Port of Seattle Commission, Position 3 – Hamdi Mohamed

Municipal/Other Questionnaire

Candidate Information

  • Candidate Name: Hamdi Mohamed
  • Position Sought: Port of Seattle Commission, Position 3 (Non-incumbent)
  • Home Legislative District: 33rd
  • 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.

In my current capacity as a policy advisor for King County, I advise and implement the county immigration ordinances and work with the legal team. I provide advisory and monitoring support to the $12 billion county budget to ensure it reduces disparities and advances equity. In 2020, I led an initiative to invest $1.5 million in a new market and cooperative housing development in Tukwila. I also managed the $3 million COVID-19 Community Response Fund that went directly to community-based organizations working with frontline workers. To promote coronavirus testing in King County, I led an effort for King County Public Health to partner with national leaders to provide two days of free COVID-19 testing, as well as free face coverings and care packages, to over 3,500 individuals and families. In addition, I successfully secured a sponsorship for 14,000 pounds of essential supplies, including personal protective equipment for community health clinics and frontline workers, at no cost to them. Our efforts were recognized by Governor Jay Inslee, Congressman Adam Smith, and King County health leaders.

Prior to serving King County, I was deputy district director for U.S. Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. In this role, I advocated for federal workers impacted by the partial government shutdown in 2019. I stood with them in the streets and utilized our constituent services to help them receive the entitled unemployment benefits. I helped hundreds of small and medium-sized businesses —software companies, stores, restaurants, non-profit organizations—navigate the impacts of new public policies. By facilitating disputes with federal agencies in matters like visa, tax, shipment, and contractual issues, we helped keep businesses running and growing.

I am also proud to have worked for One America, CARE International, AmeriCorps, and the Refugee Women Alliance in roles dedicated to fighting poverty. With over a decade of experience and a Law, Societies, and Justice degree from the University of Washington, I have spent my career tackling policy issues at the local and federal levels. I am ready to address our community’s most pressing issues at the Port.

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

The lack of regional representation at the Port of Seattle and the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities in King County prompted me to run for this office. When elected, I will become the first Port Commissioner from South King County that is significantly impacted by Port operations. Now more than ever we need strong regional leadership on the Port of Seattle Commission.

I am prepared to address some of the Port’s most pressing issues, such as climate change, bringing back jobs to our region, reforming the harbor maintenance tax, and supporting services for maritime transport and accessibility. As Port Commissioner, I will advocate for infrastructure investments, surrounding terminals to promote freight mobility and accessibility. I will expand infrastructure investments directly to the terminals with a focus on prioritizing community workforce agreements, maintaining a robust workforce on our docks, and family-wage jobs that protect the right to organize.

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

So far, our campaign has been off to a great start. We have raised nearly $50,000 since our launch, and have secured endorsements from nearly thirty elected officials including Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, King County Executive Dow Constantine, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, and Congressman Adam Smith. Our campaign has been intentional about ensuring accessibility and transparency of information. We are one of the first campaigns to launch with over ten languages, including ASL and D/HOH.

We plan to win by centering the needs of our communities and bringing their voice to the table. In April, we will be holding a listening tour featuring elected officials, community members, and organizations to center King County’s most pressing needs. Our topics include but are not limited to aviation, environment, maritime, artisan trades, and region-centered sessions.

Our campaign’s combination of prioritizing our constituents’ needs and efforts to increase accessibility will help us bring a unique voice to the Port of Seattle Commission.

With a strong fieldwork team, we will communicate with as many constituents as possible to relay the campaign’s vision and hear about their most pressing needs. Truly listening to all of our communities is of the utmost importance for me. I will ensure we provide mailers and other reading materials in various languages to tap into our diverse voter population.

Part II – Local Issues

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


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?


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


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 have been a lifelong Democrat and have worked within the Democratic party on the local, state, and federal levels. Formally, I served as the at-large south King County director for the King County Young Democrats. During the 2020 presidential election, I served as the King County organizing director for the Biden-Harris campaign, where I hosted weekly phone banks that were making 10,000 calls per hour to voters all over the country. Further, I served as Congresswoman Jayapal’s 2018 campaign manager and a senior advisor for three years. In these capacities, I managed a million-dollar budget, oversaw campaign staff, trained hundreds of volunteers, and designed and implemented campaign strategies. For the last several months, I have served as the secretary for the King County Democrats, ensuring that our records are accessible, secure, and complete – I did step aside to avoid any conflict of interest with my race for the Seattle Port Commission.

I am seeking Democratic endorsement because I want to continue advancing the Democratic Party’s values in supporting working families and economic recovery. The two facets of the Democratic platform that most resonate with me in the context of the Port Commission are economic opportunity and social and civil justice. I will play an active role in advancing each of these priorities within the scope of the Port Commission.

In terms of economic opportunity, the Port is uniquely positioned to be a driver of regional economic recovery from COVID-19. It is integral that the Port leverage its immense economic power to propel our region forward. As Port Commissioner, I will prioritize continued investment in capital investment projects and maritime infrastructure, such as the Terminal 5 modernization project, that create family-wage jobs and propel our Port’s competitiveness. Making robust and immediate investments in projects that both support environmental and economic goals is an essential role for the Port to play in our recovery.

Social and civil justice have been the primary motivators behind my work in public service throughout my career. I immigrated to the United States when I was three years old with my family after the outbreak of a civil war in Somalia. I have spent much of my career advocating for immigrant and civil rights in nonprofits, the U.S. House of Representatives, and King County. I have seen firsthand how BIPOC, undocumented, immigrant, and low-income workers are exploited and harmed by our broken systems and how many cannot equally access social safety net programs. Ensuring equitable access to government programs is integral to our recovery from COVID-19. The Port must hold itself to the highest standards of inclusion and diversity so that it can use its jurisdictional capacity to continue to protect our communities against discriminatory policies.

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?

The hemorrhaging of women from the workforce as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is an issue that deserves more attention from media and elected officials. Women in King County have filed 51% of jobless claims, but we only make up 46% of the regional workforce. Many women have left their careers to care for children who are unable to be in school. The industries that are primarily comprised of women have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. Before the pandemic, a woman in Washington state made 75.4 cents to each dollar that a man-made. Even though King County had some of the highest rates of women participating in the workforce, we were among the country’s lowest areas for pay equality. The dual realities of pay inequality and job loss are even starker for women of color and women without college degrees.

The issue is deeply intersectional with immigrant communities, particularly for female entrepreneurs. In the City of SeaTac, over 40 businesses owned by immigrants were displaced due to a property sale. The sale deeply impacted the women-owned businesses, so in 2020 I led an initiative to help the county invest $1.5 million in a new market and cooperative housing development in Tukwila to give new opportunities to many of the women displaced. Through our economic development strategy in 2020, I assisted in securing $300,000 for small businesses that were impacted by COVID-19 through the King County Communities of Opportunity Grant partnership. Outside of work, I have helped many of our small businesses apply for grants and loans like the Working Washington Small Business Emergency Grants so that they can keep their doors open.

As Port Commissioner, my priority will be a just economic recovery from COVID-19 that uplifts the communities most impacted by the pandemic. Amid this “she-cession,” elected officials must act immediately to preserve the decades of progress that have promoted women’s participation in and access to the workforce. Equity and diversity in contracting are integral to bolstering this recovery. As Commissioner, I will invest in increased outreach to women and minority-owned businesses (WMOB) to encourage applications and share information about Port programs. I will also support increased diversity in contracting standards that calculate the impact of COVID-19 and equitably prioritize WMOB to match the scale of impact. Utilization of Priority Hire, investment in apprenticeship and education programs, and bolstering the South King County fund are all integral steps to ensure that we are not taking steps back in the fight for gender equality.

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

1) The Port of Seattle’s grant programs are a powerful tool for investing in organizations that work directly with unsheltered people. I support expanding these programs and working directly with cities to provide relevant Port property (such as the Interbay Village) and resources for housing stabilization to tackle the homelessness crisis.

2) I support additional funding for the King County Regional Homelessness Authority to develop long-term solutions that are integral steps to tackling our housing crisis. Our continued partnership with stakeholders, community members, and elected officials is essential to mitigating the homelessness crisis, especially during COVID-19.

3) COVID-19 has exacerbated the homelessness crisis through the reduction of wages for workers and housing displacement. I support the Port in ensuring that worker’s wages truly meet the cost of living. Every Port worker should be making a family wage that aligns with regional housing prices. No Port worker should have to rely on housing subsidies; it is our duty to ensure that every worker has access to affordable housing.

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

As aforementioned, economic justice is central to my campaign and my efforts. COVID-19 has exposed many of the unjust economic realities that have long plagued our region and our country. Women and minorities are most impacted by the recession as a result of their marginalization from the workforce. Higher education has become inaccessible for so many and the debt crisis is stymying economic opportunities for generations of Americans. In King County, the exorbitant cost of living is not commensurate with wages. Far too many cannot afford rent, let alone imagine the opportunity to buy property.

I am committed to removing the obstacles that block our communities from progress. We must have a post-COVID-19 recovery plan in place that ensures equity, safety, and long-term economic security for all. I will use my position as Port Commissioner to invest early in BIPOC youth to tackle the systemic injustices that have plagued our economic history. I have heard from far too many young people, particularly BIPOC youth in south King County, that they thought a four-year college degree was their only option and it was unaffordable. Promoting technical education and apprenticeships is integral to providing young people of color with opportunities to thrive. To grow the sector, the Port should partner with school districts to bring opportunities for manufacturing, maritime, construction, artisan, and aviation trades to students and simplify pathways for technical training. The Port must also invest in technical training programs to ensure BIPOC representation and living wages throughout our supply chain. Expanding the Opportunity Youth Initiative is an integral initiative that should be transitioned to a permanent program to address historical inequality for these communities. Strong investment in pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, focusing on recruiting historically marginalized communities, is integral to shaping our workforce and expanding access to the middle class. I am currently working closely with the new Maritime High School and its principal, Tremain Holloway, to help recruit students. The Maritime High School will provide students interested in a maritime career with the skills needed to succeed. I am committed to supporting efforts towards specialized education in partnership with our school districts to ensure our youth can enter the workforce with confidence.

I am also committed to expanding outreach to promote contracts with women and minority-owned businesses (WMOB). The Port can leverage its immense purchasing power to expand diversity in contracting for these businesses. I am also committed to expanding investment in the South King County Fund and see immense potential for the establishment of another fund to focus on WMOB development. The Port must play an active outreach and community engagement role to shift the traditional narrative and support WMOB and BIPOC communities in their participation with Port activities.

Above all, the Port must play an active role in ensuring that all jobs within its jurisdiction are family-wage jobs that support economic prosperity. Investing in our communities and our constituents should be at the forefront of the Port’s agenda. As Port Commissioner, I will be a strong partner of unions to protect the right to organize. I will support policies like Community Workforce Agreements to directly impact our communities and Priority Hire to build a diverse workforce. I believe that we can secure a better economic future for all King County residents with the right leadership. I am seeking your support so that I can be that leader.

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 primary transit challenge facing the Port of Seattle is accessibility to and traffic reduction around SeaTac Airport. The congestion at SeaTac Airport has economic, environmental, and health impacts on airport communities. One way to reduce this congestion is through the promotion and increased accessibility of cycling. Making cycling to the airport convenient, particularly for Port employees, will help to offset the environmental impact of SeaTac. It will reduce the congestion around the airport and in airport communities, which will contribute to better air quality and increased mobility for those most impacted by airport activities. Investment in bike storage boxes rather than bike racks will help encourage cyclists to leave their bikes at the airport when they travel.

SeaTac has the potential to be a leader and model in bicycle-air travel. I will work with regional and local jurisdictions to coordinate improved bicycle access to SeaTac. The City of SeaTac’s Safe and Complete Streets Plan and the Transportation Element in the City of SeaTac’s Comprehensive Plan outline improvements to bicycle mobility throughout the city and to major destinations, such as SeaTac. The Port must partner with SeaTac to implement, accelerate, and support these improvements, particularly given how many Port employees live in SeaTac and neighboring cities. Investments in this infrastructure, incentivizing Port employees to ride to work, and celebrating cycling at the Port will help to redefine the Port of Seattle’s cycling culture and offset environmental impacts.

The Port must also be a strong partner with Sound Transit to support the expansion of the Link light rail. The Link light rail has been an incredible resource to SeaTac in traffic reduction. However, there is still room for improvement to make the light rail connection to the terminal more accessible for people with disabilities. As Port Commissioner, I will promote partnership with Sound Transit to increase employee and traveler usage of the light rail while prioritizing investments in accessibility.

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

We are amidst a climate crisis and environmental protection must be at the forefront of all decision-making. Here in King County, we can see how environmental burdens exacerbate barriers to health and safety, even decreasing life expectancy for people living in areas near the Port. The Cumulative Health Impacts Analysis of 2013 found that a range of health exposures and impacts disproportionately affect people in the Duwamish Valley, an area with the greatest number of contaminated waste sites, poorly built environmental characteristics, and severe air pollution compared to the rest of Seattle. The wildfires that ravaged the West coast this summer showed us that climate change, air quality, economic injustice, and COVID-19 are interlinked. Combating this reality will take honesty, accountability, and innovation.

As Port Commissioner, I will use my position to ensure that the Port’s future growth limits climate impacts and encourages environmental stewardship. I am committed to expanding the Port of Seattle’s effort to transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy while simultaneously creating jobs in a just manner. I am also a strong proponent of investments to mitigate the environmental impacts of the Port of Seattle and a supporter of the Port’s goal to be the most energy-efficient Port in North America. In line with these environmental goals, the Port must also expand upon its work with communities in the Duwamish Valley that are disproportionately impacted by the Port’s operations and the current detours from the West Seattle Bridge. Through expansion of the Duwamish Valley Community Equity Program and the South King County Fund, the Port can invest in environmental justice efforts and recovery capital efforts.

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

The Port of Seattle’s taxing authority comes from a tax levy. The levy is incredibly important for funding community investments, infrastructure, and environmental sustainability, among other key issue areas.

I am supportive of reforming the Washington state tax system to reduce the reliance on regressive systems of taxation and implementing progressive taxation that truly funds the needs of our communities. I am also supportive of eliminating the 1% cap on property tax revenue. In doing so, the Port of Seattle can raise revenue to further invest in habitat restoration, apprenticeships, and education, and promoting the wellbeings of our communities.

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

Printed Name: Hamdi Mohamed

Date: 04/07/2021

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