Mac McGregor, who would be the Seattle City Council’s first transgender member, is one of 10 people running for Position 8. Jon Grant has raised the most money so far.
“We’re not going back in the shadows.” That’s a message Mac McGregor wants to send with his campaign this year for Seattle City Council.
McGregor is trying to become the first transgender person elected to the council, and he believes he’d be the first elected anywhere in Washington state.
The 53-year-old, who sits on the Seattle Police Department’s LGBTQ Advisory Council and served on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, said November’s election motivated him to seek office.
McGregor said President Donald Trump’s “pretty extreme, religious-right administration” wants to roll back the clock on protections and acceptance of minorities.
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“They want us to be silent, but we’re not going to do it,” he said. “I’m going to stand for all marginalized people.”
The Beacon Hill resident is one of 10 candidates registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to run for Position 8.
Position 8 and Position 9, the council’s citywide seats, are up for election this year. The council’s seven district seats will be up in 2019.
Position 8 is an open seat because Councilmember Tim Burgess announced in December he would not seek re-election.
Other than McGregor, the candidates include former Tenants Union of Washington State executive director Jon Grant, local NAACP Vice PresidentSheley Secrest, Washington State Labor Council political director Teresa Mosqueda, and Washington State Human Rights Commission chair Charlene Strong.
Others are Ryan Asbert, who has promised to make council decisions based on a constituent-input app; Hisam Goueli, a Northwest Hospital doctor who wants to develop city-run health insurance; James Passey, who describes himself as a Libertarian; Rudy Pantoja, whose video-recorded interaction with a North Precinct police-station opponent at City Hall in August went viral; and Jenn Huff.
Grant’s campaign has raised the most money — nearly $76,000 — most of it through the city’s new democracy-vouchers program.
Mosqueda’s campaign has raised about $53,000 and Goueli more than $11,000. The other candidates have each raised less than $10,000.
The outcome of the Position 8 race could have a significant impact on Seattle politics: Burgess is one of the nonpartisan council’s longest-tenured members and is widely considered the most moderate voice on a panel of progressives.
McGregor is a former martial-arts competitor, coach and gym owner with “a black belt in 17 different styles.” He grew up in Florida in a “very dysfunctional family.”
“It was my community that stepped up and made a difference in my life … giving me rides to school events and making sure I had a sandwich,” he said. “That really taught me to give back to my community.”
The candidate, who lives with his wife and teenager, said he thought twice about launching a campaign, wondering whether someone might target his family.
“I’ve been pretty public about who I am for a while, but you put yourself under a different level of scrutiny running for office,” he said.
McGregor said he agrees with Mayor Ed Murray on many issues but believes the way the city has been carrying out evictions and cleanups of unauthorized homeless encampments hasn’t been fair.
“I understand it’s a complex problem. There’s no easy answer to the homeless issue we have in our city,” he said. “Even if we took everybody off the street who was there today and gave them housing, we’d have another homeless problem in six months.”
He said he’d like to see the city get community members more involved in cleaning up encampments.
“I’m a big community organizer and some groups are already starting to do it,” he said.
Other key issues for McGregor include police reform and the persistent gap in pay between men and women.
He said he helped develop training for the Seattle Police Department around interacting with transgender people.
McGregor said the city needs to “keep asking more” of developers in the creation of affordable housing so that teachers, nurses and police officers aren’t priced out.