Preeti Shridhar believes she has the connections and knowledge to take on the challenges facing the Port of Seattle as it expands its capacity to accommodate economic growth by land, sea and air.

Shridhar is one of seven candidates seeking the Position 2 seat after incumbent Courtney Gregoire announced she would not seek re-election this year. She ran against Peter Steinbrueck for Position 4 in 2017.

She spent 15 years working at the City of Seattle, first for the utilities department and then in the Office of Environment and Sustainability. Shridhar was involved in creating a diversity initiative that preceded Seattle’s Race and Social Justice Initiative.

Shridhar now works for the City of Renton, where her various roles include communications, intergovernmental relations, inclusion programs and overseeing the municipal cable channel.

“A lot of these things I sort of started,” she said. “…I’m very fortunate that I’ve been one step behind politicians, so I can make things happen.”

Shridhar wants to strengthen the Northwest Seaport Alliance and other partnerships with the Port of Seattle, and said she sees opportunities to work with growing ports around eastern parts of India and Vietnam.

The commission candidate said she has a master’s degree in international trade and a worldwide network that includes China, India, Vietnam and Singapore, which she wants to leverage to create new partnerships with the Port of Seattle.

“Unfortunately, there are tariffs,” she said, “but there are also opportunities.”

Shridhar also wants to increase vendor contracts with minority-owned businesses, noting the Indian population in King County has grown 900 percent in the past decade.

During her 2017 run for the Port of Seattle Commission, Shridhar had pushed for exploring the use of biofuels in airplanes at Sea-Tac International Airport. The port cosponsored the first Washington Sustainable Aviation Fuels Summit in March, where Boeing and Alaska Airlines expressed an interest in biofuels.

“This has been done in other countries,” Shridhar said, “so it’s going to take a little bit of time.”

Addressing workforce shortages in the region’s aviation and maritime industry is another issue Shridhar is interested in taking on. She said she worked to get funding for Renton technical colleges when Boeing was still deciding where to manufacture its new 737 Max aircraft, those planes now grounded pending a software fix that needs approval by regulators. Shridhar has the endorsement of the Puget Sound Pilots organization.

Because of its position as an economic generator for the region, Shridhar said the Port of Seattle can likely access more resources than King County that it should consider using to help advance regional goals, such as addressing transportation, housing affordability and homelessness.

“It’s about sharing of costs, but it’s also about sharing of the future and planning,” Shridhar said.

The port should be more involved in lobbying for federal transportation funds in commercial corridors, she said. Shridhar does see the port getting involved in the ongoing discussion about funding the replacement of the Magnolia Bridge.

The waterfront expansion the Port of Seattle is carrying out now has been made possible, in part, to an increased tax levy, up 3 percent over the next five years. While government entities in Washington are restricted by a 1 percent annual cap on property tax increases, expenditure growth for the port is closer to 7 percent, Shridhar said. She believes residents would be more supportive if there was more transparency and accountability when it comes to the work being done by the port.

“The accountability is not apparent across the board,” Shridhar said.

The commission candidate currently plans to continue working for the City of Renton if elected, she said, but may reassess that decision at a late date.

“I think it will actually be a benefit to both [agencies],” she said.

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