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Reporter Q&A with Republican U.S. Senate candidate Paul Akers
Republican Paul Akers is bidding to unseat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray this fall.
Akers, 50, is founder and president of FastCap LLC, an international product development company based in Bellingham. His firm has become a model workplace for “lean manufacturing” – a cost-effective approach to doing business.
The business, born in his garage in 1997, has grown to 43 employees, with gross annual sales of $10-12 million.
Akers grew up in Southern California, became an Eagle Scout at 14 and graduated with honors from Biola University in 1984. He began his career as a high school industrial arts teacher. He has also been a contractor and a real estate investor.
The Senatorial race includes fellow Republicans Dino Rossi and Clint Didier.
Akers recently sat down with the Reporter to discuss his campaign, ideas and accomplishments.
Q: How is the campaign going?
A: It’s going very well. The Rasmussen poll, which came out about a week ago, showed we had 38 percent (of the vote) to 47 (percent) for Patty Murray. And that’s remarkable because we’ve never run for political office before, and we’ve been at this for about 18 weeks. To have those kind of numbers is astounding.
Q: You have described yourself as “the common-sense business leader who’s not an idealogue.” You talk often about “lean thinking.” What do you mean by that?
A: We empower our people every day to eliminate waste and solve problems.
Our government is out of control. Their answer to everything is spending more money. The answer to a lean thinker is less money, taking money away and using your head, instead of your wallet. As a lean thinker, we say money suffocates creativity. We don’t have leaders who think this way.
Q: What makes you unique, different from the other candidates?
A: For one, I am actively creating manufacturing jobs in this state. I have a 13-year track record of doing that. None of the other candidates are doing that.
As an international businessman, I have traveled all over the world. I have been to over 40 countries and done business in over 40 countries. … I’m not bought and paid for by anyone. I’m not part of the establishment. I am an absolute outsider. I’m an authentic leader, not a phony, not someone looking out for their own interests. I am a very successful guy. I love my country. I care about my country, and I want my country to get back on track.
We need to be fiscally responsible. You can’t take the most successful, innovative, hard-working country in world history and literally destroy it with poor management and poor leadership. And that’s what’s happening. Clearly, we have incompetent leadership on both sides. And I’m not afraid to say that.
Q: Do you have a partisan message?
A: I don’t have a polarization message. I want great results. I want people to work together.
Q: How were you able to grow your own business?
A: You empower your people. You realize that people are the most important commodity. It’s not about money or your facilities, but it’s about people. I learned all this by listening to people smarter than me. I read a book a week … and I take the best practices, and I implement them every day. And again, that’s something that our current leadership is not doing.
Q: How can you help the small business owner here in Kirkland?
A: As a business owner, I know what it means to have a payroll and deal with these absolutely arduous regulations that are involved in Washington state. So when legislation comes across my desk, I am going to look at it and say, “How is this going to affect the small guy who has just opened a hamburger joint and wants to create jobs? Is it going to kill him or help him?”
I understand that the real individual who creates jobs is the small business, it’s not the federal government. Those jobs often produce nothing except regulations. … So I’m going to be very sensitive to over-regulation and heavy taxes.
Q: What would you do immediately if you were in office?
A: I have a plan called 10-3 Lean, which calls for cutting federal income taxes and spending across the board by 10 percent for three years straight, for a total reduction of costs and taxes of approximately 27 percent. … Just the 10-3 part would balance the budget in 2 1/2 years. And the lean? You could probably do it in a year and a half because the lean is going to shrink everything down. It’s also going to empower people to get involved in the process.
Q: What other changes would you like to make?
A: No. 1, we need term limits. We need two terms for every elected official. Two terms is all that anybody should ever serve at the federal level. I think this should be a job for people who want to serve, not to empower and aggrandize them.
I think tax reform is huge. The flat or fair tax, either one, will make a significant difference.
We also need a balanced-budget amendment. We need to operate from a position of strength.
Q: What about health care reform?
A: Health care is a total disaster and needs to be repealed.
The solutions are actually right in front of us, yet the government wants to be in control of it … so they can pay off their special interests. The answer is to give you and I the freedom to do what we need to do.