Sullivan shuffles top officials at port, development department

Nathaniel Herz

Mayor Dan Sullivan this week announced several personnel changes at the Port of Anchorage and the Department of Community Development.

Port Director Rich Wilson is retiring at the end of May, after being hired two years ago.

Deputy Port Director Steve Ribuffo, who has held his own job since 2007, will replace Wilson.

The city's building official and deputy director of development services, Sharen Walsh, will move into Ribuffo's position in mid-May.

Walsh's job will be held temporarily by Ron Thompson, the city's director of public works, Sullivan said in an interview.

As deputy director of development services, Walsh has overseen permitting and plan review -- an area of city government that's drawn the ire of local builders over what they say are inconsistent processes and delays.

"We want better service down there. We need it," said Tyler Loken, the owner of a local construction company.

Loken added he expected that the new role for Thompson, who formerly worked in Walsh's position as the city's building official, would help.

Sullivan said that Walsh's reassignment was unrelated to her performance.

"I think she did a great job, quite frankly. She's very, very efficient, and works well with people," he said.

He added that Walsh is a civil engineer, and that her experience would be useful given that the port is in the middle of an expansion project, which is far behind schedule and over budget.

Sullivan said that local builders have had an antagonistic relationship with city government since he first served on the Anchorage Assembly, more than a decade ago.

"One wants to make sure the rules are followed, and the other wants to get their work done as quick as possible," he said. "And sometimes those things don't mesh together."

Reach Nathaniel Herz at or 257-4311.