Tugs at the Port of Seattle

A few weeks ago, a total of ten can­di­dates filed to run for two posi­tions on the Seat­tle Port Com­mis­sion that must be filled this year. Of those ten, just four can­di­dates will advance onwards to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion, which is real­ly a runoff under the zany Top Two sys­tem that Wash­ing­ton State uses.

In ini­tial returns, King Coun­ty vot­ers were back­ing Sam Cho and Grant Deg­gin­ger for Posi­tion #2, along with Fred Felle­man and and Garth Jacob­son for Posi­tion #5. (Despite its name, the Port of Seat­tle’s juris­dic­tion extends far beyond the bor­ders of the City of Seat­tle; its bound­aries mir­ror that of King County.)

Incum­bent Felle­man, who is com­ing off a suc­cess­ful first term, looks like a lock for reelec­tion. He has 69.85% of the ear­ly vote and is enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly backed by the labor move­ment and the envi­ron­men­tal community.

Felle­man’s two chal­lengers have just 30% of the remain­ing vote. Garth Jacob­son attract­ed 21.66% sup­port and will face Felle­man in Novem­ber. Chal­lenger Jor­dan Lem­mon’s cam­paign is over. Lem­mon is receiv­ing just 7.69% of the vote.

For Posi­tion #2, which is an open seat cre­at­ed by the depar­ture of incum­bent Court­ney Gre­goire (and once held by NPI’s Gael Tar­leton), vot­ers were favor­ing Sam Cho and Grant Deg­gin­ger over five oth­er can­di­dates: Pret­ti Shrid­har, Kel­ly Charl­ton, NPI alum Dominic Bar­rera, Nina Mar­tinez, and Ali Scego.

Cho is an entre­pre­neur and for­mer ana­lyst for the Unit­ed States Depart­ment of State who also spent time work­ing for the fed­er­al Gen­er­al Ser­vices Admin­is­tra­tion and State Sen­a­tor Bob Hasegawa. His cam­paign was sup­port­ed by the King Coun­ty Labor Coun­cil, King Coun­ty Democ­rats, and the ILWU (which rep­re­sents mar­itime work­ers) as well as Hasegawa and State Sen­a­tor Joe Nguyen.

Cho’s cam­paign made effec­tive use of direct mail to con­nect with vot­ers, send­ing out a well timed piece empha­siz­ing his cre­den­tials and vision for the Port.

Cho cur­rent­ly has a plu­ral­i­ty of the vote (28.27%), with 69,673 votes cast in sup­port of his can­di­da­cy so far. He appears posi­tioned to move on.

In sec­ond place is for­mer Belle­vue City Coun­cilmem­ber Grant Deg­gin­ger, who has 25.97% of the vote (64,017 votes). Deg­gin­ger is a well known fig­ure on the East­side, owing to his ser­vice on the gov­ern­ing body of King Coun­ty’s sec­ond largest city. He served a stint as Chair of the Pub­lic Dis­clo­sure Com­mis­sion fol­low­ing his retire­ment from the Belle­vue City Council.

Now he’s look­ing to get back into pol­i­tics — this time as a port commissioner.

Deg­gin­ger says his pri­or­i­ties are con­tin­ued invest­ment in clean­er fuels, con­ver­sion of port vehi­cles and truck fleets, reduc­ing the wait times in the secu­ri­ty lines at SeaT­ac Inter­na­tion­al Air­port, and open, trans­par­ent, and account­able Port oper­a­tions, par­tic­u­lar­ly with respect to the cap­i­tal projects the Port has planned.

Cur­rent third place fin­ish­er Preeti Shrid­har — who has exten­sive expe­ri­ence work­ing with cities in King Coun­ty on envi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion ini­tia­tives — appears to have fall­en short of mak­ing the Novem­ber runoff.

Shrid­har was sup­port­ed in her cam­paign by The Urban­ist, Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers, OneAm­er­i­ca, State Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive My-Linh Thai, and NPI’s Gael Tarleton.

Shrid­har has 17.19% of the vote (42,377 votes) and is 21,640 votes behind Deg­gin­ger. That’s a deficit that will be dif­fi­cult to over­come in late ballots.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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