Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Vol. CLIV, Issue 10
Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Whitman news since 1896

Whitman Wire

Port of Walla Walla Commissioner Elections Approach

 The Port of Walla Walla will be holding an election on Nov. 7 to replace the former commissioner for District 2, Mike Fredrickson.

The current candidates for the election are Amy Schwab and Mary Wollmuth. 

Amy Schwab

Schwab has a wide variety of experiences ranging from consulting for small businesses to bigger corporations such as Nike and Intel. She has also worked to combat climate change at the National Renewable Energy Lab. Schwab also mentioned her involvement with the City’s Planning Commission and the Walla Walla Air Travel Coalition.

Schwab said that when she first came to Walla Walla, she became familiar with the Port by exploring the different agencies it had to offer.

 “My academic background is economics and I have long had an interest in how businesses get started and create wealth in a community,” Schwab said. “[The Port is] really the sweet spot for job creation and wealth creation.” 

Schwab’s priorities for Port of Commissioner include working with the Port and other agencies and organizations across the county to lead a community discussion of how Walla Walla should be in 2050. Schwab says that in spite of past economic development in academic institutions, viticulture and tourism, she believes the future of Walla Walla will be tied to housing affordability for college students.

She emphasized the importance of preparing for the electrification of aircraft at the regional airport. Schwab said there are already two-seat flight training airplanes that are fully certified as electric. Eventually, she hopes there will be small electric planes with seats accommodating six to nine people which will fly from Walla Walla to Spokane to Portland. 

Mary Wollmuth

According to Wollmuth’s campaign website, she is a former business owner and resident of the Walla Walla Valley since 1995. Wollmuth and her late husband, along with two business partners, started Three Rivers Winery in 1999.

Wollmuth said that housing affordability is a central focus of her campaign, and has been a barrier for some companies in the Walla Walla Valley. She shared that when she moved to the Walla Walla Valley in 1995, housing affordability was also an issue. 

“We had a hard time finding a place to live. We had two kids and there was just not a lot available. So I don’t think that’s a new issue, but I think, with the wineries, it’s becoming a bigger issue. And we’re talking about family wage homes too because that’s what our mission is: family wage jobs,” Wollmuth said.

Wollmuth believes that everyone deserves a place to live but she doesn’t believe that everyone needs to be a homeowner. 

“We didn’t have a home until we could afford one. [There were] a lot of years [of] saving up in order to put a down payment for a home. I think everyone deserves a place to live, but I don’t know if homeownership is necessarily for everyone,” Wollmuth said.

Wollmuth said that the Port’s 2023 Economic Development Plan is expansive for a reason. 

“I think things move and you need to be willing to move with them. They’re [the Port] not the only people that do big business plans, a lot of people do, and it’s not necessarily that it’s not accountability, it’s just things happen fairly quickly. You just have to be ready for it.”

Wollmuth said that in the ongoing economic development plan, there is a necessity for internet infrastructure that is sustainable and accessible for everyone in the Walla Walla Valley.

She discussed the importance of communication and collaboration with other agencies. She noted that she is willing and ready to work with county commissioners and officials. 

Commissioner Kip Kelly represents District 1 and is serving his first term. His district includes more than half of the city of Walla Walla and the entire Stateline area. Kelly retired in 2019 from a 36-year career as a sales executive with Coffey Communications. He is also an instrument-rated pilot and has served on the Port’s Air Travel Coalition since 1995. 

Kelly initially ran for Port Commissioner because he wanted to stay involved with the community after retirement and was interested in the Port’s work. His priorities for his term include expanding internet infrastructure, improving transportation, addressing housing affordability and advocating for economic development. 

Kelly made it a point to meet with the candidates for Port of Commissioner to answer whatever questions they had. He believes it will be key for the candidates to have as much background as possible prior to being sworn in so they can start contributing from day one.

He does not have an endorsement in the upcoming election for the District 2 commissioner.

“I’m going to work with the winner,” said Kelly. “I think both of them [Schwab and Wollmuth] are committed to the role in the agency. So no, I don’t have an endorsement. [I think] people [are] going to be more than comfortable working with either one of them.”


Leave a Comment
More to Discover

Comments (0)

All Whitman Wire Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *