By Ryan Pangilinan
Northwest Asian Weekly
It seems as though whenever people throw their names into the hat of politics, too many of them are only doing it for a personal gain. Oftentimes, they run without a connection to their community. Lloyd Hara, however, may be the exception.
Hara is a third generation Japanese American and has spent most of his life in the Seattle area, graduating from Roosevelt High School. He earned his bachelor’s degree in economics the University of Washington and his master’s degree in public administration at Seattle University. A majority of his work has been with the public sector, working toward bettering the city, county, and state in which he grew up.
“By becoming more and more active in the political process,” began Hara, “[Asian Americans] come to the attention of political leaders … and leaders in general.”
In 2005, Hara was elected to the Commission of the Port of Seattle, a position he is stepping down from to run for the office of King County Assessor.
“First and foremost, I’d bring professionalism to the office,” said Hara. “The office currently, in 2009, is at a 400 percent increase in the number of appeals to the Board of Equalization. I would definitely want to get that way down to a number that allows the staff to work on appraising and not sitting there trying to defend their work.
“Number two: [I’d] make sure that the model that’s being used, the computerized model, is correct and accurate. I’ve discussed this with a number of University of Washington professors who question the validity of the model, and I’d like to know why they’ve found the standard deviation errors and to correct that.”
If it sounds like Hara knows a thing or two about what he has ahead of him, provided he wins the election, it’s because he has spent the better part of his life active in King County and Washington state politics.
In addition to his previous position at the Port of Seattle, Hara has gained valuable experience as a fiscal analyst for the State House of Representatives, as King County Auditor, and as Seattle City Treasurer. He was also appointed by then-President Clinton as the regional director of FEMA.
Hara has a no-nonsense approach, and he hopes to improve the infrastructure so that it can run smoothly without him — something that is unique since many career politicians work to keep the status quo — particularly within the Asian Pacific Islander (API) community.
“It’s important to have Asian Pacific Islanders move up into key political positions,” Hara said.
“It’s important that you’re in a position of leadership so that you can hire folks of ability and talent. Throughout my personal career, I’ve made it a point to hire aspiring Asian Americans to key positions within the office, and I will continue to do the same. The office in itself is an office of diversity.”
Having had guidance during the beginning of his career, Hara offers to do the same for other young Asian Americans who are looking to have a job in public service.
“It’s important to have mentors that provide the way and explore opportunities for young people,” he said.
As the Nov. 3 elections draw closer, Hara looks at how his experience and knowledge, combined with shepherding new ideas and new minds, will improve a department that is, for lack of a better term, in over its head.
“[I want] to elevate the staff,” he said. “They can continue to grow and develop in the job.
“Another area is that basic accountability is brought to the office. I firmly believe that the office is accountable, transparent, and an assistant to taxpayers.
“One of the big things is to have the taxpayers’ confidence in their property tax evaluation system, and I think it’s an important element that the assessor has to play to get out to the public.” ♦
Ryan Pangilinan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.