NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's uplifting perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, November 9th, 2011

For the first time in years, Port Commission will remain unchanged after an election

If last night’s ear­ly elec­tion returns are any indi­ca­tion, the five-mem­ber leg­isla­tive body that gov­erns the Port of Seat­tle is going to remain unchanged in the wake of this year’s elec­tion — the first time that has hap­pened in a long time.

Incum­bent Com­mis­sion­ers Bill Bryant and Gael Tar­leton, who each oust­ed incum­bents back in 2007, appear to be eas­i­ly cruis­ing to reelec­tion. Bryant holds a com­mand­ing lead over chal­lenger Dean Willard, while Tar­leton has a more mod­est (but still strong) lead over peren­ni­al office-seek­er Richard Pope.

(Full dis­clo­sure: I’m proud to acknowl­edge that Gael Tar­leton serves as pres­i­dent of NPI; she is one of the board­’s three officers.)

In the last few cycles, the Port Com­mis­sion has seen sig­nif­i­cant turnover. The longest-serv­ing com­mis­sion­er is now John Creighton, who has only served one and a half terms. Eight years ago, the Port Com­mis­sion con­sist­ed of Pat Davis, Bob Edwards, Paige Miller, Lawrence Mol­loy, and Clare Nordquist.

Nordquist was defeat­ed in 2003 by Alec Fisken, who was him­self defeat­ed by Bryant in 2007. Miller chose not to seek reelec­tion in 2005; she was suc­ceed­ed by Lloyd Hara, who left the com­mis­sion after one term to run for King Coun­ty Asses­sor. Hara’s spot on the com­mis­sion was tak­en by Rob Hol­land in 2009.

Mol­loy was defeat­ed in 2005 by Creighton, and Edwards was defeat­ed in 2007 by Tar­leton. Davis chose not to seek reelec­tion in 2009 after com­ing under fire for alleged mis­con­duct; her seat was filled by Tom Albro.

After near­ly half a dozen elec­tion cycles, it appears vot­ers have final­ly found a set of port com­mis­sion­ers that they like. Admit­ted­ly, Richard Pope did­n’t real­ly mount a seri­ous or cred­i­ble chal­lenge to Gael Tar­leton, but Bill Bryant did have an active and well-versed chal­lenger in Dean Willard.

The Port of Seat­tle has under­gone sig­nif­i­cant change over the last decade. Gone is Mic Dins­more, and gone are the lax ethics poli­cies that made the Port syn­ony­mous with crony­ism. Gone too are the com­mis­sion­ers who rub­ber stamped Dins­more’s every request, like Pat Davis. Since Dins­more’s depar­ture, the Port has become a much more respon­si­ble and trans­par­ent insti­tu­tion. It no longer gen­er­ates the kind of con­tro­ver­sial head­lines that it once did.

The Port still has room for improve­ment. In the years ahead, we’d like to see a greater empha­sis on envi­ron­men­tal and eco­nom­ic jus­tice, now that the Port has large­ly resolved its inter­nal difficulties.

We’d also like the Port to start doing a bet­ter job of com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the peo­ple of King Coun­ty. Many peo­ple are not aware of just how impor­tant the Port is to our local econ­o­my, let alone the fact that the Port of Seat­tle is actu­al­ly a coun­ty­wide jur­sid­c­tion. The Port needs to build stronger ties to the peo­ple it serves.

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One Ping

  1. Who knew that a port elec­tion could be his­toric by not result­ing in the ouster of incumbents? 

    Ping from Paul Andre :: December 3rd, 2011 at 10:23 PM
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