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.
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.
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.