NPI's Cascadia Advocate

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

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Sam Cho, Grant Degginger, Fred Felleman, Garth Jacobson advance in Seattle Port races

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.

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