The name “Steinbrueck” is one of those that comes up in at least half of all local conversations about architecture and preservation.
In the 1960s and '70s, Victor Steinbrueck led the effort to preserve Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square. Victor’s son, Peter Steinbrueck, has quite a few achievements under his belt as well, from serving on City Council in the 1990s and 2000s, to coming in third in the 2013 mayor’s race, to currently serving as a Seattle Port Commissioner, to reminding everyone who his dad is.
Over the course of Steinbrueck-the-Younger’s multi-decade career, there are plenty of accomplishments of which he can be proud — or, at the very least, unapologetic, which is the tone he struck in a Stranger Election Control Board meeting this week when confronted about a leaked email.
Back in August, Steinbrueck bumped into former state Rep. Velma Veloria at a Port event at the Duwamish River Community Center. By multiple accounts, Veloria, who is currently an organizer for social justice nonprofits, handed Steinbrueck a flyer and asked to meet with him about the community impact of a proposed airport expansion in King County. A meeting was put on the calendar, but Veloria had to cancel, she says, because it fell too close to another event.
Sounds normal so far, right? Well, things were about to get awkward. Veloria had just endorsed Toshiko Hasegawa, Steinbrueck’s challenger in the upcoming Port Commission election, and the day after Veloria cancelled the meeting, Steinbrueck reached out to share his feelings.
“I was disappointed to see that you’ve endorsed my opponent. That’s no way to build a supportive relationship with the port by opposing the incumbent," he wrote in the email to Veloria.
If he was hoping she might switch her endorsement, well, that seems unlikely now. “I’m pissed at you for even writing me this email,” Veloria wrote in response. “‘This is no way to build a supportive relationship’ with community.”
When asked about the interaction during an interview this week, Steinbrueck said Veloria's endorsement of Hasegawa was "a form of betrayal, and it is personal."
Veloria doesn't see it that way. “Let me be clear, he is not my BFF," she told The Stranger. "He and I have respected each other over the years for the work that we both do. Until that email. I was so pissed. ... I will make that choice on my own. I don’t need his permission."
Steinbrueck told The Stranger that he didn't mean to suggest with the email that his support for projects is contingent on an endorsement. “If she can get over her little spate and leaking things to the media, thinking that’s going to advance her cause — it’s not — I will be happy to meet with a community group," he said.
When asked if she plans to meet with Steinbrueck in the future, Veloria just laughed and noted that "the man never asked me for my endorsement. He never endorsed me."
If each lost endorsement is perceived as a personal slight, Steinbrueck's email outbox may quickly fill, given just how many endorsements his opponent has racked up: Governor Inslee, U.S. Rep. Jayapal, and Rep. Adam Smith have all endorsed Hasegawa, along with numerous labor and environmental groups and various Democratic clubs. Steinbruck’s list of organizational endorsers is … less extensive.
Nevertheless, he told The Stranger, “I probably have the broadest, most diverse support of any commission campaign out there. Economically, socially, ethnically.”
When asked about that claim, Hasegawa responded simply, “I didn’t know that Peter had endorsements.”