Courtney Gregoire is joining a Port of Seattle Commission facing political and competitive challenges against a backdrop of shifting leadership.
Gregoire, a lawyer and a daughter of the former governor, was selected Tuesday by a 4-0 vote.
One of her first acts after she takes the oath of office March 15 will be to help select yet another new member to fill a seat being vacated by Commissioner Rob Holland, who is resigning after revelations regarding personal and ethical lapses.
All but one of the five commissioners will be on the ballot this November, and Chief Executive Officer Tay Yoshitani’s contract is up in June 2014.
A resolution to raise commissioners’ annual salaries from $6,000 to more than $42,000 appeared Tuesday to be headed for passage. It passed on first reading 3-1, with Commissioner Bill Bryant opposing it. A higher salary could make this year’s Port commission races even more competitive.
Gregoire, 33, of Seattle, works as an attorney in Microsoft’s worldwide sales group. She was also deputy chief of staff to then-Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and legislative director to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell.
She was one of six finalists selected from a field of 29 who applied for the open seat. Commission President Tom Albro said she stood out for her “strategic understanding of the vision of the Port and our mission, and the things we have to do to create 100,000 jobs.”
In two public forums last week, Gregoire spoke often in terms of the commission’s Century Agenda, a 20-year plan to create 100,000 Port-related jobs. When other finalists spoke in specifics, she tended toward big-picture answers, offering a strategic view.
Gregoire will have to run in November to finish out the term of former Commissioner Gael Tarleton, and then run again in 2015. She said she intends to serve on the Port Commission long-term.
Her priorities will be to push for teamwork among commissioners, the Port of Tacoma, and the city and King County. With an arena planned for Sodo, which the Port opposed, Gregoire said the Port must push for transportation improvements.
“I think it’s time to think critically about what we need for freight mobility in this area,” she said.