Bill Bryant's Agriculture Background

Dan Wheat from the Capital Press wrote the following profile of Bill Bryant on May, 18 2015: 

An international trade consultant and Port of Seattle commissioner has announced his candidacy for Washington governor.

Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant is the first candidate in Washington’s 2016 race for governor and hopes to gain strong support from agriculture because of his links to the industry.

Bryant, 54, of Seattle, was vice president of the Northwest Horticultural Council in Yakima from 1985 to 1992 and helped gain market access for apples in Mexico and India, cut apple tariffs in Taiwan and eliminate barriers in Scandinavia.

In 1992, he started the trade consulting firm Bryant Christie in Seattle that has worked on trade issues for tree fruit, fresh and processed potatoes, hops, wine and berries. The company grew from his basement to offices in Seattle and Sacramento with 32 employees, specializing in market access, international marketing and researching and maintaining an online data base of international commodity standards.

“Agriculture will never have a governor who understands it and cares about it as much as I will,” Bryant told Capital Press.

“Figuring out a long-term sustainable water plan for Central Washington is critical to keeping jobs in Washington state,” he said, mentioning the Yakima Basin, Tri-Cities and Moses Lake areas. More reservoir water retention is needed, he said.

Bryant said he’s inspired to run by a Catholic priest, the late Roy Davis, who told him at the end of life “the only things that matter are lives you’ve touched and community you’ve built.”

“The other person inspiring me to run is the incumbent (Gov. Jay Inslee) who is not building community but has a divisive and hyper-partisan style,” Bryant said.

“I can pull people together and get things done,” he said.

A Republican, Bryant downplayed party politics in a May 14 video announcing his candidacy. He said his agenda is not partisan or ideological but focused on helping build “solid, family-wage jobs,” improving education and avoiding more taxes on middle-class families.

Bryant was encouraged to run by more than two dozen state House Republicans.

He spoke May 16 at the annual meeting of Mainstream Republicans of Washington in Leavenworth. Other potential Republican contenders for governor also spoke: Congressman Dave Reichert and state Sens. Andy Hill, Redmond, and Steve Litzow, Mercer Island.

The same day Bryant announced for governor, a Shell Oil Co. ship arrived at the Port of Seattle to store equipment needed to drill for oil in Alaska. Bryant was criticized by environmental protesters opposed to drilling for his role as a port commissioner in leasing space to Shell.

“If I thought the Shell rig would in any way damage Puget Sound, I would be out there in a kayak (with the protesters), but it is not,” he said. “Rejecting the lease won’t affect Arctic drilling. President Obama is moving full steam ahead on Arctic drilling. Prohibiting Shell at our port would cost us 200 to 400 middle-class jobs. It’s a choice between middle-class jobs and a symbolic statement. I chose jobs.”

Shell would go to other ports in Washington, British Columbia or Alaska if Seattle rescinds its two-year lease, he said.

Bryant was born in Morton, grew up in Hoodsport and near Olympia and received a bachelor’s degree in trade and diplomacy from Georgetown University in 1983. He worked for Gov. John Spellman on trade issues.

He has been a Seattle port commissioner since 2008 but is not seeking a third term. His term expires in December. He has worked on statewide transportation and tourism issues and consolidation of the seaports of Tacoma and Seattle.

His wife, Barbara, has been executive director of the Yakima River Greenway, vice president of the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center and vice president of Woodland Park Zoo, both in Seattle.

Mike Foster