Now a retired farmer and a great-grandfather, Jack Miller is running for the Port of Columbia’s District 3 commissioner seat.

He is challenging incumbent Sean Milligan for the six-year term. The primary election is Aug. 3.

Miller describes himself as a fiscal conservative with more than three decades experience in agricultural economics before retiring — including 20 years as the owner of Barjak Farms in Waitsburg — and he looks to help the Port bring in business and industry.

“Several people in Columbia County called me lately to run for Port commissioner because they are not happy with the direction of the Port,” Miller said. “I hope to be the voice of the people who live here.”

Having resided in Waitsburg since moving there in 1975 with his wife, Barbara, Miller has held leadership roles in the farming landscape.

Born in Outlook, Wash., and raised in Prosser, he graduated from Washington State University with a degree in agricultural economics.

In addition to his two decades as the owner of Barjak Farms, Miller also served for 31 years as the farm manager of the Coeur d’Alene Tribal Farm in Tensed, Idaho.

Meanwhile, his interests in hunting and trapshooting have gotten him on the board of directors for gun clubs in Walla Walla and Spokane.

Miller says his experiences make him more than qualified to be a Port commissioner.

“I feel that my background in economics, business management and agriculture would be an asset in the pursuit of economic development in Columbia County,” Miller said.

“I have over 30 years of experience both working for a board of directors and serving on a board. I have learned the importance of achieving consensus while being extremely careful in the handling of other peoples’ money, in this case tax dollars.

“As I am now retired, I will have ample time to devote to community service and the achievement of the Port’s goals.”

Miller sees the controversial Touchet Valley Trail as his top issue facing the Port, and he is prepared to get involved.

“People have become very emotional and vocal concerning this issue,” Miller said.

“My opinion is that the sole reason for the Port’s existence is economic development. If this trail has potential to measurably enhance the economic health of Columbia County, then a campaign to educate the public is needed. If it has little or no economic impact, it should be dropped.”

Miller says he would like to help the Port be more conservative in its actions.

“The only reason for the existence of this organization is to attract business and industry to this area,” Miller said. “I believe that money spent by the Port should have a positive, direct, measurable impact on the residents of this county.”

Hector del Castillo can be reached at hectordelcastillo@wwub.com or 509-526-8317.

Hector writes stories about local sports, helps produce the daily section and updates the web site. A lifelong sports nut having grown up in Maryland, he joined the U-B with more than 15 years experience in journalism.

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