Mike McQuaid, briefly a Seattle City Council candidate
Publicity photo published by Mike McQuaid for his short lived city council campaign (Photo: Mike McMquaid for Seattle)

Coun­cil­member Tere­sa Mosque­da has once again become the sole can­di­date run­ning for one of Seat­tle’s two at large city coun­cil seats after her ini­tial oppo­nent Mike McQuaid decid­ed to drop out with­in days of hav­ing declared his candidacy.

McQuaid, a self-described “com­mu­ni­ty coun­cil leader and civic activist,” announced his chal­lenge to Mosque­da bare­ly a week before a series of embar­rass­ing rev­e­la­tions about past crim­i­nal behav­ior sur­faced, tor­pe­do­ing his bid.

Mike McQuaid, briefly a Seattle City Council candidate
Pub­lic­i­ty pho­to pub­lished by Mike McQuaid for his short lived city coun­cil cam­paign (Pho­to: Mike McMquaid for Seattle)

In a Feb­ru­ary 26th report by polit­i­cal reporter David Gut­man, The Seat­tle Times report­ed that McQuaid had been arrest­ed in 2015 for assault­ing a con­struc­tion work­er at a site near his con­do in West­lake. McQuaid had report­ed­ly argued with the man over some land­scap­ing, then threat­ened to head butt him.

Accord­ing to police reports, the sit­u­a­tion quick­ly dete­ri­o­rat­ed, with McQuaid pick­ing up a gas-pow­ered chop saw and threat­en­ing to decap­i­tate his foe.

When he couldn’t start the saw, he threw a rock at the man, injur­ing his low­er back. He then lied to the police when they arrived, claim­ing to be the vic­tim (despite wit­ness­es at the scene of the fight).

McQuaid lat­er agreed to a deferred pros­e­cu­tion and served a year of pro­ba­tion and twen­ty-four hours on a work crew.

The Times’ report led to court search­es by oth­er news orga­ni­za­tions and the pic­ture quick­ly got worse for McQuaid: the “com­mu­ni­ty leader” has a record of bad behav­ior going back to the 1990s, involv­ing assault, work­place sex­ism, a dodgy unem­ploy­ment claim, and even let­ting his dog bite someone!

While McQuaid was unlike­ly to prove a seri­ous chal­lenger to Coun­cil­member Mosque­da, Mosqueda’s sup­port­ers are like­ly to be pleased that she is once again unop­posed for the time being. Mosque­da has been one of the City Council’s lead­ing pro-work­er voic­es since her elec­tion to Posi­tion 8 in 2017.

Councilwoman Teresa Mosqueda takes her oath of office in 2017
Coun­cil­woman Tere­sa Mosque­da takes her oath of office in 2017 (Pho­to: Seat­tle City Coun­cil, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

In her capac­i­ty as bud­get chair, she has been instru­men­tal to the Council’s efforts to com­bat home­less­ness, tax large cor­po­ra­tions, reform the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment, and get haz­ard pay for gro­cery work­ers on the front lines of the pandemic.

By con­trast, McQuaid was a polit­i­cal blank slate.

His cam­paign web­site (which has been tak­en down) con­tained no spe­cif­ic vision for the city’s future – or even a cri­tique of Coun­cil­member Mosqueda’s record – instead focus­ing on his sta­tus as a fourth-gen­er­a­­tion Seattleite.

In inter­views, he refused to take stands on Seattle’s most press­ing issues, but did crit­i­cize the Council’s actions on haz­ard pay and the SPD as too radical.

His cam­paign was rem­i­nis­cent of a num­ber of coun­cil can­di­dates in 2019 who hoped that their bland­ness, helped by a flood of cam­paign cash from Ama­zon and its cor­po­rate allies, could sweep away left-lean­ing incum­bents that had been mak­ing life incon­ve­nient for the city’s mas­sive businesses.

These tac­tics did not work in 2019.

Vot­ers react­ed in dis­gust to Amazon’s attempt to buy the elec­tion and reject­ed all but two Ama­­zon-endorsed can­di­dates. How­ev­er, the city’s cor­po­rate inter­ests are doubt­less still look­ing for a way put pro-busi­­ness can­di­dates in any seat they can and McQuaid (who worked at Ama­zon for two years in the ear­ly 2000s) may have been hop­ing to gain the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty’s sup­port for his bid.

The impor­tance of the races for the City Council’s two open seats pales next to this year’s big prize: a dozen can­di­dates have already filed for the may­oral elec­tion to replace out­go­ing incum­bent Jen­ny Durkan.

With a num­ber of promi­nent activists and com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers in the mix, it is like­ly to be a ener­get­i­cal­ly con­test­ed race — one which we’ll be track­ing here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate as the year goes on.

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