Ron Dunning and Clarence Anderson are exceptionally qualified to serve as a Port of Walla Walla commissioner. Both are extremely bright, pragmatic and experienced. The voters cannot go wrong in this race.
The candidates seem to agree on every issue and their approach to the job would be similar. As one of three commissioners they understand it is their job to establish policy and direction.
Their views on the Port’s role are similar and realistic. They want the Port to keep the local economy vibrant by helping the current businesses in the county to grow and prosper. The Port must also work to bring in new businesses that will generate good, living-wage jobs.
They want to see the cities of Walla Walla and College Place working together to attract new industry and business.
However, they don’t believe the Port should focus on recruiting retail businesses, particularly when the businesses that come in would compete with existing, locally owned businesses.
They both see completing four lanes on U.S. Highway 12 from Walla Walla to the Tri-Cities as a top priority.
And both believe the Port District is well managed and has done far more right than wrong. However, they do have questions about how the Port commissioners and staff handled some of the issues surrounding the ill-fated Illahee development. Dunning and Anderson said they would have to spend more time looking into the specifics to determine if the matter was handled properly.
It is just that kind of approach that is needed from a Port commissioner.
Since Dunning and Anderson have parallel approaches, who would serve the public best?
Frankly, we would rather call it a tie. But we can’t do that. Since voters must make a choice, we believe we must also make a choice.
So, it comes down to their backgrounds.
Dunning, who grew up in Walla Walla County, spent most of his life in farming. He now owns an irrigation business based in Lowden. He’s got a variety of other business experiences, all of which have given him insights into business and farming that will be extremely valuable as a Port commissioner.
His experience in irrigation and knowledge of water issues will be particularly helpful.
Anderson has recently become the president/CEO of the Blue Mountain Credit Union. Prior to that he spent 16 years as a professor at the Walla Walla College School of Business. The last eight of those years he was dean of the school. Anderson also has training as an accountant and farming experience.
Anderson has a firm grasp of business in theory and practice. We have no doubt his analytical skills and knowledge would be a plus for the Port.
But we give the edge, albeit an extremely slight one, to Dunning because of his experience with water and irrigation. Water issues will be huge in the next decade and Dunning’s insights and experience would serve the public well.