Port of Seattle Commission President Tom Albro announced today his proposal to give port commissioners a $35,000 raise — from $6,000 a year to the annual salary paid to state legislators, a little more than $42,000 a year.
Just to show he’s not trying to get rich, Albro said he will waive the salary for himself, and he is proposing it right before he has to face re-election, possibly attracting more viable candidates to his own race. He said he knows the issue of giving his own commission a huge raise is politically dicey, but sees it as “for the public good.”
As it stands, the only people able to serve on the Port Commission are those who don’t have to work full-time to pay the bills, Albro said at today’s Port Commission meeting at Pier 69.
“We intend our government to be a representative democracy — that is of the people, by the people, and for the people. For this to be true, average citizens must be reasonably able to serve in elected office. But that is not the case when it comes to serving on the Port Commission. The vast majority of us simply can’t afford to give away half our working hours, no matter how much we might be drawn to public service,” he said.
Commissioner Rob Holland, who is resigning next month, has struggled throughout his term to hold down a job and got in trouble for using his Port credit card for personal expenses to help make ends meet.
Holland will have a chance to vote on the commissioners’ raise if Albro sticks to his schedule: he’ll introduce his resolution March 5 for a final vote March 12. Holland’s resignation is effective March 15. Three commissioners must vote for a pay raise for it to pass.
Commissioner Bill Bryant said he isn’t likely to support the legislation. Plenty of public servants don’t get paid, he said.
“Democracy is not a spectator sport. It requires us to get involved,” he said. “I’m spending my time working on issues that generate jobs, not giving myself a raise.