Liberals fighting liberals. So what does it matter? This year’s race for Seattle mayor, featuring nine candidates, including some big leaguers like former city council president Peter Steinbrueck, state senate Democratic leader Ed Murray, and the controversial incumbent mayor himself, Mike McGinn, is actually loaded with nuance. 

With Seattle at a crossroads between fully embracing urbanism or trying to moderate growth, big questions about the city’s place in the region, state, and even the international stage, hang in the balance. In addition to urgent issues over police reform and quality schools, this is an election about defining themes such as the regionalism espoused by Senator Murray or the partisan allegiance to Seattle interests pushed by Mayor McGinn. We’ve interviewed the candidates about everything from their takes on South Lake Union to their favorite political movies. The primary election is coming up on August 6, and we hope the answers help you decide who should lead the way.

Mike McGinn

Ed Murray

Joey Gray

Bruce Harrell

Doug McQuaid

Kate Martin

Charlie Staadecker

Peter Steinbrueck

Mary Martin

Quiz: Who Said It?


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Mike McGinn

CURRENT JOB Seattle mayor

UNIVERSITY Williams College, Williamstown, Massachusetts, Economics; University of Washington School of Law

LIVES IN Greenwood

AGE 53

BASE Developers and bicyclists who, despite McGinn’s flagging polling numbers, are clinging to him as the only real urbanist in the race. To pull it out, McGinn needs to portray his bad numbers as a mainstream plot against him and energize his base in a fight to the finish.

DEFINING ISSUE The police force is under a consent decree with the Department of Justice over alleged police misconduct, which finally overshadowed McGinn’s obsession with stopping the downtown tunnel.

CAMPAIGN TRAIL BRAG Gets things done

REALITY CHECK Ongoing tensions with the city council have made getting things done a lot harder.

SO SEATTLE Bikes to work; started Great City, a green nonprofit, after heading the local Sierra Club

Not so seattle Loves a good political brawl

hidden talent Smokin’ lefty layup, cooking for a crowd

PATH TO VICTORY Sit back and let his opponents knock each other out of the race

If Elected, Most Likely to… Blame the council for gridlock at city hall

# of Facebook likes: 2,629

 # of Twitter followers 1,936 @michaelmcginn


Ed Murray

Current Job State senator, Democratic minority leader

age 58

high school Timberline High School, Lacey, Washington

university University of Portland, Sociology

lives in Capitol Hill

Campaign Trail Brag More collaborative than McGinn

reality check After being elected majority leader of the senate, his Democratic coalition fell apart when two conservative Democrats joined a new Republican coalition.

defining issue Passing gay marriage.

base The LGBT community. Murray has an impressive record as a state legislator that extends beyond gay rights, such as passing a major transportation package, making him the grownup candidate that voters may be longing for after years of McGinn.

If Elected, Most Likely to… Mend fences between Seattle and Olympia

hidden talent Writes poetry

so seattle Gay; has a “shoe-free home”

not so seattle Attends Mass most Sundays

PATH TO VICTORY Steal McGinn’s liberal base (and add a few respectable suits into the mix)

# of Facebook likes 1,096

# of Twitter followers  282 @edmurray4mayor


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Joey Gray

Current Job IT consultant for Puget Sound nonprofits

age 46

lives in A houseboat on Portage Bay

high school North Thurston High School, Lacey, Washington

university University of Washington, German Literature and International Studies; Master’s in Library and Information Science

so seattle Lives on a houseboat

not so seattle Welcomes conflict

defining issue She has been active in various environmental movements and believes current politicians aren’t doing enough to address environmental issues.

hidden talent Ultimate Frisbee fanatic; cofounded the local DiscNW and directed national UF association USA Ultimate

If Elected, Most Likely to… Prioritize environmental stewardship and policies that encourage gender equity

Base As an advocate for gender equity, specifically gender pay equity, Gray hopes to gain interested voters who are concerned with equal opportunity. 

# of Twitter followers  5 @votejoeygray

# of Facebook likes 116



Bruce Harrell

Current Job Seattle City Council member

age 54

high school Garfield High School, Valedictorian

university University of Washington, Political Science; UW School of Law

defining issue Race and social justice

so seattle UW inside linebacker, Rose Bowl champion over Michigan in 1978

not so seattle Wears cufflinks

Campaign Trail Brag Unlike McGinn, “I come up with creative solutions.”

reality check The highest-profile of those solutions, body cameras for cops, has gone nowhere.

hidden talent Finding bargains at estate sales

PATH TO VICTORY Paint Mayor McGinn as a white, kale-munching, Greenwood chicken owner

base An odd combination of social justice liberals, minority communities, and rich business people. As the only person of color in the race, Harrell, who’s talking a lot about social justice on the campaign trail, is a passionate, smart, and witty speaker. He could try to frame urbanist McGinn as a privileged yuppie, but Harrell’s wealth and frat boy conservative streak undermine the lefty assault. 

If Elected, Most Likely to… Revamp and expand the city’s moribund free Wi-Fi system

# of Twitter followers 126 @bruceformayor

# of Facebook likes 1,070


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Doug McQuaid

Current Job Attorney

age 68

university University of Washington, Business Administration and Finance; Willamette University College of Law

lives Somewhere in King County

defining issue A mystery; ranked “unqualified” by Justice for Washington when he ran for state supreme court last year

Campaign Trail Brag None. He doesn’t campaign and didn’t return calls. 

hidden talent ...

Base ...


If Elected, Most Likely to … 

# of Facebook likes ...

Website ...

Kate Martin

Current Job Landscape designer, Kate Martin Design

age 55

lives in Greenwood

high school Tunkhannock Area High School, Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania

university State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry, Landscape Architecture

so seattle Built a skate park for her kids in her front yard

not so seattle Doesn’t support affirmative action

defining issue A conservative on fiscal issues and a liberal on social issues

hidden talent Country singer and songwriter

PATH TO VICTORY None, but she may pick up some women’s votes as the highest-profile woman in the race

Campaign Trail Brag Got more than 70,000 votes in her 2011 race for school board

reality check Lost that race by more than 8,000 votes

Base Her Greenwood neighbors

If Elected, Most Likely to… Launch her mayoral term with a white paper on the need to match infrastructure to growth

# of Twitter followers  43 @tweetsfromkate

# of Facebook Likes 222 


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Charlie Staadecker

Current Job Owner, Staadecker Real Estate

age 70

university U Penn Wharton School,  Economics

high school Franklin High School

defining issue Unlike the current mayor, he won’t be divisive.

lives in Downtown Seattle

Campaign Trail Brag For a political unknown, he’s raised a ton of money.

reality check That money all comes from his wealthy friends.

If Elected, Most Likely to… Lower parking rates

hidden talent Has a huge watch and bow tie collection

PATH TO VICTORY None, but he might get some support from voters charmed by his genteel, grandfatherly schtick

so seattle He’s unwaveringly nice.

not so seattle He wears a bow tie.

Base His wealthy friends

# of Twitter followers 41 @charlieformayor

# of Facebook likes 188


Peter Steinbrueck

Current Job Founder and principal, Steinbrueck Urban Strategies

age 55

high school Lakeside School

university Bowdoin College, Government; UW, Master’s in Architecture

lives in Ravenna

defining issue Opposition to a new SoDo arena; historical preservation

Campaign Trail Brag He’s the true urbanist in the race.

reality check He supported taller buildings downtown as a council member, but opposed them recently in South Lake Union.

so seattle His name is synonymous with Pike Place Market.

not so seattle He’s actually from here.

If Elected, Most Likely to… Push for hiring more cops.

hidden talent Makes a mean pizza

Base Lesser Seattle diehards. Steinbrueck is banking on his iconic name and the top issues of the older, crankier voters his name is iconic with (i.e., preserving Seattle’s ’70s neighborhood vibe) to instigate a battle for Seattle with McGinn.

# of Twitter followers 75 @peterforseattle

# of Facebook likes 420


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Mary Martin

Current Job Factory production worker in the food industry

age 60

lives in West Seattle

high school Herschel V. Jenkins High School, Savannah

university Georgia State University, Atlanta

hidden talent The mayoral candidates should really address the worst economic crisis for the working classes since the 1930s. It’s not of our making but it’s on our backs. I think that these kind of questions really keep the whole discussion on a nonserious level, and part of it is because the candidates of the Democratic and Republican parties have no serious answers to the crisis facing working people.

Campaign Trail Brag Her “top advisors” are Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Malcolm X, and Fidel Castro.

reality check This is the twenty-first century.

defining issue Overthrowing capitalism

Base Textile workers in Bangladesh, the Populist movement of the 1890s

PATH TO VICTORY Workers rise up and realize the folly of capitalism.

so seattle She’s a Socialist.

not so seattle She really means it.

If Elected, Most Likely to… Nationalize Starbucks

# of Twitter followers  N/A

# of Facebook likes  N/A


Quiz: Who Said It? 

A) “I want to be the mayor that turns this police department around, that more than any other issue affecting me…the problem of the police department can’t be put simply at the foot of the current mayor. We need a change of leadership.”

B)                .”

C) “The highest social justice you can do for an individual and a family is to provide jobs for the parents.”

D) “I don’t think that a lifetime of civic involvement, activism, and commitment to public life just simply vanishes because I’ve been out of office for five years.”

E) “I do not need to teach another African American boy to play basketball. What I do need is to have an African American teacher who can talk to that kid.”

F) “I’m a policy wonk, I’m a business wonk, but I’m also kind of a visionary.”

G) “What made me run, and what made me think about it, was the ability to get things done.”

H) “We present immediate demands for the relief of the working class and also a long-term program in order for workers to take power out of the hands of the capitalist class of this country.”

I) “Enacting more ways to mitigate climate change and better steward our natural and built environments has implications for virtually every public policy decision that Seattle makes.”

KEY: (A) Ed Murray, (B) Doug McQuaid, (C) Charlie Staadecker, (D) Peter Steinbrueck, (E) Bruce Harrell, (F) Kate Martin, (G) Mike McGinn, (H) Mary Martin, (I) Joey Gray

Published: July 2013

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