Courtesy photo: Queen Anne resident Kelly Charlton is running for the Port of Seattle Commission in Position 2.
Courtesy photo: Queen Anne resident Kelly Charlton is running for the Port of Seattle Commission in Position 2.

Queen Anne resident Kelly Charlton recently saw a pod of orcas while boating in the Puget Sound. He was excited about it when he sat down to talk about his campaign for Port of Seattle Commission Position 2.

“I saw orcas last night; write that down. That was one of the coolest things ever,” Charlton said.

A history buff with an eye on the future, Charlton wants to see the Port of Seattle remain economically strong — and orcas swimming in the Sound.

Before moving to Seattle, Charlton spent more than 20 years providing financial services consulting in Boston. He said he wants to get back into the “for-profit world.”

“The Port of Seattle is one of the biggest economic engines for the Puget Sound region,” Charlton said, “and it’s very important for the economic success of pretty much everyone in the economic region, in one way or the other.”

Charlton is running a lean campaign, using his Linkedin page to share his views on the issues, as well as getting out and talking to people.

“I’m to talk to as many people as I can, and talk to as many legislators and business people and staff at every level,” he said. “I have decided to remain pretty independent.”

He’s chosen the mini-reporting option with the Washington Public Disclosure Commission, meaning he won’t have to file a campaign finance disclosure until he meets a certain funding threshold.

Charlton believes the Port of Seattle is doing a good job, and he wants to see it adapt to future growth in the region, by collaborating with partners, customers and the next generation of industries.

“I think the Port of Seattle, quite frankly, is doing a great job,” he said. “It’s important to remember there are a lot of other organizations the port needs to work with.”

A major challenge will be connecting modes of transportation that support commerce and the region’s population, he said.

The state Legislature passed a bill this past session that will form an airport commission to assess whether another regional airport should be created. The Port of Seattle Commission and Washington Ports Association supported that bill. The Puget Sound Regional Council has an aviation study pending that projects regional demand will more than double by 2050, from 24 million passengers in 2018 to as many as 55.6 million.

Charlton said Sea-Tac International Airport will likely reach capacity in the next 10-15 years, and it’s apparent to anyone who has ever tried to pick up or drop someone off there. He said he wants to see people able to get through security and to their destination more quickly. He also wants to look at how the port can help airlines be more efficient and reduce operating costs, in order to also reduce ticket prices for consumers.

The port commission candidate is also looking at the potential for commercial space travel in the next few decades.

“The dream of Buck Rogers may happen or may not happen,” Charlton said, “but what kind of infrastructure do we need?”

Constant uncertainty in global markets regarding tariffs on goods, such as those shipping from Seattle to China, as President Donald Trump keeps pushing for new deals.

Charlton said tariffs helped promote local manufacturing in the Puget Sound region back in the 1800s, and those duties went away as costs went down.

“Again, you have to look at history,” he said. “Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re bad.”

He said there are real issues with intellectual property theft by China, but tariffs are not the best way to go, because it’s not the Chinese that are paying them.

“Trump’s a bully,” Charlton said.

The port candidate supports increasing environmental sustainability efforts, which will require encouraging technological innovation, he said, pointing to plans for an innovation center at Fishermen’s Terminal.

“I don’t pretend to have all the answers,” Charlton said. “Nobody has all the answers.”

The Port of Seattle is in the process of a major waterfront expansion, and the commission last year approved increasing its property tax levy 3 percent annually during the five-year project. Asked if property taxes should be scaled back following the capital improvements, Charlton said it’s important to have a rainy day fund.

“I think the short answer is that there’s probably going to be a major economic downturn sometime,” he said.

Magnolia residents have been frustrated by a lack of funding to replace the Magnolia Bridge, which is estimated to cost $340 million to $420 million if carried out — there are other options being considered.

Several District 7 Seattle City Council candidates have suggested getting the Port of Seattle involved in the discussion and as an active partner.

Not only should the port be involved, Charlton said, but also Expedia, which is moving its headquarters to the former Amgen site in Interbay and bringing 4,500 employees to the campus.

“It’s not rocket science that it’s going to be a problem,” he said. “You have to talk to them. Again, it’s part of the negotiation and collaboration.”

Read some of Charlton’s strategies for the Port of Seattle at linkedin.com/in/kellycharlton.