GSBA has several members on the ballot this year. GSBA does not endorse candidates for elected office, but we are pleased to offer them a chance to speak to their fellow members.
With just two weeks remaining before the August primary election, most people are busy with summer activities and don't have much time to consider local races. In particular, the Port of Seattle Commission races--three of the five seats are up this cycle--rank low on voters' priority list. I want to make a case for why the Port races deserve your attention. The Commission plays a critical role in Seattle's economy both in terms of the direct impact of nearly $1 billion dollars in annual revenue, and also in terms of the indirect benefits of a vibrant airport, healthy seaport, and booming tourism industry.
The Port is at an important crossroads. With the departure of its CEO earlier this year, the search is on for a new executive. And the incoming Port Commission has a responsibility to ensure that problems of the past (ethical transgressions, wrongful termination lawsuits, opaque contracting decisions) do not continue under new leadership. The Port of Seattle is a public agency, which requires a higher level of transparency and ethical standards than private enterprise.
At a time when the federal government is going backward on accessibility and inclusion, it's even more important for the Port of Seattle to be a safe and inclusive space. SeaTac airport is our region's front porch, and people of every race, nationality, ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation must feel welcomed. As the regional nexus of immigration, SeaTac should be a sanctuary for immigrants and refugees, rather than one more obstacle to safety for those fleeing persecution, war, and famine.
Finally, the Port of Seattle should be a key driver of small business development in the Greater Seattle area. With hundreds of retail opportunities, ongoing large-scale construction projects, and resources to support the training of the next generation of business leaders, the Port of Seattle has an obligation to ensure that the LGBTQ community has at least proportional representation in contracting and hiring. As a small business owner in the Georgetown neighborhood, I understand the challenges of securing work with large government agencies. The Port needs to expand its efforts to make sure that contracts are awarded to local small businesses, not just large, out-of-state conglomerates.
As the recipient of more than $70 million dollars in property tax funds each year, the Port needs ethical and experienced leadership. During this election cycle, we have the opportunity to elect a commission with the integrity and background to carry the Port into the next generation.
Ryan Calkins is a small business owner, GSBA member, and candidate for Position 1 of the Port of Seattle Commission. Learn more at www.ryanforport.com.