By Nick Turner
Yet another round of debate was held last week at the Nagomi Tea House to give candidates in Seattle’s upcoming November 7 elections a chance to address the issues and concerns of Asian Pacific Islanders and residents of the Chinatown ID. Several candidates, which included those running for mayor, City Council and the Port of Seattle Commission, spoke to the importance of diversity and small business that can be found in the C-ID, while others addressed housing affordability, homelessness, police reform and other issues that continue to affect Seattle.
The Port of Seattle Commission—a body of five elected officials responsible for establishing port policy—will have three open seats come the November election. In the race for Port Commissioner Position 1, Peter Steinbruek, former Seattle city councilmember, is up against Preeti Shridhard, a seasoned public servant who used to work in the Mayor’s Office of Sustainability and Environment. Steinbruek promised to fight for sustainability and government transparency while Shridhard focused on job creation and community growth. Both candidates have been endorsed by a host of activists, experts and elected officials.
For Position 3, Ryan Calkins is running against the incumbent John Creighton. Despite having over tens of experience running an important company, and working directly with shipping operations at the port, Calkins finds himself in an uphill battle against Creighton who, for the last eight years, served on the Port of Seattle Commission and narrowly won the August primary by just a few percentage points.
Ahmed Abdi and Stephanie Bowman are up against each other for Port of Seattle Commission Position 4. Bowman, the incumbent, claims the advantage after leading the primary with more than half of the votes, while Abdi came in with just over 30 percent.
The mayoral race remains in the spotlight after an exciting primary followed by a series of scandals that led to the resignation of former mayor Ed Murray. The new mayor will be elected in November, but in the meantime city councilmember Tim Burgess will temporarily serve as the city’s chief executive. Come November 8, Cary Moon or Jenny Durkan will claim that seat. The race is coming to a point as the deadline looms on the horizon. Pointed remarks were exchanged as the two candidates discussed past achievements, job qualifications and how they intend to tackle the city’s problems.
Pat Murakami and incumbent Lorena Gonzales vied for Position 9 on the Seattle City Council. While the debate was lively, the result seems all but predictable with Gonzales commanding a 64 percent majority of the votes while Murakami won less than 20 percent.
Teresa Mosqueda and Jon Grant are both strong contenders for Position 8 on the City Council. Grant, a housing advocate and former director of the Tenants Union, promises to fight for a 25 percent affordability mandate on new housing, police accountability and gender pay equity, among other things. Mosqueda echoed similar intentions but surprised the crowd with a stirring rebuttal to a statement on the importance of representation:
“It’s important for those of us who have the lived experience to be directing policy change. The concept of fighting for justice isn’t something that we wake up and decide to do one day, it’s a matter of survival. It’s not a choice, it’s not an option, and thinking about true representative democracy, and electing those who are from our community, is not about just a theory of change, it’s about creating true representation,” Mosqueda said. “We want to take back that voice and make decisions on our own that are directed by our community, that are rooted in fundamental, radical change so that we can push for the housing, the childcare, the economic justice, retirement security and true equity that our community needs.”