Hank Myers is getting quite a workout these days as he advocates for improving education and government efficiency in his bid for state office.
Myers, a Republican who is serving his second term on the Redmond City Council, has spent his afternoons and evenings riding his bike from door to door, campaigning for Pos. 2 of the 48th Legislative District, which includes parts of Redmond. He has pedaled his way throughout the district — where he has lived for the last 37 years — visiting more than 3,100 homes, talking to constituents and stressing the importance of education and budgeting reform for state government.
Myers, who describes himself as a fiscally conservative, socially moderate politician, said his top priority is improving public education. A big issue Myers has heard during his bicycle door belling is that many parents have enrolled their children in private schools because of the lack of classroom funding in public schools. He said lawmakers need to cut back on school administration costs, which account for more than 40 percent of the state education budget.
“We need to put that money toward classrooms and teachers,” said Myers, a retired transportation consultant and former Coast Guard air rescue crewman who hopes to replace retiring Rep. Deb Eddy, D-Kirkland.
Myers, who filed for election May 18, is running against Democratic candidate Cyrus Habib, a Bellevue attorney. Both candidates are seeking their first seat in state office.
EDUCATION, BUDGETING BY PRIORITIES
In addition to enrolling their children in private schools, Myers said many parents tell him they are using tutorial services like Dartmoor and Kumon because of the lack of funding in the public school sector.
“Education funding is inadequate,” he said. “More and more people are taking their kids to private schools. I think it’s absolutely a shame. First of all because it’s an admission that our schools are not doing the job.”
If elected, Myers said he will work to put more money into the classrooms and help fulfill the state’s constitutional obligation to provide adequate financial support for its public schools.
Myers, who has served on the curriculum development committee and the gifted education committee of the Bellevue School District, said in order adequately fund education, the state’s budgeting process must be reformed.
“We need to shrink the rest of the general budget, which has grown,” he said. Meanwhile, funding for education has shrunk. One way to improve education funding is to improve efficiency through technology, he said.
“The use of technology could enhance education,” said Myers, who has lectured at the university level. “We have two excellent tech companies in the 48th District — Microsoft and Google. The less we spend on other things, the more we can spend on education.”
Myers is a big advocate of Budgeting by Priorities (BP) — a financial strategy the City of Redmond adopted in 2008 when Myers was first elected to the Redmond City Council. He said the state needs to adopt a priorities-based budgeting approach that is predicated on public input and eliminates partisan politics.
Former Gov. Gary Locke instituted a priority-based approach to budgeting for the state 10 years ago, but current Gov. Chris Gregoire switched back to a more traditional process, where cuts and additions are made using the baseline of the previous budget. A priority budgeting approach uses a zero baseline and funds items that citizens value most.
Myers said BP has worked well in Redmond and it “reduces leadership power and politics.”
“We are looking at services we want to provide not weather we are Democrat or Republican or whose idea it was,” Myer said. “A side benefit of budgeting by priorities is that it lowers the tension to come up with partisan solutions.”
Using this method, the City of Redmond has established a stable budget and council members get along collegially as they put together a financial plan that reflects the priorities of the citizens, Myers said.
LONGTIME RESIDENT WITH EXPERIENCE
Myers, who has lived in south Redmond for nearly 40 years and earned a bachelor of arts in English from California State University, has 35 years of civic and regulatory experience. He has developed software for improving government efficiency and won awards for innovative transportation programs.
He serves on the board of director for the Together Center, a Redmond-based, multi-social-services organization, where he has helped plan and implement several cost-saving outreach programs. An environmental advocate, he serves on the Salmon Recovery Council and is a certified forest steward with the Green Redmond program.
Before retiring in 2010, Myers for 20 years was the principal consultant for MTC, a transportation consulting firm. His clients ranged from small, rural airlines in Alaska to Microsoft, where he organized its award-winning commute-trip reduction program.
In addition to his professional work in transportation, Myers was appointed to leadership positions on three Metro Transit Citizen Sounding Boards assessing Eastside bus service.
Myers provided a list of endorsements, which included Sammamish Mayor Tom O’Dell and Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee. Myers’ endorsement list also includes several Eastside city council members and three King County council members, including Jane Hague, Kathy Lambert and Reagan Dunn.
Throughout his professional and civic career, Myers said he has worked hard to “provide the most effective and efficient use of funds” — something he hopes to bring to Olympia.
For more information, visit electhankmyers.com.