Vote Calkins, Abdi, and Persak for Port of Seattle Commissioner

These candidates for will bring strong environmental and labor perspectives to the commission.

Port of Seattle Commissioner – Position No. 1

Ryan Calkins Incumbent John Creighton has a fairly impressive environmental resume, but when Shell barged into Puget Sound with its Arctic drilling platform in 2015, he was unwilling to stand against dirty energy. Calkins, on the other hand, says he would have said Shell No, and we believe him. No candidate for Port Commissioner has been so precise in his opposition to the Port’s potential role in fossil-fuel extraction. “I will vote No on any effort to lease Port facilities to fossil-fuel-extracting equipment,” Calkins says. Add to that some very specific ideas for how to use the Port’s authority and dollars to help reduce urban sprawl, wean us from our car addiction, and reduce carbon emissions, and you’ve got a fresh, eco-conscious voice to add to a Commission that could definitely use another shove in that direction. For years, Calkins ran one of Seattle’s Greenest Businesses (a designation awarded by Seattle City Light in 2015), and he currently works for a nonprofit that supports low-income entrepreneurs. He’s also on board with labor rights. He fought for a $15 minimum wage and paid leave, supports fair wages and union jobs, and makes a specific plug for the importance of ethics and transparency at the Port. Given the agency’s string of scandals and lawsuits in recent years, that’s a welcome stance.

Port of Seattle – Commissioner Position No. 3

Ahmed Abdi A Somali immigrant and refugee who has built his career through supporting low-income workers and immigrants (too often one and the same), Abdi would be a refreshing and crucial voice on a Commission too often dominated by career politicians and corporate businesspeople. Abdi was in on the ground floor of Washington’s very first fight for $15, counting himself among the advocates who helped pass a minimum wage in the city of Sea-Tac—the first such win in the nation. He’s now an outreach manager for Seattle’s Fair Work Center, providing Know Your Rights trainings and other opportunities for the region’s low-wage workers. He also serves on the Board of Commissioners for the Seattle Housing Authority, advocating for struggling families. Incumbent Stephanie Bowman does a respectable job, but Abdi has a chance of truly shaking things up, and, when it comes to the rights of low-income, immigrant workers, calling out lip service when he sees it.

Port of Seattle – Commissioner Position No. 4

John Persak A longshoreman and current Vice President of the ILWU Local 19, Persak is a voice for labor in this race, no question. He puts fair wages and collective bargaining at the top of his priority list, and as a union advocate he’s spoken on behalf of workers’ rights countless times and also settled specific, Port-related worker disagreements. He has served on a slew of boards and committees, including the Port’s Energy and Sustainability Committee, the City’s Freight Mobility Plan Advisory Committee, and a stakeholder group for the Duwamish River Opportunity Fund. He’s also a blue-collar guy who talks a green game: He strongly opposes coal and oil exports from any port in Washington state, advocating instead to transition those workers into sustainable-energy careers. That might seem far afield for the Port of Seattle, but his spot as Port Commissioner could influence statewide policy. His strongest opponent, former City Council President Peter Steinbrueck, is a smart and capable leader with a lot of good ideas, but he may care more about Ivar’s being booted from the airport than about Port contracts with fossil-fuel companies.

Read the rest of our endorsements here. Primary ballots will be mailed Wednesday, July 12. Ballots must be postmarked by Tuesday, August 1. Wondering where your ballot is? Check the county’s Ballot Tracker.

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