COMMISSIONER POSITION 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 firm in his support for immigrants, refugees, and the LGBTQ community, and is on board with labor rights: He fought for a $15 minimum wage and paid leave, and supports fair wages and union jobs. He also makes a specific plug for the importance of ethics and transparency at the Port, noting that this year, commissioners will need to select a new executive to follow in the footsteps of former Port CEOs who’ve allegedly been far less than ethical. Given the agency’s recent string of scandals and lawsuits, an emphasis on transparency is a welcome stance.
COMMISSIONER POSITION 3: Ahmed Abdi
Incumbent Stephanie Bowman has done a fine job, but Position 3 challenger Ahmed Abdi would bring the unique experience and perspective we need at the Port. A Somali immigrant and a refugee, Abdi made a name helping to score one of the nation’s first $15 victories in Sea-Tac. From there he’s gone on to provide opportunities for low-income workers as the outreach manager at Seattle’s Fair Work Center, giving Know Your Rights trainings as well as advocating for struggling families on the Seattle Housing Authority board. The Port employs many immigrants, and given the airport, also has the power to influence the fate of people coming and going from the country as well. In that capacity, Abdi’s experiences as an immigrant are more crucial than ever as the Trump administration’s rhetoric and actions surrounding immigrant rights grow more wanton and dire. A vote for Abdi is a vote for someone whose record shows a clear and consistent dedication to helping lift up the least privileged among us.
COMMISSIONER POSITION 4: Preeti Shridhar
On an issue-by-issue basis, not much separates port candidates Preeti Shridhar and Peter Steinbrueck. Both want to push for biofuels at Sea-Tac Airport; both generally want to “green the port”; both want to “incubate small businesses,” prioritizing living-wage jobs. But when you take a closer look, a few key differences should tip your vote toward Shridhar. Herself an immigrant, Shridhar has made immigrant rights a core issue in her campaign as dialogue around those issues continues to heat up on a federal level, and she’s specific on how she’ll use her position at the Port to do so—for example, she’s pushing for an extension on the federal REAL ID requirements that will mandate two-tiered ID verification at airports and federal facilities, so that the Port has more time to raise awareness in immigrant communities that might get tripped up at the airport. Given that many Port workers are immigrants themselves, she’s also promising to listen closely to how immigration policy is affecting them and, in turn, Washington’s trade-dependent economy. Given her numerous endorsements from leaders in the local Indian, Somali, Latino, and Filipino communities, we know that’s not just rhetoric. While Steinbrueck certainly has civic experience from his years on the Seattle City Council, Shridhar would bring the Port a new, vital perspective, backed up by her work in immigrant communities and as the Deputy Public Affairs Administrator for the City of Renton.
Correction: A previous version of this endorsement stated that Peter Steinbrueck “supports the SoDo arena.” That was a reference an Urbanist questionnaire, in which Steinbrueck said “yes” to the question: “Are there any circumstances in which you’d support an arena in SODO.” However, on an King County Democrats questionnaire in which Steinbrueck was asked whether he supports Chris Hansen SoDo proposal as it now stands, he answered “no.”