Nine candidates are vying to be Seattle mayor. Reporter Alexa Vaughn sat down recently with Doug McQuaid to let him introduce himself in his own words and tell voters what’s important to him. McQuaid has so far not participated in any mayoral candidate forums, but says he will start to in July. His answers have been edited for length.
Candidate Doug McQuaid: Mayoral race can prove private citizens have a voice
Seattle mayoral candidate Doug McQuaid hasn’t participated in any forums or campaign events so far. But the West Seattle lawyer says that’s going to change next month.
Occupation: Lawyer, private practice focused on personal injury, bankruptcy, wills
Education: B.A., Business Administration, University of Washington, 1967, Law Degree, Willamette University, 1972.
Military Experience: Served in the U.S. Army, January 1969-August 1971 (drafted out of law school).
Neighborhood: West Seattle
Hobbies: Gardening, genealogy
Q. Briefly describe your experience and how it prepares you to be mayor.
A. I have experience practicing law in Seattle for more than 40 years. I have handled every kind of case there is and many fairly complex cases where it required a lot of preparation and coordination with people, witnesses, business people and many appeals before the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. I was born in Seattle and have lived here my whole life. I just thought, as a private citizen of Seattle, I would put my name in and just see what I could do — and maybe inspire other people who are not professional politicians.
Q. How would you balance growth, quality of life and protecting single-family neighborhoods?
A. If there are projects that come along to improve living conditions by tearing down older houses and there is adequate parking, I have no problem with that. But there should be a better process of letting residents know what’s being built so they can object to it before it goes up. We should look at what’s best for people who already live there, not just developers.
I want to promote ways of providing affordable housing, helping homeless people and other down-and-out people. Some of the things we’ve done has had the opposite effect, such as the light rail in Rainier Valley.
Q. What would you do to ensure the Seattle Police Department has strong leadership and undertakes the work of reform?
A. I would do a search for a very strong leader who has a great deal of transparency. Our last permanent police chief just was not, in my opinion, the kind of person who would face up to problems, admit when there were problems and actually face the press and people of this city. We need people who want to fix problems and are willing to work very tirelessly and keep people informed on what’s going on with police. There are so many things going on behind the scenes at the Police Department, and they seem to try to cover it up. I want it all out in the open.
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. We might need to pass a new levy, but I think there’s an easier way. The mayor is only a leader — he doesn’t pass laws — so he needs to work with the City Council to try to identify those areas the city spends money that we can do without. In other words, prioritize. I think infrastructure has to come right at the top.
Q. What’s your strategy for getting through a crowded primary?
A. It’s like in a horse race when some unknown horse comes from behind and wins — that’s my only hope. Yup. I am behind and I’ll admit that — way behind, OK — but that doesn’t mean I’m not a serious candidate.
People forget what happened with the early [forums] and they start getting more serious as the election approaches. I’ve already announced I will participate in July. I’ll admit I probably won’t make it through the primary. My strategy is to put my name in and hope for the best but expect the worst. At least I proved a point by saying you don’t have to be a professional politician and you don’t have to raise a lot of money to run. Our society has gotten to a point where you have to buy elections, and that really irks me. I think you can be serious without raising the money — that’s one of the problems with government today.
Q. You say you spend hours a week helping people break harmful addictions. What would you do for them as mayor?
A. I spend many hours a week volunteering with the Greater Seattle group of Alcoholics Anonymous, and I conduct sessions three days a week at a treatment facility in West Seattle. I’ve met so many people who need drug treatment as a starting point, but they can’t afford it. I think treatment facilities should be made more readily available through a city-state partnership to make them more affordable.
Alexa Vaughn: 206-464-2515 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @AlexaVaughn.