What is it like when a little boy sits on the porch and listens intently to his grandfather’s stories, or has a father who teaches him to work hard? When a little boy is taught core values, is shown the stars and the sea, observes what it is like to serve the public and the community, that little boys grows up to become a man like Jon Petrich.
Today Jon is his own man and he practices what he was taught. Married with two children, he is dedicated to providing for his family and being someone they will be proud of. He is also following in his grandfather’s footsteps, wanting to serve his community, by running for Port Commissioner for the Port of Anacortes. And raised in a maritime family, he is also doing what he loves… being on the water.
He is where he was always meant to be.
Jon’s great-grandfather came over from Croatia and started a ship building business in Tacoma, WA. After his great grandfather and brothers sold the shipyard a lot of the family turned to law. But the sea was in Jon’s blood and as a kid, starting at around ten years old, he spent summers in Kodiak, Alaska fishing with his aunt on a commercial fishing boat.
As a child, his family would spend time at a beach cabin his grandfather owned on Fox Island. On the deck was an old signal light from a navy ship and his grandfather would use it to communicate with naval ships as they passed by. This would become one of Jon’s favorite memories, sharing moments with his grandfather as they signaled the ships.
Everything in his life seemed to revolve around the sea. It called to him and it still does.
Born in Skagit Valley, Jon’s family moved to Guemes Island. In 2002, Jon graduated from high school and like most graduates he flew the nest. Jon went to school at Eastern Washington University where he studied Finance and Economics. A career choice he assumed he would make good money in. But being so far from the water made him uncomfortable, he realized the water was really a part of his core and who he was.
He became a financial advisor after graduating from college. After two years as a financial advisor he reevaluated if this was really the career for him, the answer was unequivocally no.
Jon put himself through college working as a commercial fisherman or working for a charter fish company in Alaska. He maintained contact with a lot of the people and went back to doing what his heart and soul wanted to do… work on the water.
“The first day I turned in my suit and tie and put on my XTRATRUFs and Carhartt jacket again, it felt like home. This is where I belonged. This is where I wanted to be. This is me,” Jon said.
Part of his decision to make a career change was factored on finding a steadier career choice so he could provide for his family. Being a financial advisor was not always a stable workforce. In the maritime industry if one part of the maritime industry was having a hard time, he knew could transfer his skills to another part of the industry.
But the real truth was the siren call of the sea called to him and he could not longer resist.
Another calling was public service. Jon’s grandfather was someone he always looked up to and had great respect for. His grandfather had a successful law practice but he wanted to make a difference in people’s lives.
“He set a really good example for everyone and was a great example of a public servant. It was always about the people. About giving back,” Jon said.
Like his grandfather, a former U.S. Senator, Jon wanted to serve his community. He wanted to make a difference, do what was right for his family, his community, and himself.
“I want life skill experience, I want to be involved in the community. I have a passion for public service. The idea of public service was always in the back of my head,” Jon said.
The idea for running for the port position started in January. He spent the next couple of months researching what the port was involved in and what their vision for the future was. The more he learned, the more excited he got, and the more committed he became. After much reflection, talking to his father, his wife, friends, and people in the community, Jon fully committed in March to run for Port Commissioner for the Port of Anacortes.
Jon feels that his life was shaped for this position. Being on the water, growing up in a maritime family, working various jobs in the industry, his education in finance and economics, the influence from his father and grandfather in public service, all of this shaped him for this position. He is excited about the port’s future, respectful of its past, and wants to be involved in shaping the part the port’s role is in the community.
Jon Petrich is correct—this is where he belongs, where he is meant to be. The sea is in Jon’s genes. It is who he is. It is his destiny. And, so his serving his community.