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Mayor Lewis running for Port of Seattle board

Pete Lewis - Reporter file photo
Pete Lewis
— image credit: Reporter file photo

Pete Lewis made it clear in 2012 that he would not seek a fourth term as Auburn's mayor.

That doesn't mean, however, that the energetic Lewis intends to settle into a rocking chair.

Sometime this week, during the official filing period for public office in Washington state, Lewis will have signed the papers and dropped his name in the hopper for Port of Seattle Commissioner, Position 1.

"This is a very important position because it's also a taxing district that encompasses all of King County," Lewis said. "There needs to be some representation from the south-end cities outside of the main metropolitan areas. The Port of Seattle encompasses the entire county, and I'd be one of the very few commissioners ever to be south of I-90.

"... I can't continue to do this job," Lewis continued, "but the Port of Seattle has a different mission, and I'd be one of five members... It's about transportation, it's about quality of life and jobs for people. It's all the connections that I have with all the cities."

According to the Public Disclosure Commission's website, incumbent John Creighton III and Andrew Pilloud have also filed.

If he is to be successful, Lewis conceded, he will have to do a bit of catching up raising money. Where Creighton's campaign war chest is already plump with $73,980, Lewis as of this week had no money in his campaign kitty.

What really decided Lewis on running, he said, was the situation the Puget Sound region will find itself in should it fail to respond to the perilous implications posed by the opening of the Panama Canal's new channel sometime around January 2015. Ports from Canada's Prince Rupert to the Port of Los Angeles, the Port of Miami and the Port of Maryland are undergoing billion dollar expansions to accommodate the huge tankers called New Panamax that are being built to take advantage of the widened canal.

"The state of Georgia is already pumping $600 million into the infrastructure system around the Port of Savannah," Lewis said. "The State of Florida is putting a billion dollars into the Port of Miami. Ports in New York, Michigan and Maryland are all doing the same thing.

"They're going after our contracts, our businesses and our jobs, Here in the United States what counts is how fast goods can be delivered to Chicago, which is the clearing house for the entire United States."

The crumbling roads that impede the passage of goods must be fixed or the region will lose out, with terrible economic consequences, Lewis said.

"The only thing that counts is the number of days it takes to get the goods from your port to the City of Chicago. One of the biggest problems facing our port is a lack of infrastructure improvements. Trucks can't get down to the valley where they do their original container loads," Lewis said.

It's a tale, Lewis said, that needs to be told, and he intends to tell it everywhere he goes.

Lewis said he doesn't need the job for income, but he is certain that he can accomplish important things as a port commissioner.

"My wife said if I were to take on a part-time job, I would not work any more than 40 hours a week and she would be happy. She wants me to do something, but she doesn't want me to take on another full-time job because I get too engrossed," Lewis said.

The primary is Aug. 6, the general election is Nov. 5.

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