Meet Federal Way school board candidate Hiroshi Eto

Hiroshi Eto - Contributed
Hiroshi Eto
— image credit: Contributed

After three days of posting the applications for the Federal Way Public Schools board of directors vacant position to the district website, the board narrowed the 12 eligibles down to five.

The District 5 board position became vacant after former board director Tony Moore resigned because he was convicted of felony theft last month.

Debra Stenberg, district spokeswoman, said legally the board can discuss qualifications of candidates for appointment to elective office in an executive session, however, no decisions or votes can be cast.

“Our legal counsel indicated that the best approach for narrowing the field is to discuss in executive session, then have a motion in open session to invite five for interviews,” Stenberg wrote in an email.

The five include Jeremy Cucco, Hiroshi Eto, Shelley Ko, Tanaya Lanning and Richard Champion.

After the executive session on May 22 at a regular meeting, board director Danny Peterson made a motion to move the five candidates, which was seconded by board vice president Geoffery McAnalloy.

Stenberg said the meeting’s notice was posted within 24 hours, the minimum requirement per state law, on the district’s website. The five applicants will be publicly interviewed on June 3, with a final decision expected on June 24 - to be announced at a public meeting.

The Mirror spoke with all five candidates. Here is more information about Hiroshi Eto:

Hiroshi Eto

Background: Although Eto has owned a house in Federal Way since 1988, Eto and his wife moved back in 2012 after being out of state since 1997. Eto is now retired after serving 34 years of civil service with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

In 1979, Eto graduated from the University of California with a bachelor’s degree in engineering and later earned his master’s degree in civil engineering from California State University. Eto’s two adult children both attended Federal Way’s Mark Twain, Sherwood Forest and Green Gables elementary schools.

Experience: While Eto fully understands the value of education and diversity — he’s helped coach wrestling and baseball at his children’s Department of Defense Schools at Camp Zama, Japan — he believes his skills in budget planning and setting goals in policy and operations can be extended to the board’s expenditure review.

“As a civil engineer, we don’t create problems, we solve them,” he said, noting that he’s never worked in the school district or taught but that his knowledge could be transferred over to the position.

Eto received leadership training as a civilian member of the U.S. Army, which helped form his ability to work with diverse teams and “maximize results from the talents they possessed.” That training came through internships and courses at the Seattle Antioch University and Gallup Leadership Institute in Nebraska. Additionally, Eto has attended the Army’s Organizational Leadership for Executives training in Pusan, Korea.

“I oversaw the regional civil and military construction programs that totaled $2 billion in value with the district offices in Chicago, Detroit, Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Louisville and Huntington,” Eto wrote in his application regarding his final assignment as the director of programs for the Great Lakes and Ohio River Division in Ohio.

School district improvements: Eto said the board’s main focus is to ensure kids in the district are college-ready upon graduation. He recalls top graduates of the Federal Way school system stating they felt unprepared in college compared to their peers.

“It’s all about getting good outcomes for the kids … We did live here for 10 years and I think it gave our kids a great start,” Eto said, adding that both his son and daughter have attended universities.


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