PT Leader: Governor hopeful Bill Bryant talks about difference between him and Gov. Inslee

Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill Bryant told Jefferson County Republicans May 7 that he has a shot at beating Democrat Gov. Jay Inslee because he's a leader with a strategic plan who has done the math.

A former Port of Seattle commissioner, Bryant said he's looking in every legislative district for voters who haven't voted, who don't think their votes count, but who he believes will vote for a Republican and get him the 51 percent he needs to upset Inslee.

“It's just a little more in every place,” he said of the votes the GOP needs. “We are going to win this time because of math.”

Bryant was one of five candidates for state office who came to the Jefferson County Lincoln Day luncheon May 7 in Port Townsend...

GOVERNOR CANDIDATE

Kids, jobs, traffic jams, taxes, salmon and fixing broken bureaucracies are the top issues for governor candidate Bryant.

“We need to reinvent the last two years of high school so that it's relevant to what kids want to do after they graduate,” he said in a brief interview before speaking to about 60 Jefferson County Republicans.

Bryant said there should be pre-apprentice programs that go hand-in-hand with high school.

“I don't think we need to raise taxes. I think we need to adjust the way we fund education,” he said, adding that he would roll out more firm ideas in June on education that talk about funding, equity and reform.

“We're going to fund education first as opposed to holding kids hostage to a tax increase,” he said.

Bryant, who was born in Morton and grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, started Bryant Christie Inc., a company that develops international markets for the state agricultural industry. He was instrumental in growing the international markets for apples, cherries and pears. He said that businesses operated in the black for years, to the point where he decided it could run on its own and he could run for a Port of Seattle commission seat.

Bryant said Washington state has growing revenues but he has not seen any scrutiny of the budget.

“So on day one, I'm announcing a zero-based budget. That means you start at zero and identify the strategic objective of every department and then you look at every program,” he said. “If it's not moving you in the direction you want to go, you fix it or remove it.”

As an example, Bryant noted that he has been a volunteer night manager for a homeless shelter for men.

“But I can't get a straight answer on how much the state is spending on homelessness,” he said of concerns that some state programs have no objectives and may not be effective.

“If I proposed to cut a program that is not working, I'm not hurting the homeless if it's not helping them. We're actually hurting them by continuing a program that isn't helping them,” he said.

Bryant said he had recently visited a "tiny house" program in Olympia: Quixote Village, a program touted by advocates for the homeless in Port Townsend, and he was impressed.

“I think that's an incredible model that we ought to be looking at,” he said of the village that houses 30. He was so impressed, he did a video of it and posted it on his Facebook page.

In his speech to the GOP loyal, Bryant said he is different than Inslee.

“Inslee doesn't pull people together,” Bryant said, “We need a governor who can pull diverse interests together and get things done.”

Bryant said that when he first started as a Port of Seattle commissioner they assigned him to a budget committee, which he is happy to get because, “If you control the budget, you control the direction.

“The last budget I voted on in November of 2015 collected millions of dollars less from the people of King County than the first budget eight years before even though we expanded services to the people of King County and Washington state,” he said.

By contrast, he said, Inslee has had millions in new tax revenue and still wants more taxes.

He also said if leaders are not engaged and turn over the government to bureaucrats, it creates departments that don't function, such as the Department of Corrections, which released prisoners early, and the Department of Transportation, which he said creates traffic jams.

He said that all creates a “culture of no,” which he said needs to be replaced with a “culture of yes.”

Bryant also proposed a moratorium on all new regulations “until the ones that are there can be justified.” That last comment drew a round of applause from the Jefferson County audience.

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Mike Foster