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Newly elected port commissioner sees waves of revival

Scott McClaine talks with supporter Bill Young at the Port of Astoria Wednesday morning. (Cindy Yingst)
By Cindy Yingst, Thursday, May 30, 2019

Running for a seat on the Port of Astoria’s Board of Directors felt like a calling for Scott McClaine.

Now that he has won Tuesday’s election against longtime incumbent Bill Hunsinger, McClaine feels reassured in that directive. The Astoria man received 62.5 percent of the vote.

“There’s a revival happening at the port,” he said Wednesday morning. “It’s being revived. The port lost less money last year than it did the year before and the year before it lost less money than the year before that. I want to be part of the wave that turns it around.”

Excepting James Campbell, every seat on the five-member board has changed in the past two years.

Frank Spence and Dirk Rohne won their spots in the 2017 election and Robert Mushen stepped down shortly thereafter for health reasons and Robert Stevens of Warrenton was appointed. Stevens ran unopposed and retained the Position 4 seat on Tuesday.

Prior to the 2017 election, port meetings had been filled with verbal fisticuffs, political posturing and financial failure.

“I think I’ve got some leadership ability-slash-humbleness to help the port,” McClaine said.

His opponent, a semi-retired commercial fisherman, spent more than a decade on the panel and, for the past two, has continued to call for the removal of Executive Director Jim Knight.

“I served the Port of Astoria for 43 years as a longshoreman and 12 years as a port commissioner,” Hunsinger said Wednesday. “I’ll give credit to Scott McClaine, who ran a great campaign, and I’ll definitely welcome him. … Last night (at the port meeting) when I talked to him, I said win or lose, I’d help him all I can.”

He also said the public should recall every other member of the board because of the port’s financial state and the willingness to accept an executive staff that hides important information, financial or otherwise.

“The cover-up needs to stop,” Hunsinger said. But, after so many years, “I was getting a little worn out.”

The thing he’ll miss the most? Driving the Port of Astoria boat in the Regatta Parade. McClaine’s spot on the board is effective July 1.

Other races

There will be one new face on the Sunset Empire Transportation District.

Debbie Boothe-Schmidt received 62 percent of the vote, unseating incumbent Lylla Gaebel in Position 5.

In the Position 1 seat, incumbent Tracy MacDonald retained his spot over challenger Larry Taylor.

On the Clatsop Community College Board, Sara Meyer handily won the only contested spot, receiving 70 percent of the votes over Andrea Mazzarella, who’d been appointed to fill a vacant post last year.

In the Clatsop Care Center Health District, incumbent Paul Radu held on with 52 percent of the vote over Lucinda Enterline.

In Seaside, one of the seats on the Sunset Empire Park and Recreation District was too close to call with the four candidates running for Position 4 each receiving approximately a quarter of the votes.

The tally was John Chapman. 307; Katherine Parker, 289; Marti Wajc, 287; and Shirley Yates, 274.

The Position 5 seat is expected to go to Lindsey Morrison with 444, followed by Patrick Duhachek, 363; and Rodney Roberts, 257.

All results are semi-final.

Bill Hunsinger, who lost the seat in Tuesday's election, greets and congratulates McClaine as both arrive for a meeting Wednesday. (Cindy Yingst)

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