Thursday, May 3, 2012

New Port of Anchorage Director Named

Richard Wilson, who spent 13 years as a city administrator with the Alaskan island of St. George, has been named the new director of the Port of Anchorage, according to an announcement by Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan on May 2.

Wilson will assume his new job May 14, Sullivan said, taking over for deputy port director Steve Ribuffo, who has served as the port’s interim director since the retirement of Bill Sheffield from the top spot Jan. 15 after 10 years in the position.

Before joining the port, Sheffield was Alaska’s governor from 1982 to 1986. After one term as the state’s highest elected official, he served as chair of the board for Alaska Railroad from 1986 to 1997 and was then promoted to become the state-owned railroad’s president and CEO.

He served in that role from 1997 until joining the port in 2001. He had come under increasing criticism during his final years as port director, mostly due to a port expansion project which had ballooned in cost since its origins in 2005.

The project, originally estimated to cost $360 million, has jumped to about $1 billion and counting. Last year this led to Anchorage Assemblyman Paul Honeman saying that Sheffield should be fired.

Incoming director Wilson, who has been an Alaskan for 37 years, directed the planning, design and finance of a new commercial fishing port while with the island of St. George, which has a population of about 100 people. He previously spent 13 years as development director at Anchorage International Airport.

“I’m thrilled that Mr. Wilson accepted the position and I’m confident that he will work conscientiously to address the current changes and issues with the port expansion project,” Sullivan said in a statement.

Although Sheffield resigned earlier this year, he’s still involved with the port; he’s currently being retained by Anchorage under a one-year, $60,000 consulting contract.