Robert Mushen, who led the Port of Astoria Commission through a tumultuous period of infighting, said he will resign as commissioner for health reasons.
Mushen, 73, was appointed to the Port Commission in 2014 to replace Commissioner Jack Bland and ran unopposed for election in 2015. A Cannon Beach resident, he has often served as an emissary between the Port and South County.
He will announce his resignation during Tuesday’s Port Commission meeting.
In April, Mushen suffered a blood pressure spike during a heated discussion among commissioners and Port Attorney Eileen Eakins. He briefly lost the ability to speak coherently during a vote, after which the meeting was canceled and he was taken by paramedics to Columbia Memorial Hospital.
“I can’t take a chance on having that health problem happening again,” Mushen said.
“It’s a sad decision, but it’s really the only one I can come to,” he added. “It’s not about me. It’s about the Port moving forward.”
Mushen said his doctors found no signs of a stroke, but that his personality would not allow him to take it easy and avoid another potential episode.
Mushen served as the commission’s president at a time when the panel was divided 3-2, so he often had to referee contentious debates. Commissioner Bill Hunsinger and former Commissioner Stephen Fulton were critical of both fellow commissioners and Port management, but found themselves on the losing end of several votes.
Earlier this month, commissioners selected Frank Spence, who was elected in May, as president. Mushen was named secretary.
A retired eye surgeon, Mushen moved to Cannon Beach from Seattle 17 years ago. Before joining the Port Commission, he was appointed to replace Ann Samuelson on the Clatsop County Commission in late 2009, serving until replaced by Debra Birkby in January 2011. He has served on the boards of the Seaside Chamber of Commerce and Clatsop Community Action, and on the Clatsop County Health Services Advisory Council, Friends of the Regional Food Bank and Cannon Beach Emergency Preparedness Committee.