Albert Shen switches from mayor to city council race — Shen to challenge Position 8 incumbent Mike O’Brien

By Charles Lam
Northwest Asian Weekly

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Albert Shen (Photo by Charles Lam/NWAW)

Small business owner and Seattle Community College trustee Albert Shen filed for the 2013 city council race on Tuesday, Feb. 26.  He will be vying for the Position 8 seat currently held by former Chair of the Washington Sierra Club Mike O’Brien.

“Seattle is a great city. It’s got a lot of good things going on, but this last recession was a very deep recession, and I think it hurt a lot of working families,” Shen said in an interview with the Northwest Asian Weekly.

“This is about economic vitality and creating jobs,” he continued. “I think the city needs to do its part as far as creating an environment to get more jobs now. One part of it is that we need to have a better economic environment for local and international investment. There are a lot of opportunities for foreign direct investment here, especially from Asia. We have a lot of great, organically grown companies, but I think we’re missing help for the tourism and transportation markets. It’s about creating jobs. That’s the main reason I want to be on city council.”

If elected, Shen said that he would focus on transportation infrastructure, specifically mass transit, after his first priority of job creation.

“I believe in mass transit.” Shen said. “You see what other parts of the world are doing with real mass transit. We have an opportunity to have real mass transit; we need transit in which you can get from Queen Anne to West Seattle on a major rail system without having to drive. It’s good for the environment, it reduces our carbon footprint, and just like any major city with a major railway system, you want to move people efficiently.”

Shen’s name had been considered as a possible candidate for mayor, but he instead decided to run for city council.

“I think it’s the best way to serve the city,” he said when asked about his decision. “It was about how I could apply my skills and my leadership to how I can help make the city better.”

A second generation Chinese American born in Connecticut and raised in Pullman, Wash., Shen has not before sought public office before, but does have a breadth of experience in business and non-profit service.

He is the CEO and President of Shen Consulting Inc., a small business specializing in the delivery of large infrastructure projects based in Seattle. Shen Consulting has worked with the Port of Seattle, consulting on the third runway project, rental car facility project, and other projects.

Shen has also served on the board of directors of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Puget Sound affiliate and on the board of trustees of the Seattle Community Colleges.

Before founding Shen Consulting, Shen worked as an environmental scientist accessing nuclear waste facilities in the Northwest region, Hawaii, and Alaska

“As a city we have to be able to develop policies to reduce the impacts of global warming,” Shen said.

“I studied global climate change and ozone depletion,” he continued. “Surface water management is the work I’ve been doing here. I understand the technical aspect of the environment — that’s why I got in the field. I wanted to help clean it up.”

Mike O’Brien, position 8 incumbent, has a strong environmental record.

Following his work as an environmental scientist, Shen turned towards service. He first began by running the Seattle Asian American Film Festival, then joining the board of directors of the Northwest Asian American Theatre, National Association of Asian American Professionals, and the Seattle Chinatown–International District Preservation and Development Authority.

“I’ve always believed that you have to be involved in the community,” he said. “It’s just something I enjoy doing. The API community is very special. There are just so many young and energetic leaders serving on these non-profit boards, and I really was drawn to that and think that’s something our community needs. That’s why I joined them, and today, it’s just part of who I am.” (end)

Charles Lam can be reached at charles@nwasianweekly.com.

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