Former Yakima Valley fruit exporter challenges Inslee for seat

Republican Bill Bryant, a former Seattle Port commissioner and Yakima Valley fruit exporter, hopes to unseat Gov. Jay Inslee in the November election.

Bryant served as a Seattle Port commissioner from 2008 through 2015 and is also the founder and chairman of Bryant Christie, a firm that helps farmers and agriculture companies export their crops. He left the Port post to run for the state’s top office.

Republican Bill Bryant, a former Seattle Port commissioner and Yakima Valley fruit exporter, hopes to unseat Gov. Jay Inslee in the November election.

Republican Bill Bryant, a former Seattle Port commissioner and Yakima Valley fruit exporter, hopes to unseat Gov. Jay Inslee in the November election.

Bryant said he accomplished the goals he had set as a Port commissioner, including cutting port carbon emissions and bringing the ports of Tacoma and Seattle together to create the Seaport Alliance.

Consolidating the ports gives them a competitive edge, making the Seaport Alliance the third-largest port for container shipments in North America.

Bryant said one of his goals as governor would include making Washington’s schools stronger.

Bryant is a staunch supporter of the state’s charter schools and would like to see the state ‘reinvent’ the final two years of high school, so curriculum is more relevant to the individual student’s future.

Bryant said he wants to retain AP classes and the Running Start program, but he also would like to see more opportunities for students who aren’t seeking to go to college and are looking into more vocational opportunities.

“Like pre-apprenticeship programs that allow students to graduate with a certificate that will get them a family-wage job.”

Bryant said another top priority is creating a more fiscally-responsible government in the state.

“We are not being prudent with our tax dollars,” Bryant said. “In 2015, there was a 15 percent increase in tax revenue and it wasn’t enough.”

Inslee’s lack of leadership and planning has cost the state’s taxpayers.

“There is no reason other than incompetence for a legislative special session,” Bryant said.

The state needed to pass a supplemental budget to pay for the costs of last year’s wildfires, but legislator’s should have known well ahead of the regular session what was going to be in the supplemental budget.

“He rolled it out like it was a new budget,” Bryant said.

In the 3½ years Inslee has been governor, there have been seven special legislative sessions — as many as his predecessor, Chris Gregoire had in eight years.

Bryant said the state develops its budgets based on the previous year’s budget, rather than looking at each agency’s missions and priorities and funding those first. Often programs are refunded without any evaluation of whether they are working and meeting their goals.

Bryant said if he is elected, he will use a four-year, zero-base budget that focus on the state’s ‘key obligations and priorities.”

Bryant is also very concerned about transportation, from keeping traffic moving smoothly on the west side to implementing a statewide freight corridor to ensure the state has the bridges, truck routes and high lanes it needs to efficiently move freight throughout the state and support family-wage jobs.

Bryant said he will also work to fix the state’s broken bureaucracies and bring leaders across party lines to work together to help the entire state prosper.

Bryant is a Washington native who grew up along the shores of Hood Canal. He graduated high school in Olympia and has a Bachelor’s Degree from Georgetown University in trade and democracy.

He married his wife, Barbara, in 1989 and the couple lived in Yakima, where Bryant opened new export markets for Washington produce.

In 1992, the couple moved to Seattle where Bryant founded BCI in their basement. The company now employs a staff of 35.

According to records from the Public Disclosure Commissioner, Bryant has raised $1.13 million for his campaign and spent about $575,000 so far.

Inslee has raised $4.16 million and spent nearly $2 million.

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