Editorial: Lewis, Gregoire, Bowman and Albro for Port Commission

Seattle Times Editorial, October 1, 2013, Seattle Times

THE Port of Seattle is under threat from competitors in British Columbia and because of the widening of the Panama Canal in 2015, East Coast ports as well.

The five commissioners will choose a chief executive officer to replace Tay Yoshitani, who plans to retire next year.

Who is at the helm of the Port matters more than ever.

For position 1, Pete Lewis, who is challenging incumbent Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton, earns our vigorous endorsement for reasons of decorum and ethical leadership.

Pete Lewis is mayor and city manager of Auburn. He’s solid. He knows the subject of freight mobility and transportation. He knows his way around state and local government and how things get done. His ideas on Port policy are not much different from Creighton’s, whose ideas on Port policy were never the problem. Temperament is the issue, and Lewis is calm.

Creighton is notoriously uncivil to people who disagree with him, whether they be his fellow commissioners, Port employees or people in politics.

When Creighton was running for his second four-year term in 2009, a woman accused him of harassing her online. He admitted through his attorney (and he is an attorney himself) that there had been “regrettable written and verbal communications between two adults that while hurtful were never intended to harass.” The Times obtained copies of Creighton’s emails, which our reviewer found unquestionably harassing, with a taunting quality to them.

This is not the behavior that should be expected of a public official. Furthermore, he has subjected others to similar behavior.

Four years ago the incident with the woman — whom he paid $5,000 — might have cost him his re-election, except that he didn’t have an opponent. Now he has one.

For position 2, the obvious choice is incumbent Courtney Gregoire. She was director of President Obama’s National Export Initiative at the Commerce Department in Washington, D.C., and is now an attorney at Microsoft.

She was appointed to the Port commission earlier this year by the existing commissioners to fill a vacant seat, beating out other applicants. Already, the former governor’s daughter is rated “outstanding” by the Municipal League of King County. And besides, her opponent, factory worker John Naubert, is a self-described communist more laser focused on labor issues than the Port’s broader issues.

For position 3, incumbent Stephanie Bowman, executive director of the Washington Asset Building Coalition, a social agency, was appointed to the Port commission in the same competitive process as Gregoire. She has a firm grasp of Port issues and Michael Wolfe, the sales manager of a cellphone-app company and a Democratic Party activist, has not made the case to replace her. Stick with Bowman.

For position 4, the easy choice is entrepreneur Tom Albro, the Port Commission’s president. Albro has a strong civic sensibility and represents the public well. He is also rated “outstanding” by the Muni League, though it is an organization he used to lead.

His opponent, Richard Pope, is a perennial candidate running on the perennial idea of ending the Port’s property tax. These days the tax is used mostly for transportation projects — chiefly the Port’s share of the downtown Seattle tunnel — and environmental cleanup. Neither of those can be canceled and neither can the tax, which Albro understands and Pope does not.

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