When Cassi Marshall decided to run for Camas-Washougal Port Commissioner, District 2, earlier this year, it wasn’t part of a planned career path.
She’s been employed at the Washougal School District for the past 17 years, working first in the highly capable student program, and for the past 13 years as Assistant to the Superintendent.
“To be honest, I wasn’t looking to run for a Port Commission position (a four-year term), but some trusted friends encouraged me to consider it, and I am so glad that they did,” said Marshall. “My learning curve related to ‘All Things Port’ has been pretty steep since May, but the more I learn, the more I’m convinced that it’s an incredibly good fit for me. Our Port contributes to our high quality of life in so many ways — providing space for local businesses to provide local jobs at the Industrial Park, a quality marina and airport, amazing parks and trails, and phenomenal community events.”
She’s running a competitive race to unseat incumbent CW Commissioner Bill Ward.
Why do you want to be a CW Port Commissioner?
“I have personal and professional experience with small business and development projects, so I’m eager to learn more about the Industrial Park tenants, products and services … and anyone who knows me knows I’m a huge parks/trails nerd (or maybe “advocate” is a better word), so the recreation related functions of the Port are super inspiring to me. And then there’s the Waterfront Development project! I’d be so excited to get to be part of the team that works to ensure development that complements both downtowns, is efficient and sustainable, improves public access to the water, and provides the amenities that the residents are looking for. I also love that the Port serves the entire Camas-Washougal area, since I’ve had one foot in each community for many years now, and really see the entire area functioning as one East County in so many ways.”
What role does the CW Port Commission play?
“The Commission meets twice a month, and is responsible for setting the Port’s policies, and Commissioners vote on recommendations brought to them by Port staff members. I’ve learned a great deal about the workings of a publicly-elected board from working closely for many years with the Washougal School District Board of Directors, and also from my time as an appointed member of the Camas Parks Commission. I have a true and deep appreciation of the importance of staff-commission trust and respect, and I think that I work well in such groups — I love the collaborative processes involved in group decision-making! Both WSD and Parks have also taught me how important public input, transparency, and equity are to all public agency decisions — great lessons that I’d love to be able to apply to future Port work.”
What direction is the CW Port going?
“I’m really excited about the proposed Waterfront development, which will have a huge and long-lasting impact in the community. I’d like to bring issues expressed in the community to these discussions — for instance, creating new spaces that complement both downtowns. Proper Port development is a huge boost to all of East County. I’d also like to see more focus on energy efficiency and sustainability in future Port projects, and RKm, the developer currently working with the Port, seems very supportive of such long-term efficiencies.”
“I’m also looking forward to working with the Port in the creation of new infrastructure and jobs, another really big contribution toward quality of life. Businesses at the Industrial Park already provide about 1,000 jobs, and there is room and demand for growth there. Local work means fewer people having to commute across the bridges daily, meaning less congestion for all. It also concentrates those workers’ taxes and spending dollars here in the community, which is another bump to our local economy.”
“Port taxes are a small percentage of our overall property taxes, but all of these funds collected go toward capital projects. Port staff is really savvy in obtaining matching grants, so they are able to multiply the benefits of these revenues. Plans are in the works to add another building at the Industrial Park, and historically, these spaces have been leased even before construction is completed.”
“The expansion options for Grove Field airport have been of interest in the community for some time. It’s my understanding that the full Commission and Port staff are in agreement that the Waterfront Development is the Port’s primary focus at this time. I don’t believe that there are current plans for a major expansion of the airport any time soon. That said, there are some smaller improvements, like the addition of space for a pilots’ planning office with good internet service, that I think should be a priority. The airport community contributes significant hours of volunteer service, specifically focused on the youth in our community, and I’d like to see them supported with these improvements in safety and convenience.”
Can you elaborate more about your background in public service?
“I’ve lived in Camas for 18 years, most of those in the Crown Park neighborhood. We just recently moved near Forest Home. During that time, I’ve been involved in PTA at Helen Baller, helped coach Little League teams, worked on the Festival of Trees Committee, and the Community Center Development Committee. Most recently, I’ve served on the City of Camas Parks Commission for a number of years now. It’s an appointed position, and we serve in an advisory capacity. I’m pretty active with Parks, as well as our non-profit group, Partners with Camas Parks and Recreation. As our name suggests, we work to support parks, recreation programs, and more. We’re in our third year of tackling our invasive English ivy problem through the Camas Ivy League. We have very dedicated volunteers who come out to multiple events per year, and our goal for 2019 is to remove ivy from (at least!) 2019 local trees.”
Cassi met her husband, Rick, at Prairie High School. After high school, they went to opposite coasts for school with Cassi earning an aeronautical engineering degree from MIT. She took a break from work when they had children, and then decided to work for the Washougal School District, which was a great fit for her family life, and incredibly rewarding work.
Her two children, Joe and Carly, now in their 20s, both attended Camas schools, Clark College and UW.