Slinden resigns from port board

In a surprise to some observers, Port Commissioner Lynae Slinden resigned her position Wednesday after more than seven years representing Clinton.

“I commend former Commissioner Slinden for providing her resignation when she did,” said Port Commissioner Geoff Tapert. “I believe the timing will benefit the port district as a whole in several ways.”

A special three-day filing period will take place starting on Monday, Aug. 24. If more than two candidates file, there will be no primary and the person with the greatest number of votes in November will win the election and serve out the remaining four years of Slinden’s six-year term.

Sliden said a possible move was the reason behind the resignation.

“During the next two years, there is a strong likelihood that I will be out of the area at least part of that time, and will not be able to fulfill my role as commissioner,” her resignation letter said.

She has indicated a desire to join the Peace Corps, but has no firm commitment.

Slinden led the port’s successful drive to design and build a new day-use park at Clinton Beach next to the ferry pier, and was a strong proponent of the local arts community.

The three port commissioners meet on the third Wednesday of each month at the Freeland Library, and receive a $104-per-meeting stipend.

Three candidates — Herb Helsel, Dean Enell and Chris Jerome — are in the race for Rolf Seitle’s Langley seat in the Aug. 18 primary. The two with the most votes in the primary will qualify for the general election on Nov. 3.

Slinden was elected to the port commission in 2001 as the representative from Clinton. Before moving to Whidbey in 1987, she worked as a city planner in California.

In 1995, she bought Island Framery in Clinton, and became heavily involved in South End activities. It wasn’t long before then-Langley mayor Lloyd Furman approached her.

“Even then, the town wanted the port to be more interested in the marina,” she recalled. “I was familiar with the planning process, and it seemed a natural fit.”

To date, Clinton Beach park is one of her proudest achievements.

“The Clinton community forum identified that people wanted to reclaim their beach,” she said. “It was a great example of the good that a port can do.”

Other high points include Maxwelton Beach, the Myrtle Avenue trail and the restroom and landscaping at Freeland Park.

One personal pet project of Slinden’s, a visual arts education center in Langley, hasn’t come to fruition.

“There are a huge number of artists of all kinds on South Whidbey,” she said. “Supporting the art community, capitalizing on what already exists, seems like a good role for the port — art can be a prime mover for our economy. Maybe someday.”

There were frustrations during her tenure, too. The long road to get the Bush Point boat ramp open for west-side boaters and fisherman took a lot of the port’s time.

The tumultuous public process to take over the Langley marina absorbed much of her time the past two years.

Another project Slinden was involved with was the port’s desire to acquire land, something that would mean an opportunity to build and lease buildings to support business development and create jobs.

“We should be there to encourage and facilitate private investment,” Slinden said. “The port should take the lead to provide the necessary framework and structure.”

Jeff VanDerford can be reached at 221-5300 or jvanderford@southwhidbey

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