenance.
“I think the best way to serve voters is to understand who voters are,” he said. “We have to find creative, low-impact solutions because that’s what voters want.”
This is Jenkins’ third time running for a publicly elected office. In the past he has worked on political campaigns and organized a homeowners association for more than 1,200 homes in California. Jenkins has also worked in design, marketing and advertising. He retired in the 90s, but has since spent his time as a mentor for small businesses.
Jenkins said he would like to see more transparency in the district and bring more family wage jobs to Whidbey for island residents — not commuters, he said.
Jenkins would also like to promote more tourism with year-round events.
“Langley is a jewel but is absolutely under-utilized,” he said.
South Whidbey could be a destination spot for families, by creating “clever” promotions for businesses, he said.
“I want to brand Whidbey as a place where memories are made and traditions are born,” Jenkins said. “It’s just a matter of somebody getting out there to do it.”
A top priority for Gordon is finishing Phase 1 of the $1.7 million South Whidbey Harbor marina project.
Gordon said it’s important to remember that the original purpose of the Port of South Whidbey was to provide a marina in Langley.
“I want to follow through,” he said. “We are close to that with this Phase 1 project.”
If elected, Jenkins’ top priority would be to make sure the marina project is done as quickly and as cheaply as possible. He would also like to develop a marketing plan for the marina to ensure it will pay for itself once it’s completed.
“It’s not just, ‘If you build it they will come,’ ” he said.
Gordon also aspires to put more energy into projects in Freeland to provide economic development and support for industries in the area.
As far as Clinton goes, Gordon said the district has already implemented speed signs in the area to slow traffic down so people stop and visit businesses.
Jenkins said the port needs to create industry and jobs on South Whidbey, which would bring families into the school district.
He said he would push to create industries that would draw people to live on the island rather that expend energy and resources on commuting improvements.
Jenkins said he would go to companies, such as Boeing, to learn what industries he could bring to the area that would support the local economy.
If elected, Gordon said he would push to have more reliable methods to get around South Whidbey such as weekend bus routes, shuttles and overnight parking. This will help to fix the bottleneck the ferry causes and increase the well-being of people on the island, he said.
“I think South Whidbey would be more attractive with more modes of transportation to get people on and off the island,” he said.
Jenkins said there’s going to be a line for the ferry at times, but he would like to make that line an advantage, not a disadvantage. He suggests having the ferry line be an event by hiring local entertainment.
“It’s not hard to do but it’s critical if we are going to bring more people here,” he said.
Ballots for the November election will be mailed around Oct. 16.