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Politics Northwest

The Seattle Times political team explores national, state and local politics.

March 5, 2013 at 7:00 AM

Port commission prepares to select a new member today

The Port of Seattle Commission will select a new member this afternoon from a field of finalists. The commission initially selected six finalists. Since then, one, Deborah Knutson, has withdrawn.

The meeting starts at 1 p.m.  and is broadcast live on the Port’s web site.

Five finalists for the seat met twice last week for two-hour public forums that touched on their character, their opinions about Port hot topics like Tacoma and the new Sodo Sonics arena, and how they would select a new Port CEO when Tay Yoshitani retires, as expected.

The two forums, which were video taped, were like long, intense job interviews. At one point at the end of the first meeting in downtown Seattle, candidate Vicki Orrico, a member of the Bellevue College  Board of Trustees, trailed off a little during an ethics question and then remarked: “Boy, I’m tired! This is really long.”  

Nancy Wyatt, the president of the Auburn Area Chamber of Commerce, lost her train of thought in the middle of an answer about Terminal 91. She tried once to regain it and then gave up.

“You know, it’s just one of those blanks,” she said.

Stephanie Bowman of Seattle, a former government-affairs manager for the Port of Tacoma, was happy to take over. Bowman ran an unsuccessful campaign for the state House of Representatives last year and seemed to be in campaign mode during the meeting.

When Orrico said the Port of Tacoma undercuts sea port prices because it “wants to be the Wal-Mart of ports,” during a question about regional cooperation at the second meeting, at Renton City Hall, Bowman took the opportunity to say that such name-calling “is the wrong way to go.”

The other two candidates for the job are Courtney Gregoire, the daughter of the former governor and an attorney for Microsoft, and former state Sen. Claudia Kauffman of Kent, a Native American and founder of the Native Action Network. 

The selection today will be followed by a similar process to fill a second vacancy left when Commissioner Rob Holland resigns later this month.

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