A change to the qualifications needed to serve on the Haines Port and Harbor Advisory Committee might not actually alter the makeup of the committee any time soon, unless more people turn in applications.
In August, the borough assembly approved relaxed restrictions for who can sit on the port and harbor committee. Before, the seven-member group was to be composed to three commercial vessel owners, two non-commercial vessel owners, one tariff-regulated company owner or representative, and one community member at large who has a business related to harbor activities.
Resident Mike Denker petitioned the assembly to change those requirements. He said it was a constitutional violation to require a resident own a specific type of property to qualify for public service.
“We need a process that’s welcoming and basically a property qualification or anything like that works as a ‘keep out’ sign,” Denker said.
The new requirements took out the ownership mandate and replaced it with ‘experience.’ It also reduced the number of commercial seats from three to two and adds another seat for a community member at-large. At an August meeting, Assemblyman Ron Jackson said it was the assembly’s responsibility to enable more balanced representation on the committee.
“The harbor is not just for primary user groups down there, it’s a resource for the entire community,” Jacksons aid. “And to balance that membership out a little more equally, I think it the right thing to do myself.”
The current port and harbor committee and Harbormaster Shawn Bell opposed changing the requirements at the time.
Now, three committee members’ terms are set to expire at the end of this month: Terry Pardee, Don Turner Jr. and Glen Jacobsen. Pardee is a commercial vessel owner, Turner a non-commercial vessel owner and Jacobsen is a member at-large. All three plan to apply for re-appointment.
Because the harbor committee can no longer have three commercial seats, Harbormaster Bell asked Pardee if he wanted to apply for the other at-large seat. Pardee said he felt he could represent the wider community, so he said yes.
“It’s not uncommon to have people with each foot in two separate worlds of what we’re trying to accomplish on these boards and commissions,” Pardee said. “Hopefully there’s no conflict of interest concerns because I don’t think it rises to that at all. If it does, we’ll deal with that as it comes along.”
Bell said no one else has applied for a seat on the committee, yet.
“If other individuals applied for that position, that would be at the prerogative of the committee and the mayor of who would best represent that seat,” Bell said.
Denker says he’s seen mayors and assemblies struggle to get people interested in serving on committees and boards. And he says he hopes more people will put in applications.
“This committee works on a lot of issues that is of a nature in this community that has a lot of interest,” he said.
Applications are first reviewed by the committee, which makes a recommendation to the mayor. The mayor then makes appointments that need to be confirmed by the assembly. The three port and harbor committee terms expire November 30th, but members will serve until they are re-appointed or a successor is appointed. An application form can be found on the borough’s website.