Stephanie Bowman is seeking a third term on the Seattle Port Commission. Bowman is executive director of Washington ABC, a nonprofit focused on asset building through investments in education, homeownership, savings, and small business development. Before joining the Seattle Port Commission, she worked at the Port of Tacoma in Federal Government Relations. She has a MBA from Seattle University and lives in Beacon Hill. Check out Bowman’s campaign website for more information.
The Urbanist Election Committee followed up on our questionnaires with Zoom interviews to fill in the gaps. We released our Primary Endorsements in late June. Since just two candidates are vying for this Port seat, both automatically advance to the general election and the race isn’t on the primary ballot. Primary ballots should have arrived in your mailbox and must be postmarked August 3rd. No stamp needed, as postage is included. For voter information or to register to vote, visit the State election website.
Below are Stephanie Bowman’s questionnaire responses.
The Port itself is set to meet its carbon reduction targets earlier than anticipated, but the region as a whole is stagnating. How can the Port do more to address stagnating emissions levels around the region?
I’m proud of my public service on the Port Commission that has prioritized carbon reduction and is set to meet our goals ahead of schedule through investments such as bringing shore power to our marine terminals, heating more than 50% of SeaTac Airport using renewable natural gas, and sponsoring carbon sequestration projects on the waterfront. But I’m not stopping there. As the Co-Chair of the Port’s Energy and Sustainability Committee, I have a three-pronged approached to reducing our carbon footprint: 1) through energy efficiency projects at all Port facilities ranging from the airport to Fisherman’s Terminal; 2) through carbon reduction, such as the use of electric ground equipment at SeaTac (ex: airplane tugs) and the seaport (ex: electric drayage trucks), and 3) innovations in carbon sequestration, such as our “Blue Carbon” projects in Elliott Bay using marine grasses to filter carbon AND provide marine habitat. Finally, I believe we all have a responsibility to clean up the Duwamish, Seattle’s only river, and protect the lands we have the honor of living on now. The Port’s investments in reducing emissions and cleaning up our air and water can be a roadmap for other public agencies looking to reduce their environmental impact.
What strategies would you push at the Port of Seattle to develop more alternatives to single-occupancy vehicle trips for Port employees and visitors?
As a lifelong user and public promoter of transit (I bought my home 10 years ago solely because of its future adjacency to light rail), I brought these values to the Port Commission and began working immediately to reduce single-occupancy trips to and from SeaTac Airport, since it’s the largest generator of vehicle traffic of any Port facility. First on the list for me was and is increasing the use of transit to SeaTac by both workers and passengers, such as working with Metro to expand bus service, and bringing golf carts to shuttle passengers from the light rail station to the terminal, free of charge, to make it easier for those with mobility issues or extra bags to take Sound Transit to SeaTac. Additionally, I led the effort to require ride-share companies (Uber / Lyft) to meet emission and trip reduction goals, the first airport in the country to have these standards. As we come out of the pandemic and air travel begins to resume, I’m looking at new technologies in car-share services, baggage pre-check. and automatous, connected vehicles that hold promise for reducing single trips to SeaTac and the emissions generated by them.
The Port Commission backed a low carbon fuel standard at the state legislature this session. What statewide policy priorities will you focus on?
My focus as a Port Commissioner has always been on bringing about systemic change in order to achieve lasting impact. I’m proud to be part of the Commission that made passage of a low-carbon fuel standard our top legislative priority for the last four years, as this standard is essential to creating a market for Sustainable Aviation Fuels (SAF) at SeaTac. The next critical step is to develop statewide incentives for producing SAF in-state, so that we achieve the real reduction in our carbon footprint that we all seek; I’m already working with other policy makers on this. A second statewide priority for me is bringing electric drayage trucks to the seaport, through a combination of in-state production and a long-term loan pool to make these trucks affordable to drivers, the majority of whom are immigrant and refugees. A third statewide priority is a developing a coordinated, statewide strategy for use of and investment in the more than 200 airports in Washington. We have an opportunity to reduce carbon emissions and better utilize these public assets, taking into account the technological advances such as short-haul electric flights. But to be successful we need a statewide strategy, not bifurcated local efforts.
The development of a portion of Terminal 46 as a new cruise ship terminal has been put on hold by the current Commission. Do you support this project and are there any conditions that would cause you to change your answer?
The pandemic upended the cruise industry worldwide, but especially in Alaska, which has been dependent on cruise business to support their local economies. I believe the people of Alaska need to decide the future of cruise in their communities. This will then determine whether – and where – a market exists for new terminals, particularly those which might require public investments. It is entirely too early to determine that now.
What is your position on the issue of a second regional airport in the Puget Sound region?
I believe we need to better utilize our more than 200 airports in Washington and create a system of smaller regional airports, similar to California. I have long advocated that we should have at least a regional, if not statewide airport authority to guide these public investments. SeaTac will always play a significant role in our state’s air travel system because of its international flights. But smaller airports could be used to better connect domestic-only travel, but only if the effort is coordinated.
People living in airport and industrial communities have some of the most negative health outcomes in the region. What role do you see the Port of Seattle playing in rectifying this?
I believe the Port has an obligation to be a leader and champion for the residents and communities impacted by the operations of Port tenants. I’m proud of the partnerships I’ve created to address community impacts from these activities, from working to create a “Clean Truck Fund” for truck drivers purchase newer trucks with less emissions, to accelerating the noise insulation projects near the airport, to providing electrification for airlines to plug in while at the gate in order to reduce air emissions impacting runway workers and near-airport residents. While the Port does not have regulatory authority, it can use the power of its leases with tenants to get better environmental outcomes for the community (such as requiring shipping vessels to use shorepower at T-5). Yet I also think it’s critical we recognize that every person and business who benefits from using the airport or seaport should also contribute to reducing the impacts on the quality of life of near-Port residents. Activities at any Port happen because of consumer demand. The Port should use its operational expertise to identify and pursue strategies to improve near-community health, but it’s impossible for any single entity to solve these problems alone.
What do you see as the Port of Seattle’s role in reducing sprawl in the region?
Sprawl is caused by people not living in urban areas. The current “downtown Seattle exodus” is due to public safety concerns and the extraordinary cost of living in Seattle. Regarding the first issue, I serve as the Port’s representative on the Downtown Revitalization Committee, because I personally want to help and use the Port’s resources to save our small local businesses by re-activating the downtown core and increase street safety. Regarding the high cost of living: one of the Port’s primary roles is to provide the infrastructure that creates quality family-wage jobs. I have always been committed to using the Port’s resources to maintain a wide variety of jobs in Seattle and throughput the region, jobs that allow people of all backgrounds and education to live and thrive in the city. Doing this is the one the best ways I can think of to reduce sprawl and make Seattle a vibrant, inclusive city.
What do you think the City of Seattle’s industrial lands taskforce should focus on?
The taskforce was established to determine ways to protect and support the maritime sectors within the City of Seattle. I support this.
What role do you see for the Port of Seattle when discussing the future of Interbay’s armory?
All adjacent landowners to the Armory, including but not limited to the Port of Seattle, should weigh in when discussing future uses of the site. A change in land use will affect transportation, mobility, urban design and streetscapes. Decisions about the future use of public assets must be made with community input, not in a vacuum.
The Urbanist was founded in 2014 to examine and influence urban policies. We believe cities provide unique opportunities for addressing many of the most challenging social, environmental, and economic problems. We serve as a resource for promoting urbanism, increasing political participation, and improving the places we live. The Elections Committee consists of various staff members of The Urbanist and is a standing body representing the political values of our organization.