Steinbrueck, Calkins join Port Commission; Bowman wins re-election

A former Seattle City Councilmember will join the Port of Seattle Commission, while one incumbent successfully defended her seat, and another came up short in his bid for a fourth term.

Peter Steinbrueck defeated Renton deputy public affairs director Preeti Shridhar with more than 58 percent of the vote to fill the opening left by Tom Albro, while Stephanie Bowman earned a second-term with over 60 percent against workers’ rights advocate Ahmed Abdi. In what had become one of the last outstanding races in King County, Ryan Calkins erased a 7,500-vote deficit on election night to unseat John Creighton.

Steinbrueck told the Queen Anne & Magnolia News that economic development is his top priority, along with his campaign promises of good governance and environmental stewardship.  

“I see Port jobs as a partial response to the social inequities and growing wage gap, and affordability crisis,” he said. “I think that there’s a tremendous untapped potential to expand those jobs in our region.”

He believes that starts from the bottom up, by expanding high school internships and vocational training to build a pipeline to those opportunities, and by partnering with business and labor to do so.

Though skeptical about biofuels — because of its reliance on palm oil and both the deforestation and displacement of food crops that come with it — he has aims of “greening” the port. He’s concerned about ultrafine particulate fallout in communities neighboring the airport from takeoffs and landings, in addition to carbon emissions. However, he stressed the need to reduce the number of car trips to and from Sea-Tac, with CO2 emissions from transportation nearly matching the amount caused by aviation.

“I’m very excited and eager to jump in, and I’m super gratified by the strong support I got in this election from all over the county; from labor, from environmentalists, from business leaders and organizations and the broader community,” he said. “I’m charged up and ready to go. I’m there to make a difference. I think that there’s a lot of work to be done and some major, major challenges ahead that I’m eager to start to tackle.”

While Calkins — an importer turned nonprofit business counselor — trailed after the first round of results, subsequent returns flipped the race in his favor. One week after Election Day, he declared victory over the commission’s longest serving member, with a nearly 25,000-vote lead and less than 4,000 left to count.

“We weren’t popping corks until it was basically official,” he told the Queen Anne & Magnolia News.

After campaigning on a platform centered on jobs, the environment, and transparency, Calkins has specific things in mind for all three.

The Eastlake resident said finding a tenant for Terminal 5 is critical, and that doing so would mean hundreds — if not thousands — of family-wage, blue-collar jobs.

He also wants to revisit the ScRAPS program, which helped replace old diesel trucks that served the port with cleaner burning vehicles.

“It’s essentially reducing diesel particulate air pollution right here in Seattle and King County, while also at the same time reducing the greenhouse gas emissions associated with the direct services at the port,” he said.

Though many larger structural changes would have to go through the legislature, Calkins also suggested moving commission meetings beyond Pier 69 and SeaTac to other locations around the county. 

“I think that would help us to get better input for us commissioners, and also would provide us with an opportunity to communicate some of what we’re doing at the Port of Seattle too,” he said.

Steinbrueck, Calkins, and Bowman join Fred Felleman and Courtney Gregoire on the commission. That duo will be up for reelection in 2019.

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