Coupeville port commissioner objects to ‘scheming,’ quits

After a little more than a year into her six-year term on the commission for the Port of Coupeville, Laura Blankenship resigned last week from her elected position. Laura Blankenship

In a resignation addressed to commission Chairman Marshall Bronson, she accused the head of the three-member elected body, and Port of Coupeville Executive Director Jim Patton, of using their skills as political operators to the benefit of the Greenbank Farm Management Group rather than port district taxpayers.

“In my opinion, your back room scheming and conspiring ensures the farm will not only fail to become the economic driver the taxpayers were promised, it will continue to drain port district resources unnecessarily,” Blankenship wrote.

Contacted later by phone, Blankenship said she didn’t have any additional comment.

Patton laughed when asked to comment about Blankenship’s resignation letter.

“I don’t think I can improve on it,” he said.

He also denies back room scheming between the port and management group.

“There was never any of that,” Patton said.

Blankenship also penned a letter to the taxpayers and residents living within the port district.

“I have absolutely no reason to believe that my continued participation will achieve a better outcome for port district taxpayers,” she wrote.

Since Blankenship took office in January 2012 there were arguments over how the port handles its budget, how it would make cuts during a recent budget shortfall and how it doles out grant dollars.

Most recently, the three-member board argued about how to best implement recommendations formed by a volunteer group examining how the Greenbank Farm should operate once the port’s agreement with the management group expires.

Blankenship tried to get several recommendations approved in January, but she was outvoted by commissioners Bronson and Benye Weber.

With Blankenship’s resignation, the process will begin to find a replacement.

The remaining two commissioners can appoint Blankenship’s replacement up to 90 days after her resignation. If a replacement hasn’t been named then the Board of Island County Commissioners can step in and name a replacement, Patton said.

The position will be up for election in November. The person elected will serve the remaining four years left on Blankenship’s 6-year term.

The filing period for the election is May 13 through May 17. The person elected will take office once the election results are certified.