Nina Martinez has spent more than 15 years in the software and tech sector, but says the Port of Seattle should make sure new technologies it deploys doesn’t result in job losses.

She plans to leverage her experience advocating for housing, public safety, the environment and immigrant rights if elected to the Port of Seattle Commission in Position 2.

“The biggest piece for me is community engagement,” she said. “I have a strong background addressing issues that are really tough.”

Martinez said the Port of Seattle Commission needs to do more to engage the residents of King County it serves, meeting communities where they are.

Martinez is one of seven candidates for the Position 2 seat being vacated by Courtney Gregoire. Many of the candidates live outside of Seattle and come from more diverse backgrounds than current commissioners, and hope to add more representation within the agency.

“There needs to be more diversity,” Martinez said, “especially when you look at where the port is.”

While the port is attempting to increase diversity through its business contracts, Martinez said that isn’t enough. She hopes passage of Initiative 1000, overturning a state ban on affirmative action, will boost the port’s efforts.

Martinez is board chair for the Latino Civic Alliance, and is tapped into the needs of the Latino community, she said. She sees more growth on the horizon in South Park, which has a large Latino population, and said that growth needs to be better managed to avoid any negative impacts.

Not only should the port do a better job communicating its actions and goals to the voters it represents, Martinez said, it also needs to improve communications with other agencies to avoid duplication of efforts.

“We have to come together. There has to be a shared communication plan,” she said.

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. Martinez said she’s sensitive to taxes, but also needs to consider the port’s future maintenance needs.

“I get taxed for everything,” she said, “so I’m always going to be questioning.”

When it comes to addressing an aeronautical and maritime workforce shortage, Martinez wants the port to be able to provide more apprenticeship programs. She said supports need to be in place to help people in those programs, who need to be able to still provide for their families. Supportive housing would be one way to help, she said.

“They need wraparound services,” Martinez said. “They need support services.”

The Position 2 candidate wants the Port of Seattle to also contribute more to addressing regional issues surrounding housing affordability, noting the agency’s large land holdings.

Martinez makes a living in the tech sector, and she said technology can be used to improve customer engagement and efficiency, such as at the airport, but the commission should make sure it can be deployed in a way that doesn’t result in people losing their jobs.

“We live in a hub of advanced technology,” Martinez said, “and I think we should be partnering with Microsoft and Amazon,” as well as local universities.

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.

Martinez said she sees Moses Lake as a great location for accommodating growth, but if a recommendation is for another regional airport on the west side, she wants a location that is fair and minimizes impacts on residents, who need to be able to provide feedback.

“We all need transportation,” she said. “We all need to fly out, but we also need compromise.”

Terminal 5 is being upgraded to support international marine cargo for a future lease agreement. Martinez said the business that takes over that space needs to reflect the port’s values, providing living-wage jobs and using green technology.

“It’s like a clean slate, developing it from the floor up,” she said.

When it comes to minimizing environmental impacts, Martinez support the electrification of trains and fleets, but also making sure businesses are not overly burdened.

“My father was a trucker, and I know the cost of running a truck,” she said. “It’s hard.”

The Port of Seattle and Puget Sound Clean Air Agency have a Seaport Truck Scrappage and Replacements for Air in Puget Sound (ScRAPS 2) program to help trucking partners replace their vehicles, but the funding is tapped out, Martinez said. The port should put more money into such initiatives, she said, while also monitoring the impacts and granting extensions when needed.

Martinez also wants to see more work put into cleaning up the Duwamish River. While a lot has been done so far, she said, it’s still having an impact on residents, some of whom are still fishing in those waters.

“You can have big signs that tell people it’s polluted,” she said, “but people have to eat.”

Learn more about the candidate at