Republican Port Commissioner Bryant aims for Olympia

Republican Port Commissioner Bryant aims for Olympia

Republican Port Commissioner Bryant aims for Olympia

While there are more than a dozen GOP candidates fighting for the 2016 presidential ticket, Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant is currently the only Republican to declare his campaign for next year’s Washington gubernatorial race.

First elected to the port commission in 2007, Bryant’s second term expires at the end of December. 

He announced his campaign for governor in May and spent the summer in Central, Eastern and Southwestern Washington, getting his name out there.

“I can tell that it’s beginning to pick up,” Bryant said of his campaign. “It’s not as visible in King County.”

Despite twice being elected Seattle Port commissioner, Bryant said he’s more well known around the Olympic Peninsula, where he grew up, and Eastern Washington, where he once resided; his Seattle-based business, Bryant Christie Inc., provides agricultural export services to farmers there. 


Committed to conservation

The Republican candidate took criticism from environmentalists recently, when he was the sole supporter of not delaying the arrival of Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling fleet to Seattle during its journey north.

Bryant said he was looking at the fleet’s presence in Terminal 5 in terms of how it could benefit the Puget Sound region, believing an estimated 200 to 400 jobs would be created. At the time he voted, he said, it was assumed the Obama administration would be approving Shell’s drilling request, which it did in mid-August.

“We didn’t know that at the time,” he said, “but we were told that was highly likely.”

Bryant points to his time on the board of Stewardship Partners as evidence of his commitment to conservation. The nonprofit assists private landowners in restoring fish and wildlife habitat, with several projects taking place in Snohomish County, Bryant said. He took a leave of absence from the organization to campaign for governor.


‘A critical time’

The Seattle Republican blames Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s leadership in part for the recent record-setting 176-day legislative session, pointing to the governor’s proposed capital gains tax and cap-and-trade legislation.

“He was incapable of getting those ideas through his own caucus,” Bryant said.

He also faults the governor for not adequately addressing issues of equity when it came to funding education to meet requirements of the McCleary decision; the Legislature now faces a daily fine of $100,000, imposed by the state Supreme Court, for falling short this legislative session. 

“How we get there, I don’t know,” Bryant said of funding education in a way that doesn’t put poorer school districts at a disadvantage. He said the Supreme Court was too focused on teacher pay in its order to the Legislature, and not on equity. “That is not what the original decision was about.”

Bryant said the state education system is also failing students by not preparing them for college or the job market.

“It’s a critical time for the future of our state, in that we have an education system that is failing too many kids,” he said. 


Quantifiable benchmarks

If elected, Bryant said he wants to see quantifiable benchmarks being met in government-funded programs and explore other options for delivering.

“We might find out we end up with a very different-looking bureaucracy,” he said, adding cutting programs would be less contentious if there was better data to show they are not working. “If you’re cutting a program that isn’t working, who are you hurting?”

Bryant said he also wants to focus on job creation, one goal being to build the North Pacific Fishing Fleet backup, which would require tens of millions of dollars to construct new, top-of-the-line vessels. He again points to a broken Washington education system as a reason there are not more people working in that industry, saying they lack the computer science and mathematic skills now required in the field.

He said he also would use his professional experience helping companies and organizations expand into international markets to boost trade and tourism in Washington. 

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