JASON RANTZ

Mac McGregor: Potentially making history, and beyond

Feb 8, 2017, 6:51 AM | Updated: 8:44 am

mcgregor, mac...

Mac McGregor is running for the Seattle City Council's 8th District seat. (Jason Rantz, KIRO Radio)

(Jason Rantz, KIRO Radio)

Mac McGregor is running for the Seattle City Council’s 8th District seat. It’s an at-large position being vacated by current Councilmember Tim Burgess. And if he is elected it will make history, as McGregor would be the first openly transgender person elected to the city council.

It’s a point that he’s noticed seems to resonate more with people he’s interacted with while gathering signatures to get on the ballot.

“I’m a candidate who happens to be transgender,” McGregor told KIRO Radio’s Jason and Burns Show.

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“Some political advisers were telling me, in Seattle, it’s about who is the most left – where you are on that left side,” he said. “… you have to do some things to differentiate yourself. I think being transgender is a plus in that way … I’ve been doing things the old-fashioned way. You either choose to pay a filing fee when you run for office in May. Or you get enough signatures from Seattle voters. I’ve been doing the signature route, going to events and getting signatures.”

And when he and his wife are out gathering those signatures, he is upfront about who he is as a transgender man.

“It’s really interesting to talk to people in this city, and it’s only because it’s Seattle, almost the only thing I have to say to get them to sign, or my wife has to do to get them to sign, is to say, ‘He’s the first transgender person running …’ and I have so many people that say, ‘Don’t say anything else, I’ll sign,’” McGregor said.

“In one way it’s encouraging,” he said. “Because there’s not a lot of places in the world you can go and feel that people just want to be that supportive of somebody that’s different. My community, the transgender community, is an extremely small part of the community.”

“But I do like when they ask questions afterward,” he added.

Mac McGregor and the issues

As a transgender man, McGregor notes he has insight into marginalized communities, with a unique view on issues such as sexism.

“I’ve experienced what the world viewed me as a female business owner for many years, and a champion athlete, as a female athlete,” he said. “I’ve experienced those things. The gender pay gap affects women and gender non-conforming people across the board.”

McGregor is a US karate team champion.

But he likes to talk about the other things he’s passionate about with voters — those “questions afterward.” If there was one thing he’d like to focus on, it’s to be an advocate for local small businesses. McGregor was a small business owner for 23 years in Florida before he moved to the Northwest.

“(Small businesses) struggle,” he said. “The fees are very high. Even if you are in a low-income area of town, they are given no breaks, which I would like to see us do as a city. It helps lift that area up, it helps reduce crime in that area, it does a lot of great things for a neighborhood. And we are giving no breaks to marginalized people who own small businesses.”

He would lessen fees on small businesses. Beyond business, there are other issues that McGregor commented on while chatting with Jason and Burns.

Drugs and the proposed safe injection sites

I can see the benefit of it because the drug problem is just out of hand. To make it safer in any way, it’s going to end up costing our city less in emergency room visits, and costs for police and fire. I think it will end up saving us money and be safer overall. I just think it has to be managed tightly.

Homelessness

McGregor has volunteered to put together tiny house villages in Seattle. They are used to house the homeless and provide some sense of stability while putting a life back together.

It’s working very well. I’ll be volunteering at the one in Georgetown. I’d like us to do more of that because we don’t have enough right now to reach everybody who needs it … There are two different types of homeless. There’s a person going through a hard time and is maybe homeless for a few months or a year and then they get back on their feet. Then there’s the chronic homeless. With the chronic homeless we need to have a housing-first mentality. It’s difficult to sell because it means they are never going to get off substance abuse unless they have a place to live. You give them housing, not ‘You can only live here if you are drug or alcohol-free.’ That doesn’t work, statistically. Salt Lake City is doing this and it’s working very well.

Traffic

McGregor points to projects such as Challenge Seattle, spearheaded by former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire. It brings together the region’s business community to find solutions to traffic problems. Those businesses include the Microsoft, REI, Boeing, Amazon, Costco, and Starbucks to name just a few. The University of Washington is also a partner.

It’s partnerships like that which McGregor favors in finding solutions to traffic woes.

Bikes and Seattle

I want bikers to be safe. I think bike lanes are great. Should we be doing more of that at this time? Probably not. Because (bike ridership) has dropped, and we are so congested … The bike lanes we have downtown are great and are needed. But at this point, I wouldn’t go any further with it.

A new Seattle sports arena?

I think I would lean toward the KeyArena plan, actually. For one thing, I don’t think it would interrupt small business as much, or traffic. With that spot already being what it is, if you rebuild, that area is already ready for that … I haven’t looked at all the details of both plans. I’ve been to games at the KeyArena and events at the KeyArena. I’ve found parking. It’s not easy, especially if you go late. But I’ve had no problem with parking.

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Mac McGregor: Potentially making history, and beyond