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2009 General Election Snapshots

Candidates seek continued progress for Port of Sunnyside

Jim Grubenhoff considered seeking office as a Port of Sunnyside commissioner six years ago, but decided to wait because he still had children at home.

Now the lifelong Sunnyside resident is seeking his chance, running as a candidate for the port's position #3.

"This is a good time," he said of the run for office. "My kids are out of college and on their own, and I'm still young enough that I have a lot of energy to put into it," Grubenhoff said of a potential seat on the Port commission.

Grubenhoff, who owns Harold's Repair, said his primary interest in running for the seat is continuing the Port's momentum in bringing jobs and industry to Sunnyside.

"I see the advantages of supporting economic development," he noted, adding that a lack of family paying jobs has resulted in a migration out of town of the city's young people.

But he sees the potential for better days ahead.

"I think Sunnyside is really growing," Grubenhoff says. "I think it's ready to bust wide open."

Grubenhoff praised the vision and efforts by Port of Sunnyside commissioners in having land ready and available for business, such as the recent deal that landed Bleyhl's petroleum storage site.

"The Port has done an outstanding job," he says. "All the commissioners have done an outstanding job."

Grubenhoff is opposing one of those commissioners, St. Clair Woodworth, for the port seat.

If elected, Grubenhoff said he would seek out training opportunities to stay up-to-date on matters of interest to the Port.

One of the issues the Port is involved in is the Sunnyside Airport, which has been the focal point of a debate and year-long moratorium on land use changes for nearby properties.

"I just haven't had an opportunity to study this enough," Grubenhoff said of his view of the ongoing stalemate over the airport, which has seen the Port take an official stance favoring runway expansion and limiting land uses for adjacent private property owners.

"If elected I plan to take it very seriously and discuss things openly," Grubenhoff said.

As for why voters should consider him for the Port post, Grubenhoff said he is a longtime, reputable businessman in Sunnyside and most people know his face from coming into his repair store at one time or another.

Grubenhoff also said his community service is a point of consideration, including service as a Sunnyside Rotarian and board memberships for Lower Valley Crisis Support Services and the Lower Valley Credit Union.

Woodworth is marking his 19th year as a Port of Sunnyside commissioner.

"I've been dedicating my life to Sunnyside and the Port," said Woodworth, a farmer and lifelong Sunnyside resident.

Woodworth, too, has served on a host of Yakima Valley boards and community service outreach, such as with the Lower Valley Credit Union and with the chamber of commerce and Washington Asparagus Commission.

During his 19 years in office the Port has seen much change, most recently the development of the Golob Landing business park on East Edison Avenue.

"Our main goal is to take care of industrial wastewater and get jobs in town, and retain those jobs," Woodworth said.

Both Woodworth and Grubenhoff said a challenge that awaits the Port is continuing to work with the ever-changing wastewater requirements imposed by the state's Department of Ecology.

Woodworth noted that the next regulation coming down the pike will require the Port to deal with phosphorous in its wastewater.

The wastewater plant, says Woodworth, attracts businesses like Darigold because of its availability. That, in turn, brings jobs to the area.

Looking ahead, Woodworth said Blueline Manufacturing will be building on the East Edison site.

As for the airport discussion, Woodworth said the Port is doing its part to help Sunnyside's airport prepare for the future. That includes covering irrigation ditches to accommodate future runway expansion and overseeing the 10 acres the Port owns that could be used for a terminal building.

Woodworth added that because of federal funding Sunnyside has an obligation to grow its airport to meet guidelines.

During his nearly two decades in office, Woodworth said he's had the opportunity to network with other port officials around the state and has even met with Governor Christine Gregoire and her husband.

Though ports can at times be rivals for attracting business, Woodworth said he has enjoyed the opportunity to work together with other commissioners, such as those from the ports of Grandview and Benton County.

Woodworth also praised the Port's legacy of growth, taking pride in the jobs it has added and retained over the years.

"We're in a depression and the Port of Sunnyside is financially sound," he said. "We have not laid off employees."

Woodworth said his and the Port's track record over the past two decades are why voters should consider him on their ballots.

"It is gratifying to contribute to the economic growth that provides jobs and security to all of our people," he said. "I not only understand the position of commissioner, but enjoy doing it for the betterment of our community."

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