Hussey aims to bring ‘business sense’ to Olympia | 45th District, Pos. 1
July 30, 2012 · 10:55 AM
For the Reporter
Redmond businessman Joel Hussey is out to fix the state’s budget.
The first-time politician is running for Pos. 1 in the 45th Legislative District to bring some “business sense” to Olympia’s growing debt disasters.
Hussey, a Republican, will challenge three-term incumbent Roger Goodman and political newcomer Jacob Bond, both Democrats from Kirkland.
“The numbers keep getting bigger and bigger. And the structural problems in the system are getting larger and larger,” lamented Hussey, who is CEO and president of the Redmond-based aircraft leasing company Tailwind Capital. “The longer you wait, the harder they are to fix. At some point you gotta quit complaining to your friends and step up and do something about it.”
A lifelong Washington resident with two decades in the aviation industry, Hussey is well versed in the art of budgeting and frustrated by a government he says refuses to operate “within finite resources.”
“You can’t just spend without limits in a business context,” Hussey said.
Likewise, Olympia needs to set priorities and allocate its resources accordingly. Hussey believes his background has primed him for the job.
After graduating with an accounting degree from Seattle Pacific University and earning his MBA from the University of Washington, Hussey spent 12 years as CFO at Boullioun Aviation in Bellevue. He then founded his own company, Tailwind Capital, which leases commercial aircraft to clients all over the globe and manages their investments.
“Dealing with big numbers doesn’t really scare me,” he said.
Despite his focus on business, Hussey considers himself a family man first and foremost. The 49-year-old has been married to his wife, Christi, for 26 years. They have four children, the youngest of whom is about to graduate from high school.
Consequently, Hussey’s community involvement is tightly tethered to his active parenting. He’s the president of the Bellevue Christian board of directors, where all his children attended. His kids played club soccer so he coached them, which culminated in heading the gargantuan Lake Washington Youth Soccer Association (LWYSA).
Yet, Hussey’s business acumen proved a vital asset to his community commitments when the LWYSA needed rescue from suspension and scandal in 2004. Back when Hussey was just a coach, the association’s board started raking in inflated registration fees from its 6,500 youth members to finance inflated executive salaries and risky investments.
When a parent started asking questions, his child was suspended and then the state soccer organization started paying attention. The LWYSA was suspended in turn and after much ugliness and legal battles, most of the old board resigned.
Hussey and a cadre of committed volunteers stepped into the leadership void, inheriting a tarred organization and $ 1 million in debt.
“Over a period of 18 months, we re-cut a deal with the bank, restructured fees and reduced them, cut expenses dramatically, but still provided the services necessary to the players and their families,” Hussey recalled. “It was a bath of fire, (but) it’s now in a far better place than it was then.”
Hussey’s experience with the LWYSA is analogous to his plans for the Legislature. The fiscal conservative believes the state’s top priority, education, can be properly funded by trimming other expenditures, not additional revenue.
We need “to be more efficient and effective with the dollars we have,” he said. He hopes to make Washington more business friendly in the process.
“People who are genuinely trying to grow their business and hire more people shouldn’t be overburdened with regulations,” he said. “If you stimulate business, if the economy starts to pick up, revenues will go up naturally.”
Longtime friend and home loan officer Jeff Tisdale is fully confident in Hussey’s abilities.
“He can wade through a lot of garbage and make good decisions on what’s needed and what’s not needed,” Tisdale assured. “I would like to have 15 guys like Joel working for me, and then all I’d have to do is go golf.”
If Hussey can garner that kind of confidence from the majority of the 45th, his win is assured. He’s certainly not worried about his incumbent competitor, Democrat Roger Goodman, or any others running.
“I am focused. The mission is changing the way Olympia works and the citizens have to decide whether they want more of the same or whether they want change,” he said. “Game on.”
For more information, visit www.joelhussey.com.
Ilona Idlis is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.