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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

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Port of Seattle Commission president advises big pay raise to broaden candidate pool

Port of Seattle commissioners should make 7 times the salary they do now, according to Tom Albro, the president of the port commission. He wants commissioner pay to increase from $6,000 to $42,000 a year, comparable to the pay of Washington state legislators.

Albro’s rationale is that many qualified candidates for the port board might be unable to serve for financial reasons, although he said he would waive the raise himself. He said that while he realizes his stance might hurt his future election prospects, he thinks the candidate pool would widen with a living wage and the port would benefit.

“We intend our government to be a representative democracy ... For this to be true, average citizens must be reasonably able to serve in elected office,” he said. “But that is not the case when it comes to serving on the Port commission. The vast majority of us simply can’t afford to give away half our working hours, no matter how much we might be drawn to public service.”

Since four of the five Port commission seats are up for election in November, Albro said this is the time to increase the salary. Three of the commissioners must vote for the wage increase for it to pass.

Commissioner Bill Bryant said he probably wouldn’t support the raise, noting that many public servants don’t get paid.

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