Mac McGregor—a world martial arts champion, former small business owner, a speaker on diversity education and teacher of self-defense—said he decided after November: More diverse voices needed to be at the tables creating policy. He considered running for a state legislative position before deciding on the Seattle City Council Position 8 race.
"The last election really propelled me to say it's time," McGregor told PubliCola. "People like me are not going back to the shadows again."
McGregor, 52, would be the first known trans person elected on the city council and in the state. The Florida native sold his martial arts and personal training studio and moved to Seattle in 2008, where he was retired from his career as a professional female athlete and said he found support to pursue the medical part of his transition. McGregor continued to work as a defensive tactics instructor for law enforcement and teach self-defense at a sliding scale for all income levels.
He told PubliCola one of his priorities would be to fix the city's gender pay gap—a problem McGregor said he feels passionate about because of the sexism he experienced as an athlete—and wants an analysis of workers' pay and time in their positions at the city.
McGregor said he would want to be part of the public safety or civil rights committee. He wants to implement legislation that would require safe storage when purchasing a gun, evidence of safety training when openly carrying, and a gun buy-back program. On police reform, McGregor said the city needs to provide adequate resources for the police department and that every officer carry a Taser, provide more crisis intervention training, and specify that the city can't touch training programs during budget cuts.
"We ask a lot of our police officers. We want to be able to hold them accountable right? But if we don't give them the best training, we're putting them out there and holding them accountable in all this without all the tools for them to be successful in all that."
McGregor supports Grant's 25 percent target on required affordable housing and wants the city to enact impact fees on developers. He criticized the city's spending and said officials should be investing more on shelters, case workers, and housing-first approaches, though he didn't specify where he would see the money coming from. McGregor, who said his mother has borderline personality disorder, said he'd provide an important perspective on the council as someone who has family struggling with mental health. He would also be the only renter (along with Teresa Mosqueda) on the council if elected.
"I have probably a different understanding of the need to take care of mental health issues that our society tends to want to ignore," McGregor said. "Obviously we're seeing the results of that."
McGregor has raised little money ($7,000, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission) compared to other challengers, and he's never run for office before. McGregor said he's held tough positions—a trained and certified arbitrator for the Olympics—that give him the listening and evaluation skills he'd use on the council.
"My lack of political experience right now should be refreshing," he said. "I think we're tired of canned politicians who are bought by developers and who are in the pockets of big money, corporations. I think we're all really tired of that."