Steve Hannon drives a pickup with 300,000 miles on it. He teaches school, serves as a building-level union rep for the state teachers union, and has voted for Democrats.
But when it came to filing for office earlier this month, Hannon registered with no party affiliation. He says Congress needs an “everyday” person like himself, willing to take an independent path on issues.
Hannon, who lives near Yelm, is one of six people who filed last week to run for the new 10th Congressional District, which runs from Shelton to Thurston County and north to University Place and Puyallup.
“I honestly didn’t know I was going to do this until I walked through the door’’ to file, Hannon said.
“I’m disillusioned and disappointed in the two parties. It’s the only two choices we have. We have this atmosphere of bickering and challenging each other and drawing each other rather than having civil debate and conversation about the issues.’’
Hannon says he is so put off by money in politics that he is not going to accept money from organizations – only individuals. He said this personal ban extends to the Washington Education Association, for which he serves as a building rep and is in good standing.
Refusing money from corporations, unions and PACs may set him apart in this race, which likely will be the focus of heavy independent group spending on ads after the Aug. 7 primary.
As of last week, Hannon had one donation – from his mother-in-law, which he said was an unexpected thrill.
“I’m (an) everyday regular ordinary person like most of the people out there. I’m paying my mortgage. I’m paying my student loans and having the same problems that ordinary everyday people have. So I understand what they are going through and understand what they want. They want support that actually works. They want to be heard,’’ Hannon said.
His job as a teacher is shaping his run for Congress. For one, he doesn’t plan to do much campaigning until after the school year ends in late June. He also questions the education reform debate, saying schools are not as bad as some suggest – but that there are real classroom issues around resources that get in the way of learning.
What are the neglected issues? “Class size and the underlying problems within society – poverty,” he said. Teachers need “real support in the way of training and materials.”
Hannon was born in the Seattle area, grew up in Vancouver and later bounced between the Evergreen State and Los Angeles. He and his wife, Candace, moved to the Olympia area to be closer to her family after her father’s death more than a decade ago. The couple has two adult children.
On the issues, Hannon appears to line up more on the liberal end of the spectrum – with exceptions.
SOCIAL ISSUES: He favors keeping a woman’s legal choice on abortion. He favors same-sex marriage and questions what the fuss is.
He also favors gun rights.
MILITARY: In a district that includes Joint Base Lewis-McChord, he wants to end U.S. involvement in wars, putting money saved to work on domestic problems.
“I would not do anything to domestic military spending. Our overseas military spending – that’s another story,” he said, contending the U.S. has more than 20 bases in Germany and could use fewer. “I don’t think we need to be the policeman of the world any more, or not to the extent we have been. We are propping up and subsidizing other governments by not making them responsible for their own defense. We have plenty of problems we can spend that money on here.”
ECONOMY: Asked to name the biggest issue in the election, he said: “The economy is still a big issue for people. Redistributing the way we spend money – less overseas and more here – would give us more tools to stimulate or grow the economy inside our borders.’’
TAXES: Hannon said he would let the Bush-era tax cuts expire.
ENERGY: He also favors efforts to stimulate “green” energy technology. But he has few specifics to get it done other than saying government has a role to promote fuel cell development and to adopt building codes that can require the use of solar panels or wind energy. He is not sure about offering tax breaks or incentives to use alternatives.
HEALTH CARE: He has a qualm with federal reform. “I don’t think you should be able to force people to buy health care. But I don’t think health care should be a privilege,” he said. “It should be a right. I think we should be going to a single payer system.’’firstname.lastname@example.org 360-753-1688 www.theolympian.com/politicsblog