Sue Taoka, second from left. • Photo from livingcities.org.
Sue Taoka, second from left. • Photo from livingcities.org.

On Friday, January 16, Sue Taoka was appointed by Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee to the Puget Sound Partnership Leadership Council.

The Puget Sound Partnership is a non-regulatory state agency that leads and coordinates the efforts of governments, tribes, scientists, businesses, and nonprofits to set priorities for Puget Sound recovery. The Leadership Council is the governing body of the Puget Sound Partnership. Its seven members are appointed by the governor.

“Sue Taoka understands that a healthy Puget Sound is critical to the vitality of our region—to our ecosystem, our economy, and the legacy we are building for the next generations,” Inslee said in a statement. “Sue’s work in connecting our citizens with the resources they need to be good stewards of our natural resources provides a great lens through which to guide the Partnership’s efforts to mobilize Puget Sound recovery.”

Taoka’s term runs through June 25, 2018.

Taoka is an executive vice president at Craft3, a nonprofit lender that provides business, septic repair, and energy-efficiency loans in Washington and Oregon. Craft3 is focused on improving the environment, economy, and equity of the community. Taoka has worked at Craft3 since 2008. Her work includes supporting staff and public health departments to provide access to credit for homeowners with failing septic systems. Older and poorly maintained onsite sewage systems can leak sewage into Puget Sound, that in turn impact shellfish beds, swimming beaches, and other public health issues related to water quality.

Previously, Taoka spent 14 years as executive director of the Seattle Chinatown International District Preservation and Development Authority, the major property management and community development organization in the Chinatown International District. Taoka also served as the Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Norm Rice for housing, economic and community development, neighborhoods, parks, and libraries. Before that, Taoka led the International District Improvement Association.

Taoka’s community involvement includes being a founding member of the National Coalition of Asian Pacific American Community. She is also a board member of several organizations, including the Urban League of Metropolitan Seattle, Seattle Investment Fund, Yesler Community Collaborative, and the Friends of Little Saigon.

The Puget Sound Partnership laid out three region-wide priorities in its 2014/15 action agenda:

1. Prevent pollution from urban stormwater runoff. Polluted runoff from roads, roofs, parking lots, and other paved areas is the biggest threat to Puget Sound’s water quality, the partnership said.

2. Protect and restore habitat. Restoring damaged shorelines and protecting salmon habitat along the many rivers and streams that flow into Puget Sound is necessary to save salmon and honor tribal treaty rights, the partnership said.

3. Restore and re-open shellfish beds. Shellfish harvesting is a major Puget Sound industry, and a tribal treaty right. Both are threatened by pollution that has closed more than 7,000 acres of Puget Sound beaches, the partnership said. Shellfish health begins on land, through reduction of pollution from rural and agricultural lands and maintenance and repair of failing septic tanks.

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