Opinion

Port of Seattle offers rare political opportunity | Roegner

The Wizard from the TV show
The Wizard from the TV show 'Deadliest Catch' loaded Red King Crab pots at Fishermen’s Terminal in September before heading up to Alaska.
— image credit: Courtesy of the Port of Seattle

Do you like to travel and visit exotic places? Meet important people? Would you like someone else to pay for it?

Do you want Federal Way to have a bigger role in regional decision making? Would you like to hold an elected position, but feel like serving on the city council isn’t the right fit for you?

If the answer to all of the above is yes, then you may want to keep your eye on the Port of Seattle.

The Port of Seattle is run by a board of five commissioners who work part time and are elected countywide. Commissioner Gael Tarleton was recently elected to the state Legislature and has announced she will resign from the board in January.

The remaining board members will appoint a replacement to serve until the 2013 elections. Whoever is elected will complete the balance of Tarleton’s term through 2015.

The Port of Seattle is one of the most important government bodies in the state and nation. They are responsible for moving business and agricultural products from our state and country through the Port and then to the rest of the world. Commissioners travel all over the world recruiting different businesses and countries to use our Port to distribute their products throughout the United States.

They also provide policy direction and oversight to SeaTac Airport — although most people only identify with the airport if they are flying someplace or if they didn’t like the third runway idea.

What’s the catch to this glamorous job?

It isn’t for amateurs. The Port of Seattle is a big business, and it’s impact on our state economy is significant. That shouldn’t scare you away if you are interested, but it is a serious business. If your only knowledge is that the planes that fly over your house are too noisy, then this might not be the job for you.

But this is a rare opportunity, and one we shouldn’t miss.

Federal Way not only sits between two of the bigger cities in the state, but also between the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma. We have access to I-5, SR 167 and the valley commuter rail. Our future holds an extension by Sound Transit from SeaTac Airport through Federal Way to Tacoma and on to Olympia. Trucks and trains that haul produce and goods use transit lines and highways nearby. Highline Community College is also nearby and has international relationships already in place.

The Federal Way Chamber of Commerce has been working with numerous regional partners to position the business community as a regional voice. The major topics of the upcoming legislative session will be the economy (think Port), transportation and education.

We have regional leaders in King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer, and the new chair of the Senate Transportation Committee is our own Tracey Eide. Sen. Joe Fain in the neighboring district knows our community well and is becoming a player, so we have support on both sides of the aisle in the State Senate. We also have House members from both parties.

Federal Way is well positioned to provide someone a regional portfolio of assets. Do we have the right person in our midst who would know how to use those assets to benefit the region? Are you that person?

If appointed, you would have to run for election next year, and you would probably need to raise a minimum of $300,000 for your campaign. Port Commissioners have historically had a Seattle focus, and someone from Federal Way or South King County would have trouble winning a countywide election. But if someone from our area were running as an appointed incumbent, the chances of retaining the seat are very good.

Some regional insiders want a good candidate from the south part of the county to bring a true regional perspective. This opportunity is real for the right person.

The ideal candidate would be someone who is well known either politically or through being a business leader. Experience in running for office or holding an office would be helpful, but not critical. Candidates should have the ability to raise campaign money. Knowledge of the state and local economic system would be important, as would familiarity with the Port’s operations.

Are you still interested? If so, get your resume up to date.

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