I strongly disagree with some of my fellow commissioners on the recent issue of our Port CEO serving on a private, for-profit board while also pulling one of the largest public employee salaries in our state. Aside from the indefensible compensation issues, the appearance of conflict of interest doesn’t sit well with me.

I am outraged by these recent events, as I detailed at our August 14th Port Commission meeting. On the record, I had previously voted against giving the CEO an employment contract that allowed this to happen. I have twice voted against a pay raise for our Port CEO; because, in a recession when most people are struggling to find work, it isn’t right to give CEOs outrageous salary increases. And the legislators who have flagged their concern are right: this too is wrong. Yesterday I asked the CEO to step down from the board. Today I’m asking my fellow commissioners to join me in asking him to choose: step down from the board or step down from the Port. The people of King County want their elected officials to do what’s best for the public. So do I.

But unfortunately, state law is silent about this. It’s all-too-common to find high-level public servants in our state walking the halls of corporate America and sitting in boardrooms. We need to change this situation. If I’m elected to serve in the state legislature, I will introduce a bill to prohibit public officials from serving on for-profit boards for compensation. We have to stop doing things that harm public trust in government.

I know this position may not make me popular with my fellow commissioners. I am grateful to the legislators for flagging this and to the hundreds of constituents who have contacted me because I stood alone at our August 14th meeting and their voices have added strength to my opinion on this matter.

Your opinion matters to me, so please contact me directly with your thoughts of the recent Port CEO flap. You can reach me at 206.289.0453 or gaeltarleton@voteforgael.org.