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Port Selects New Director

After a three-month process, the Friday Harbor Port Commission chose
their new Director during a public meeting held Friday, January 18th.
Marilyn O'Connor, acting Interim Director and Port Auditor was chosen
from a field of 35 applicants. Ms. O'Connor has been with the Port for
22 years during which time she has also served as the Deputy Director.

Based on the applications, the Port Commission narrowed down its search
to 6 semi-finalists who then received further questions. Four were
chosen for interviews based on their responses. The finalists included
O'Connor and 3 others. Two live on San Juan Island, one in Oregon and
one in Rhode Island.

"All of the finalists were strong candidates. However, in the end there
was no applicant who possessed O'Connor's thorough knowledge of
Washington Ports, specifically a Port like ours, with both a Marina and
an Airport. Having worked with Marilyn, the Port Commission is confident
of her skills, dedication and vision," commented Mike Ahrenius, Port
Commission President.

The commission was surprised not to receive any applications from other
Port Directors or Deputy Directors, within the State of Washington. Pat
Jones, Director of Washington Public Ports Association (WPPA), stated
that he felt the high cost of living and housing on San Juan Island was
the main deterrent.

As Auditor, O'Connor has been responsible in a large degree for the
financial stability of the Port. When O'Connor took over fiscal
management in 1986, the Port was running in the red. Overseeing a
current operating budget of three million dollars, O'Connor has created
a one million dollar reserve during her tenure. Among many duties over
the years, Marilyn was responsible for project management at Spring
Street Landing and the Skagit Valley College building, both built on
Port property. She has worked on airport development grants and projects
since 1985, and oversaw the re-building of the Jackson Beach Public Boat
Launch. A new Port Auditor will need to be appointed now that O'Connor
is the Director.

"Marilyn possesses the necessary administrative and financial skills not
only to lead the Port into the future, but perhaps more importantly, to
do this in a way that best serves the broader public interest of the San
Juan Island Port District. Her sense of fairness and transparency are
fundamental qualities that will be the keys to success for the next Port
Director," wrote Jackie Hamilton owner of Island Air, in a letter of
support to the Port Commission.

Ralph Hahn who has worked for many years with O'Connor on the Economic Development Council (EDC) stated, "She loves what she does and she loves the opportunity to make the Port of Friday Harbor a wonderful place for visitors and citizens. I am impressed with Marilyn's analytical powers. I observe her as a Board Member of the EDC and of the Sailing Foundation. She knows that the first step to solving a problem or dispute is to listen."

In addition to O'Connor's years of on-the-job training, involvement in
the WPPA and Leadership San Juan Islands, she has attended the
University of Washington's Cascade School of Public Management. The
school's program is designed to give working public sector professionals
both a philosophical foundation and applied skills to improve public
management in our state.

"I'm excited," said O'Connor. "I have loved being a part of the Port's
team, and I'm looking forward to a new role in the next chapters of our
organization. I want to continue making the Port a connected and
responsive part of our community."