Port commission seat to be a three-way race in August primary vote

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WALLA WALLA -- Port of Walla Walla Commissioner Mike Fredrickson will face two challengers for his District 2 seat in the Aug. 16 primary.

Walla Walla residents Barlow Corkrum and Rich Monacelli will challenge Fredrickson for a six-year term on the three-person commission. The August primary will narrow the field to two candidates who will face off in the general election in November.

The initial election will mark a rematch between Fredrickson and Corkrum, who went head to head in 2005 for the seat vacated by four-term Commissioner Ken Jantz.

Fredrickson, a certified general real estate appraiser who co-owns Associated Appraisers of Walla Walla, said he wants to serve another term to follow through on projects and goals since taking office in 2006.

The Port's "vast real estate portfolio" has been an ongoing concern for Corkrum, who manages properties in and out of the state.

Corkrum said the Port's ownership of numerous properties may be in competition with private enterprise.

He also questions the commission's decision to increase the Port executive director's salary. The 1.5 percent increase this year brings the annual salary to a base pay of $134,726. Commissioners also approved $25,000 in deferred compensation, which Executive Director Jim Kuntz receives if he stays through the end of the year. Corkrum, who also ran for the Port commissioner position in 1999 before his 2005 bid, describes himself as an advocate for transparency and accountability.

Monacelli cited similar reasons for running. He believes his background as director of the former Walla Walla Area Small Business Center gives him the edge against his competitors in working with businesses on the Port's main focus of economic development.

Though never a candidate for the Port Commission, Monacelli is no stranger to Port operations.

For 17 years he served as director of the small business center, which was in the Port of Walla Walla office when it closed last year due to a loss of funding. In that role, he helped counsel new and existing business owners on everything from finding a target market to developing a business plan.

Monacelli has a master's degree in business administration from Western Washington University.

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