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Port of Seattle Commissioner Position No. 3

Salary: $46,839 Port of Seattle Commissioners are nonpartisan and oversee both the seaport in Seattle and SeaTac International Airport.
  • Ahmed Abdi (NP)

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    Stephanie Bowman (NP) Executive Director, Washington ABC

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Biographical Information

What are the three most pressing issues facing the Port of Seattle in the next 5 years

Of those issues, what is the single most critical issue facing the Port of Seattle, and as a Commissioner, what would you propose to positively affect that issue?

How would you rate the Port of Seattle's infrastructure in terms of green and sustainable processes? How could the Port move to be even more eco-friendly?

Do you think the first-in-the-nation $15 minimum wage in the city of SeaTac, which includes the entirety of SeaTac International Airport, is working well for businesses and workers? Why or why not?

How do you believe the Port of Seattle should balance jobs creation and economic growth with environmental concerns?

Do you feel the Northwest Seaport Alliance between the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma has been successful so far, and what if any changes to the Alliance are needed?

Do you support allowing coal or oil to be exported via any of the facilities of the Port of Seattle? Why or why not? More broadly, do you believe the transportation of crude oil and/or coal via railway is a threat to Seattle and the region?

At current growth rates, Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is likely to reach its passenger capacity within a decade. What have you done or will you do as a Port Commissioner to address potential growth at the airport, while ensuring the Port is a good neighbor to people living near the airport?

A fairly significant controversy has arisen due to the locally iconic Ivar’s Fish Bar losing their lease at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, and being replaced with an unknown start-up restaurant, albeit owned by a noted Seattle food personality. Ivar’s has asserted that the RFP process was unfair, arbitrary, and weird, the Port is defending the restaurant selection while simultaneously stating they are investigating irregularities in the RFP process. What are your thoughts on this matter?

Do you support Chris Hansen’s proposal to build a new basketball arena in the SoDo area between the railroad and the customs yard for the Seattle seaport, under the current plans on the table which include complete private funding and incorporate added dollars for the mitigation of freight mobility issues? Why or why not?

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Phone 206-898-3043
Town where you live Seattle
Experience (300 characters max) Executive Director of Washington ABC, a statewide non-profit working on poverty alleviation. Port Commissioner since 2013, being only the 5th woman ever elected to the Port of Seattle in its 106 year history. MBA from Seattle University, BA from University of Idaho. Lives on Beacon Hill.
1) Managing growth at Sea-Tac sustainably: As the gateway to Asia, Sea-Tac International Airport is both a community asset and critical to the region’s economic success. Managing the growth at Sea-Tac in the most environmentally sustainable manner and in concert with airport communities, while maximizing the infrastructure already in place, is the challenge the Port faces over the next five years. As a Port Commissioner, I view all airport operations decisions simultaneously through the lens of environmental sustainability and the effect on the community. This requires actively seeking ways to reduce the environmental footprint of the airport while maximizing efficiency, not simply accepting the status quo. As Sea-Tac undertakes its 20-year sustainable airport master plan, this is the lens by which I as a Port Commissioner will make decisions about the future of Sea-Tac, ensuring it serve our region’s needs AND maintains quality of life for residents. 2) Maintaining the competitiveness of our seaport: Our naturally deep-water harbors not only enable the transport of goods worldwide, but provide opportunities for the middle class jobs that keeps our region from becoming one of have’s / have not’s. My first priority as Port Commissioner in 2013 was to end the corrosive competition between the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, which resulted in job loss and declining infrastructure investments in both harbors. I’m proud to have led negotiations to create the partnership with Tacoma known as the Northwest Seaport Alliance, which in only two years has re-gained market share from Canadian ports and made our seaport competitive again. 3) Training the Workforce of the Future: Jobs in fishing, maritime and manufacturing are going unfilled because our youth haven't had exposure or access to training for these good middle class jobs. If we want to be a community that has opportunities for all, we need to address this, not act in silos. To that end, at the Port I led an effort that tripled of the number of internship opportunities we offer with industry to disadvantaged youth, and am working with the school district to dramatically increase skilled trade training programs within high schools so that our kids graduate and can stay in the region for work in industries paying good wages. Without workers these industries will disappear from our region, making us a place with only high and low wage job opportunities. The Port can and should be part of the solution.
It is critical to the region that the Port manages the growth of Sea-Tac in a way that minimizes the environmental footprint and impact on the surrounding communities, yet maximizes the infrastructure already in place. During my tenure as Port Commissioner I have sought to do this through a variety of initiatives, such as: making improvements to light rail, so that more passengers use Sound Transit to / from the airport, thereby reducing the number of cars coming into Sea-Tac and into our airport communities; working to bring aviation bio-fuels to Sea-Tac, which would dramatically reduce green-house emissions from airplanes, affecting dozens of airport communities; installing pre-conditioned air at passenger gates, so that airplanes can eliminate idling, improving the health of workers on the runway; and requiring ride-sharing companies (aka, Uber) are required to meet the same low vehicle emissions standard – the greenest standard in the country – that Sea-Tac already requires of the taxi fleet. As important as all these measures are, there is only so much growth Sea-Tac can handle. As we look to the future, I believe it is time to start seriously talking about and planning for a second regional airport. This needs to be done in a collaborative manner, so Sea-Tac doesn't end up competing with another airport (as happened in the seaports). As I helped lead the efforts to bring the seaports of Seattle and Tacoma together, I would use my role as Port Commissioner over the next four years to begin the work on how and where another regional airport could function.
The Port has made great strides in reducing its environmental footprint across the different industries it supports, but more needs to be done. During my tenure, some of the major investments the Port undertaken include: creating a stormwater utility to clean up and manage the runoff from the marine cargo terminals; incorporated shore power (electrical plug) for the redevelopment of T-5; added solar panels at Fisherman’s Terminal; planned for aviation bio-fuels at Sea-Tac and added electric vehicle plug-ins, as well as improvements to light rail. Moving forward, the Port can continue to reduce the carbon footprint of operations through such innovative measures as piloting electric drayage trucks; dramatically increasing recycling efforts at Sea-Tac; building capital projects with sustainable materials and continuing to improve the natural environment through such things as remediation of the Duwamish and other habitat restoration projects. All this can and should be done with a lens of sustainably when making policy and budget decisions.
I think the minimum wage increases at Sea-Tac and statewide are a move in the right direction toward insuring those who work earn at least a living wage. However, wages are only part of the issue: workers also need benefits such as access to health insurance, paid time off and career advancement opportunities that help them move above and beyond the minimum wage level of compensation. While some businesses at Sea-Tac (and statewide) have had challenges adjusting to the new wage standards, ultimately I think its good for business to have fairly compensated, healthy employees. No one should have to work three jobs simply to afford to live in King County.
The Port can and should balance job growth and economic prosperity with environmental concerns of residents by always considering the effect a decision would have on the overall quality of life of residents in King County. A perfect example of this is the investment in aviation bio-fuels: though a long-term investment and strategy, this allows Sea-Tac to be the economic engine for the region, connecting people and businesses with the world, yet improves quality of life for residents living near the airport. Additionally, the Port can look toward the future to new industries and technologies to invest in and power the Port's facilities (ex: wind turbines, solar power and LNG); green jobs are very often high-wage job opportunities.
Yes, the historic collaboration between the state's two largest seaports has been successful on numerous fronts, mainly: 1) in re-gaining marine cargo market share from the Canadian ports (7% year-over-year increase); 2) increasing revenue to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma, which has enabled both ports to re-invest in terminal upgrades, and 3) maintain and grown jobs in both harbors. While still in its infancy, the partnership and oversight of both harbors by the two Port Commissions is working well. What can be done to improve the competitiveness of the NWSA even more would be to work with other ports in the US to fix the disadvantage stemming from the Harbor Maintenance Tax.
I don't support the export of coal or oil through facilities at the Port of Seattle or Tacoma.I believe our strategic marine terminals are best used for international container cargo, and philosophically I think fossil fuel exports are the wrong direction for the country and the world. As an eye witness and first responder to the Mosier, Oregon oil train derailment last summer, I saw first-hand the devastation that can occur from a crude oil train spill. While the Port does not regulate train traffic (this is a federal issue), we can - and I have - advocated for greater safety measures around crude oil transport, such as the positioning of crash trucks at specific distances along a rail line; updated train de-coupling procedures and of course much greater scrutiny for rail / tracks improvements.
As stated earlier, I believe managing the growth at Sea-Tac in an environmentally sustainable manner, while taking into account the quality of life of airport communities, is the most pressing issue facing the Port in the next five years. Sea-Tac airport can be a good neighbor by reducing the impact of its operations through such things as investments in aviation bio-fuels and improvements to light rail that lead to reducing traffic congestion around the airport (all mentioned previously). Additionally, the Port can do more to ensure the airport communities realize economic benefits from their proximity to the airport, such as working with those communities on appropriate development (like the NERA project in Burien), as well as through investments like the recently announced ecology fund for the airport communities.
In seeking to level the playing field for small, women and minority firms to compete for fairly for leases at the airport – a value I believe is critically important for a public agency to have - the Port made a commitment to openly and competitively bid all airport dining and retail leases. No business – even an iconic business like Ivar’s – should feel entitled to always have a contract with a public agency. They must compete fairly alongside every other business. That said, I was personally disappointed that Ivar’s came in third in the highly competitive RFP process. Ivar’s, like the Space Needle or Pike Place Market, is a part of our region’s culture and heritage. That is why I worked tirelessly after the RFP process was completed to find a compromise that allowed Ivar’s and two other incumbent businesses to continue to operate out of the airport on a short-term basis to provide much-needed dining options for passengers during the renovation of central terminal, while at the same time making improvements to the next round of lease opportunities to give appropriate consideration for unique Northwest businesses. Taking a leadership role in finding a compromise - one that results in the airport better serving passengers, and takes into consideration the opinions of constituents - is one of the strengths I bring to the Port Commission.
I believe there are better-suited areas for a third major sports arena, including the current proposal to renovate an existing City asset (Key Arena) with private funding. However, what I believe the more important question is, is do we want a city with a middle class and opportunities for everyone to live and work in Seattle, or do we want Seattle to continue on the path of San Francisco, a city bifurcated with only high and low wage earners, trading in the working waterfront for an entertainment district? I will always support and vote to provide opportunities for and to protect the middle class; for a job with dignity for everyone, not just those who could afford a university degree and work in high-tech. The Sodo arena has never been about an arena; it is an existential question about what sort of city we want to have. I believe cities that still have the ability to manufacture should do so – great companies like Nuucor Steel, Filson’s and Harley Marine should not be relegated out of the city and out of state simply to make room for expensive condominiums and restaurants. Industrial land is a precious commodity, and finding the balance between maintaining working industries and accommodating growth and change is the difficult challenge facing the Port Commission. The value I place on the importance of having the fundamentals on which middle class rests - whether that means a job, affordable housing or educational opportunities - are what guide my decision-making as an elected official. logo


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