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Setting Expectations to Build Back Better

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Feb 26, 2021

I want to share my comments from the Port of Seattle’s first Town Hall of 2021. First, I’d like to acknowledge that this meeting was being held on the ancestral lands and waters of the Coast Salish people with whom we share a commitment to steward these natural resources for future generations.

We also celebrate February as Black History Month and need to work to assure that the considerable contributions of Black Americans to both our nation’s history and future are recognized throughout the year.

At our first group gathering, I recognized all the Port’s hard-working staff over a difficult year. Although this year is looking brighter than 2020, we’re still far from where we need to be, both economically and socially.

Another priority for this year is to bring the Commission and Executive teams into alignment around recovery. It’s interesting to note that five Commissioners come from different backgrounds, yet they share many of the same values and goals which are also aligned with those of Port Executive Director Steve Metruck.

I think that the primary job of the Port is to help this region build back better. That’s more than just being a source of broad economic stimulus, it also requires us to actively work to create opportunities across the economy which means reaching communities that have been traditionally overlooked

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt and respond to huge impacts across all our lines of business. The nature of work has been transformed for everyone from those on front lines to the front desk and the front porch — it’s been stressful for all of us, but the resilience of the Port’s staff is noticed and greatly appreciated.

It’s a real testament to the capabilities of the people in this organization that we could pivot so quickly to these new realities. It’s also a testament to the leadership of our Executive Director, Steve Metruck.

I met Executive Director Metruck over a decade ago when he served as the Coast Guard Captain of the Port for Sector Seattle and while I was advocating for maritime safety.

Town Halls like this reflect Steve’s desire to communicate directly with staff. His judgment, moral character, and steady hand made renewing his contract for another three years a very easy decision. However, for us to achieve our shared goals, we need to do well in order to do good. That means continuing a strong capital improvement plan, which pumps money directly into our economy and keeps our maritime and aviation gateways running strong.

We’re also expanding the strength and resilience of our region’s economy by stepping up our engagement with communities through efforts like the South King County Fund and internships to address equity, diversity, and inclusion. And we continue to work to reduce our impact on the climate while incorporating the restoration and protection of the air, land, and waters we all share.

This is going to be another challenging year, but the Port has an ambitious agenda that’s needed more than ever. And our success needs to be measured by how well we contribute to the region’s economic, social and environmental prosperity.

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