Courtney Gregoire should be elected to another term as a commissioner of the Port of Seattle.

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COMPETING for business against larger ports along the West Coast is just one challenge for the Port of Seattle.

After its lightning-rod decision to let Shell temporarily berth its Arctic vessels at a vacant terminal, the Port finds itself in the crosshairs of environmental activists and some Seattle leaders who are questioning the Port’s mission and coveting its waterfront property.

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Courtney Gregoire

Courtney Gregoire

Seattle Port Commissioner Position No. 2

Strengths: Effective and pragmatic overseer

Gregoire is the daughter of a former governor, but she has built an impressive career of her own. Since joining the Port Commission in 2013, Gregoire has been an effective and pragmatic overseer. ..."

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Simultaneously, the Port’s plan to upgrade Sea-Tac’s international arrival facility has mushroomed into a $600 million megaproject and pitted its biggest airline tenants against each other.

Strong and capable leaders are needed to guide the Port through these storms and ensure its continued support of industries that are a cornerstone of the region’s economy and a crucial source of middle-class jobs.

In the race for Position No. 2 on the Port Commission, the clear choice is Courtney Gregoire, a former federal trade official now employed as a senior attorney at Microsoft.

Gregoire is the daughter of a former governor, but she has built an impressive career of her own. Since joining the Port Commission in 2013, Gregoire has been an effective and pragmatic overseer.

During her term, the Port agreed to a historic partnership with the Port of Tacoma, creating a regional alliance to better compete for shipping business. Gregoire said the collaboration was necessary, but more work is needed to sort out arrangements.

In addition to advocating for the Port’s economic-development role, Gregoire has pushed to improve its environmental standing.

But Gregoire’s advocacy in this regard went too far when she opposed the Shell lease out of concern that the Obama administration — her former employer — had authorized exploratory, offshore Arctic drilling. Gregoire defended her stance, saying the Shell situation was exceptional. But the Port must remain a neutral platform and not a means to protest federal policy.

Gregoire pledged to seek more transparency and accountability from Port staff. In retrospect, the Port shouldn’t have agreed to keep the Shell lease details secret for so long, she said.

Evidence that she and other commissioners have taken this to heart has come this year during the flap over the international facility at Sea-Tac. After Alaska Airlines and others protested that the proposal would overly tax domestic flights and its design would favor Delta Air Lines, the Port paused the project to consider feedback and how to proceed.

Gregoire said further improvement in process and accountability should come now that the Port has hired a chief of staff to independently support commissioners.

Challengers are perennial candidate Goodspaceguy and John Naubert, a self-described communist who said he would not support the Port’s role as an engine of the capitalist system. Gregoire is the best candidate.