Port of Seattle Commission, Position 4 – Toshiko Hasegawa

Municipal/Other Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Toshiko Hasegawa
  • Position Sought: Port of Seattle Commission, Pos 4 (Non-incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 11th LD
  • Democrat: Yes

Campaign Information

Part I – Candidate Background

1. Please briefly describe your qualifications, education, employment, community and civic activity, union affiliation, prior political activity, and other relevant experience.

I am a fourth-generation Japanese American and lifelong resident of Beacon Hill. The daughter of the labor movement, I was taught to fight for our rights and stand in solidarity with others to achieve our shared goals.
As President of the Japanese American Citizens League, I built intentional partnerships with community leaders, elected officials, and community groups to dismantle institutional oppression of vulnerable people. I am proud of my work engaging and serving diverse stakeholder groups.
My first point of entry into politics was as an immigration intern at the Office of US Senator Patty Murray. I built upon my experiences by working at the Office of State Senators Adam Kline and Jeanne Kohl Welles. I followed Jeanne to the King County Council and later served as the inaugural member of the newly established Office of Law Enforcement Oversight.
In 2018, I was appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to serve as the Executive Director of the Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs (CAPAA). I was proud to have been integrally involved in the creation and implementation of: relief grants to nonprofits and small businesses, the Washington State Language Access Plan, and strategies to address anti-asian hate crimes.

2. What prompted you to run for this office? What are your campaign’s most important themes, issues, or priorities (three to five)?

Covid-19 devastated our economy, with small businesses, especially those owned by people of color, left struggling or closing their doors permanently. Workers are without jobs, and families struggle day to day without stability. I’m running for the Port of Seattle in the midst of an economic crisis to ensure that we rebuild our economy to be better than it was before: that means centering the experience of people – individuals and families – who have been disproportionately impacted.
The Port is uniquely positioned to bring together stakeholders in industry, business, labor and community advocacy to be a model in how to advance our sustainability goals and build our economy. I believe economic empowerment leads to social justice, and clean ecosystems lead to healthy people. By investing in new technologies, I believe we can advance our sustainability goals, stimulate job growth and become more competitive in the global marketplace. In this way, my top two priorities are to build back the economy, and to reduce pollution. My third priority is an issue of safety at the port: that means ensuring workers have resources to stay protected at the workplace. It also means addressing the growing issue of labor trafficking and economic exploitation by promoting clean supply chains with all entities doing business through and at the port, and ensuring all actors can demonstrate a history of compliance with international labor laws.

I believe that we have the ingenuity and the resources to transform operations at the Port to achieve a more sustainable future. I’m running because I have the values and the experience to lead the Port as we chart a new path forward. And importantly, I bring the sense of urgency that the position demands and the public deserve. I was taught that we are all a part of something much greater than ourselves; and that’s why I’m running for Port: Because the Port connects all of us.

3. What steps are you taking to run a successful campaign?

I launched with $26,000 raised from individuals and will not be accepting any corporate PAC money. To date, one month after launch, I’ve raised over $45,000. I also launched with three dozen endorsements from elected leaders around the region and the list is growing (see website).
I’m talking with key stakeholders representing the maritime and aviation industries, small, minority and women-owned businesses, labor, environmental groups, youth, and communities to ensure a meaningful engagement with the electorate. I am also making may way around the LD’s. I’ve activated an amazing campaign team that understands the importance of me telling my story authentically as a woman of color and a first time candidate.
Formal candidate trainings I’ve received include most recently the Washington State Labor Council’s 2021 Path to Power political candidate training as a Port Commission candidate. I am also a graduate of Emerge Washington’s 2020 Lisa Brown Cohort and the 2016 Progressive Majority Candidate training. I also attended Asian Pacific Institute for Congressional Studies political candidate training in Washington, D.C.in 2015.
Personally speaking, I grew up in a political family: my father first ran for and won elected office as Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 174 when I was just four years old. I know first hand the mental, emotional or physical fortitude required – not only of the candidate – but of their family. Professionally speaking, my first political gig was in 2012 working as Campaign Manager for my father’s campaign when he transitioned from the House to the Senate. This role required that I attend a campaign manager training held by the SDCC. In 2014, I served as Representative Sharon Tomiko Santos’ campaign manager. I’ve also volunteered for a number of campaigns as a Steering Committee member.
I’m proud of my professional and volunteer experiences that prepare me to run a successful campaign today. Through my experiences, training, and community-building, I am a very viable candidate who knows what it takes to run and win a successful campaign for election. I understand the landscape of what it takes to earn support from influential entities including labor, Community-based organizations, democratic organizations, and grass roots community groups.

Part II – Local Issues

1. Would you support the establishment of a safe injection site in your district?


I served as legislative assistant to Metropolitan King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles who was chair of the Council’s Health, Housing & Human Services Committee when CHEL sites were first established. Addiction is a mental health issue and people deserve support and safety as they work through their illness.

2. Would you support the administration and police force in your jurisdiction adopting a sanctuary policy, forbidding the sharing of local resources and labor with ICE?


Yes, and we must make sure that violators of these orders are held accountable when infractions occur.

3. Do you support raising revenue at the city level to expand transit service?


Many people, particularly low income, BIPOC, immigrant & refugee community members depend upon public transit to get around. Public transit is critical in supporting community mobility and access to jobs.
The Port of Seattle is a countywide position and I’d love to see it leverage its power and influence to advocate in support of the construction of high speed rail that can connect our region, reduce air traffic by reducing short-trip flights, address issues of congestion around the Port, reduce carbon emissions, and transport cargo faster.

4. Should transportation policy discourage the use of private automobiles and encourage the use of public-transit?


5. Do you support building a municipally owned and operated broadband system in your city or jurisdiction?


6. Do you support requiring police officers in your jurisdiction to wear body cameras?


7. Do you support repealing Tim Eyman’s I-747, which artificially limits property tax increases to 1% per year, regardless of population growth, inflation, and need?


8. Should government assist individuals, and families who are without sufficient food, shelter, or basic necessities through no fault of their own?


9. Should the wages paid to workers in Washington State be raised incrementally towards the goal of living wages?


10. Will you seek opportunities to mitigate the human activities that are contributing to disastrous climate change?


Part III – Free Response

1. Why are you requesting Democratic endorsement? What aspects of the Democratic platform most resonate with you?

I am a lifelong Democrat who votes blue down the ballot and is passionate about building the party to be as strong as possible. I’m a member of the 11th LD Dems, where I served for a time as 2nd Vice Chair, an e-board member, and PCO for precinct #11-1942. As a woman of color, I was passionate about making the 11th LD a more welcoming space for young people and BIPOC, and personally doorbelled my district to recruit 32 new PCO’s. I also hosted a series of PCO trainings in collaboration with the Washington State Democrats. I met my husband in the Carpenters Hall at an 11th LD Endorsement meeting. He was a 37th LD E-Board member and we eventually collaborated on efforts to create community between the LD’s, including in a PCO recruitment event at the Berliner and subsequent Election night parties. Now that we’re married he’s a member of the 11th LD where he ran for PCO and lost (haha).
As a daughter of the labor movement the aspect of democratic platform are supporting labor as the backbone of America. I know that economic empowerment will lead to social justice of our communities. Covid-19 demonstrated the importance of labor unions for working families. I believe we need to do as much as we can – particularly in the wake of the Trump administration – to strengthen unions across America, including right here at home.

2. What important local issues have you worked on (or taken an interest in) that you feel aren’t getting enough attention from elected leaders and the media?

Generally, the Port of Seattle gets little to no coverage from the media. The Port of Seattle is one of the largest regional employers, balances a multi-billion dollar budget, and oversees international imports and exports. It is also the largest polluter of carbon emissions in Puget Sound. Additionally, its elected commissioners have gone unquestioned and unchallenged by the media and public at-large. Through my candidacy, I’m excited to raise the profile of the Port of Seattle.
Although the media doesn’t cover the Port, that doesn’t mean it’s unnoticed by the community. Members of the public have long complained of noise pollution, disparate health outcomes for Duwamish River neighborhoods, the endangerment of our waterways and wildlife, employment challenges for workers and contract issues for disadvantaged business enterprises.
The Port in 2020 convened a workgroup to address issues of police accountability and will soon release a report with recommendations to improve police services and accountability – but this effort went wholly unreported to the public at large. Groups representing communities of color and families impacted by police violence had little to no knowledge of this important work.

3. Please list up to three specific, concrete actions you would support to ease the homelessness crisis.

Priority one is buildling back our economy, which means creating jobs. In the wake of Covid-19, families are paycheck to paycheck if not unemployed altogether; if the eviction moratorium lifts, we will have a homelessness crisis unlike any we’ve ever seen. To me, charting a path forward means creating opportunities for workers to get jobs, so families can achieve the economic stability they deserve.

Additionally, the Port owns a ton of vacant land near where the jobs are. Instead of selling it off to private developers for a quick buck, the Port should instead develop public affordable housing for workers to live close to where the jobs are at. These projects would create construction jobs, address congestion issues in the five miles in and out of the Port where traffic gets most dense, and would address the housing needs of the growing population of working class families that call the PNW home.

4. What are the barriers to economic prosperity faced by residents in your jurisdiction, and how do you plan to address them?

There are access barriers for people from historically marginalized communities to learn of or achieve opportunities at the Port. This includes workers who are BIPOC, undocux, immigrants, refugees, english language learners, women. ACDBE’s and MWBE’s also have trouble contending for contract opportunities at the Port. Covid has only exacerbated the problem. As Port Commissioner, I will have the immediate and urgent task of responding to massive unemployment rates at the airport, supporting struggling small businesses on the brink of bankruptcy, and sustaining aviation and maritime industry operations. It’s imperative the Commission ensures that those who are most impacted are given a place at the table to voice their needs – that means labor unions, businesses, industry representatives, airport cities and neighborhoods, and tribes. I will do everything in my power to promote capital projects that will provide working families employment opportunities and invest in those who’ve been hit hardest by the pandemic. Our long-term recovery plan must center the experience of people. That’s why in all matters, I will ask, “how will this impact jobs”, and “how will this impact workers?”

5. What are the transportation/transit challenges which face this jurisdiction and how would you address them? What role does rail play in your proposed solutions?

The five miles in and out of the Port are terrible for commuters, travelers, residents and workers alike. We need to maintain the integrity of buffer zones so that the industrial areas can continue to flow. We can optimize operations so loading and unloading cargo can happen as efficiently as possible, to reduce the wait and idle time of trucks. And, we can leverage limited investments alongside other jurisdictions (the county, state, feds) to invest in big-picture infrastructure projects like high speed rail. In addition to addressing issues of congestion and mobility, high speed rail also helps us to advance our regional sustainability goals.

6. What are your jurisdiction’s environmental issues, which ones are urgent and what will you do to address them?

The Port is the largest carbon polluter in the state and has a vital role to play in changing the trajectory of our future. We need to take bold steps NOW to make a meaningful difference. Excitingly, I believe this can be achieved while simultaneously achieving job growth and stimulating our economy!
First, we must make meaningful investments to achieve an inclusive blue maritime economy so we can more quickly move away from carbon-based fuels. In addition to high speed rail rail to reduce contamination from airplanes making frequent short trips around the region, we can invest in offshore wind farms, which will generate enough power to sustain our onshore and offshore operations. Clark County has off-shore wind farms and has reported great success. All of these large scale programs will create good paying jobs through their construction, maintenance and operations.
We should also not expand the cruise industry. With Terminal 46 on hold, we should convert that project towards being an electrical outlet where big ships can plug in. Ports in Prince Rupert, LA and Long Beach in California are already electric. Electrifying our Port will promote our capacity to keep step with our growing import and export economy and appeal to those who prefer electric-friendly routes.
I also believe the Port can and should launch smaller scale projects to reduce carbon emissions, such as establishing a Clean Boats Program to subsidize the cost for commercial fisherman to convert from diesel to electric motors. We can also say NO to selling Port property to developers, and instead build workforce housing for workers to live close to where they work, reducing transportation emissions and congestion. It also answers to our growing population trends.

7. Does your district have a taxing authority or propose levies and what changes, if any, would you seek?

Yes, the Port levies a Property tax. We need to subvert the Eyman 1% cap and make that part of the Port’s legsilative agenda to the state legislature.

By typing my name below, I declare under penalty of perjury the foregoing is true and correct.

Printed Name: Toshiko Hasegawa

Date: 04/08/2021

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