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Port candidates talk Greenbank Farm contract

By NATHAN WHALEN
Whidbey Examiner Staff
October 20, 2013 · Updated 4:09 PM
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Candidates for two seats on the Port of Coupeville square off at a candidate forum. Richard Bowen and Mike Diamanti are vying for a seat while Jim Patton and Bill Larsen are competing for the other vacancy. / Nathan Whalen photo

Several candidates for the Port of Coupeville butted heads over the operations of the Greenbank Farm.

The League of Women Voters held a candidate forum Oct. 8 where disagreements come to light about recent decisions concerning the Greenbank Farm Management Group’s oversight of the publicly owned asset.

A majority of the seats on the Port of Coupeville are up for election in November.

Two seats are under contention in 2013 because former commissioner Laura Blankenship resigned last spring after a little more than one year into her six-year term.

Mike Diamanti was appointed to replace Blankenship and he is on the ballot facing Richard Bowen.

Jim Patton, whose contract as port executive director expires at the end of the year, is running to fill Benye Weber’s seat on the board and he is competing against Bill Larsen.

Bowen criticized what he saw as a lack of an open process in recent decisions concerning the Greenbank Farm Management Group.

Central Whidbey voters listened as candidates shared their views about operations of the Greenbank Farm and how its operated.

Bowen questioned how the Greenbank Farm will be managed when the current contracts with the management group expires.

He questioned the need of having a private entity overseeing the farm and he disagreed with the recent extension of the management group lease until 2015.

“I don’t call this an open process,” Bowen said during the forum.

Patton, who is running for a different seat on the port commission, disagreed.

“I won’t sit here and listen to misinformation,” Patton said. “We seem to have people who are interested in personal attacks.”

He also described the process to establish recommendations about the management of the farm as open and that feedback was welcomed.

Commissioners for the Port of Coupeville earlier in the year extended the contracts the Greenbank Farm Management Group by more than one year.

The extension was needed so the management group could meet state requirements for $1.5 million worth of funding that paid for construction of a new building at the farm years ago.

Diamanti, who is on the ballot against Bowen, was wary of the finger-pointing and contention that has been going on.

“I’m sick of it. I’m tired of it and I don’t like it,” Diamanti said.

Larsen said he would try to keep the vision of the voters if elected to the port commission.

He said he’s running knowing the scope of the position and the need to balance preservation and development.

“There is a spirit of cooperation and transparency,” Larsen said.

The candidates for the Port of Coupeville attended a forum Monday at the Greenbank Farm.

Ballots head to voters this week and they have to be postmarked by Nov. 5 in order to be counted.

Also on the ballot is a proposal to reduce port terms from six years to four years.

 


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