Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Times reporter Jimmy Lovaas sat down recently with Joey Gray to let her introduce herself and tell voters what’s important to her. The answers have been edited for length.Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Times reporter Jimmy Lovaas sat down recently with Joey Gray to let her introduce herself and tell voters what’s important to her. The answers have been edited for length.
Consultant would seek to align resources with top problems
Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Times reporter Jimmy Lovaas sat down recently with Joey Gray to let her introduce herself and tell voters what’s important to her. The answers have been edited for length.
Occupation: Information systems consultant
Education: B.A. in International Studies (1991) and German Literature (1994), University of Washington; Masters in Library and Information Science (2003), University of Washington
Home neighborhood: Portage Bay (houseboat)
Hobbies: Bicycling, gardening, activism and advocacy for sports, bicycling and environmental causes
Candidate Doug McQuaid did not respond to requests to be interviewed.
Q: Briefly describe your experience and how it prepares you to be mayor.
A: I build and implement and plan information systems, mostly for nonprofit organizations. That means that the groups I work with have their data and their content distributed around the organization — different people are using it in different ways and they’re often not very well coordinated together. And so my job is to go into the organization, figure out what they really need to do, focus on their mission, and then help train them and set up systems so that they can use that information to further their mission without gridlock (and) without it getting in their way.
I also have a track record of transformative change with almost no resources in the traditional way. I led an international movement to implement mixed-gender sports ... and instigated world championships that have now been recognized by the International Olympic Committee — just this week — for gender balance and good governance. These are things I set in motion 15-20 years ago (and) worked passionately on. That foundation setting is the kind of thing I do with almost no money. No one would have ever believed that that was possible back then.
Q: How would you balance growth, quality of life and protecting single-family neighborhoods?
A: In principle, I’m strongly in favor of density. We need to reduce sprawl. We are doing that. Sprawl is one of the greatest problems in the Pacific Northwest — the deforestation and the paving-over of our habitat and our farmlands. However, we need to make sure that there are really good standards built into whatever we do, not only in terms of quality and design and arrangement, (but) that they’re built with people in mind, not profits.
Q: What would you do to ensure the Seattle Police Department has strong leadership and undertakes the work of reform?
A: The first, most important thing is to remove our public servants from the spotlight in the terms of political football. We need to let our professional staff in all departments do their work without worrying that anything they do on any given day is going to blow up in the newspaper. I just can’t imagine what it must be like to be a police officer, that’s going out and doing their job, and every day or every week is attacked in the paper. The ones that are doing the right things need to be just let to do that. We have some great public-safety issues to resolve — those are our problems, not each other — but I’ll tell you, I’ve also been on the front lines of the Occupy movement, and I’ve seen things that have been done wrong and I’m going to speak out strongly against those.
Q: Seattle has a $1.8 billion backlog in deferred transportation maintenance such as arterials and bridges. That’s despite passing a $365 million levy in 2006 that was meant to catch us up. How would you address that?
A: I would prioritize that issue over something like another mega-project stadium for professional sports. Top priority would be to focus our civic attention on the things that matter the most. We have extraordinary leaders, experts, academics and activists working on that already, and I would be able to align us.
Q: What’s your strategy for getting through a crowded primary?
A: This city is clearly looking for new leadership. The number of undecided voters is still very high for good reason. I have broad appeal. I grew up in a moderate Republican family, interned for a Democrat in D.C., was a delegate for Obama and I’m running as an independent. And I think that combination of moderate balance and fierce independence really stands out in a partisan crowd.
Q: You’re known as a big proponent of ultimate Frisbee. What’s been your experience with it?
A: I love the teamwork aspect of it. My first game was in 1985, and it’s a good story. I didn’t like it at all. And then I went out again in 1988 and was absolutely hooked. My friends and I formed a coed team and we started playing in men’s tournaments and discovered that this was happening all across the Northwest. We founded a tournament and invited our friends out to Redmond for a 10-team event. Teams showed up all the way from Calgary to Oregon, and that tournament grew into the largest annual ultimate tournament in the world of any gender configuration.
Joey Gray earned a Masters in Library and Information Science at the University of Washington. An earlier version of this story misstated the degree.