By Assunta Ng
Twenty-nine applicants were interested in the vacant Port of Seattle Commissioner’s seat, vacated by Gael Tarleton, who had left to become a state representative for the 36th District.
Earlier this week, the then four current commissioners selected six finalists — all women. There are a few big names among the finalists.
The big names are Stephanie Bowman, executive director of Washington ABC and Courtney Gregoire, attorney with Worldwide Sales Group, Microsoft Corporation, and daughter of our former governor.
The other finalists include Claudia Kauffman, former State Senator of the 47th District and Intergovernmental Affairs Liaison for the Muckleshoot Tribe; Deborah K. Knutson, Principal of Knutson Strategies; Vicki Orrico, attorney, Principal, Orrico Consulting, and member of the Bellevue College Board of Trustees; and Nancy E. Wyatt, president and CEO of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce.
Only one of the finalists is a woman of color, former state senator Claudia Kauffman, who is Native American. If picked, Kauffman would be the first woman of color to have the seat. Whoever is selected, she’ll have to run for election to continue her job past Tarleton’s original finish date.
Males of color who have held the commissioner job include Lloyd Hara, current King County Assessor, and Rob Holland, an African American, who resigned only this Tuesday.
Jan Drago, an old pro in politics, is not among the finalists. Neither are Al Yuen and Patsy Tsui Bonincontri, who also applied. The current commissioners seem to think alike, giving younger women a chance for fresh perspectives on the port’s business and future.
Why do so many want the part-time job? The commissioner’s seat only pays roughly $6,000 a year. But it does have a lot of perks, including travel and meeting with important foreign and global business leaders. It also raises the profile and visibility of the commissioners. Don’t forget that it is a valuable stepping-stone for higher office. Look at where Hara and Tarleton are now.
With the resignation of Rob Holland, the other 28 unpicked applicants might come in handy. (end)