It used to be that for down-ballot races, where voters are not well informed, choosing winners was greatly influenced by The Seattle Times or Municipal League evaluations. No longer, as witness the Port of Seattle races.
Incumbent Peter Steinbrueck, a former city councilmember and mayoral candidate with a storied family name, has drawn a strong challenger, Toshiko Hasegawa, daughter of state Sen. Bob Hasegawa. She will be running on equitable economic development, her record in pulling together groups, and her knowledge of Asian trade. Similarly, the current commission president, Stephanie Bowman, will be challenged by
Hamde Hamdi Mohamed, who has worked on social justice issues for Rep. Pramila Jayapal. She will be running on greater inclusion in the Port’s workforce and for more diverse airport businesses.
There are important economic issues at the Port, such as why the need for expansion of the container business when that container business is losing out to Canada, Eastern ports and Tacoma. And how to solve the shortage of return containers to Asia for Washington agriculture. But these races are now run as an aspect of DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion) politics, with voters more likely to vote for youth, green causes, and empowering minorities than rewarding incumbents for focusing on economic issues, the Port’s main business. (The same DEI dynamic holds true for the Seattle School Board, also on the ballot this fall.)
At any rate, during a time of economic stress, the three (of five) Port races are important contests.