Last night, we received word from public-affairs consultant Bruce Gryniewski that Geoffrey "Mac" McElroy has declared his candidacy for the seat currently held by Rep. Sharon Nelson (D-Maury Island), who represents the state's 34th Legislative District, which encompasses West Seattle, White Center, Burien, and Vashon and Maury Islands. After imparting this news, Gryniewski, a Highland Park resident, likely raced to McElroy's White Center bar, Mac's Triangle (pictured here), where he's a regular. "Bruce is a good, solid customer," says McElroy.
If he gets elected to the statehouse, McElroy's already got a second job lined up -- behind his own bar.
A Navy vet running as an Independent, McElroy is intent on counteracting what he feels is divisiveness bred by the two-party system. The main planks of his platform have to do with education, small business, and transportation. A supporter of the tunnel replacement, McElroy is nonetheless chiefly concerned with how viaduct-related construction (and destruction) will impact the district he's aspiring to represent.
It's widely believed that Nelson will attempt to step up in rank in a preordained bid to fill the seat soon to be vacated by 34th District Sen. Joe McDermott (D-West Seattle), who will run for the King County Council seat once held by County Exec Dow Constantine, a West Seattle resident who enjoyed the exact same series of political promotions as McDermott stands to emulate should he win. While not having to run against an incumbent would certainly seem to bolster McElroy's prospects, it's precisely this sort of insider office-claiming that compelled McElroy to consider a run in the first place. (Update: Nelson just called to say, "I'm running for the Senate. I filed my C-1 with the public disclosure commission about two weeks ago." So McElroy's likely to be part of a crowded, incumbent-free field seeking an open seat.)
"When I signed up to do this, I was set to run against whoever was running, and the assumption at that point, back in November, was that it was probably going to be Sharon Nelson," says McElroy. "Part of my motivation for this was looking at a recent ballot and seeing Joe McDermott run unopposed. That basically offended my sensibilities. Then, when I found out about the Democratic shuffle, it seems to me that these folks are more interested in maintaining a power base here. When you've done your time and it's your turn and you're automaticaly ushered into the next level of politics, I don't think that's serving the system. It takes [voters'] power away."
Like any good bar owner, McElroy is supportive of legislation which would privatize the sale and distribution of liquor. "Back in the day, post-prohibition, when Washington decided to maintain control, it was based on blue laws -- trying to keep people's drinking under control. Those are all fine and good, but sociologically, we've passed that point," he explains. " I think there are some really important things government needs to be involved in, [but] for them to be involved in commerce and a state-run monopoly maybe doesn't make that much sense. From a free-market standpoint, empowering professionals in the beverage retail and marketing sector should create some added efficiencies."
McElroy's campaign kickoff party will be held this Friday at his bar (9454 Delridge Way SW), beginning at 7. He'll put out a complimentary spread, but VIPs will be the only ones likely to sample Mac's signature half-pound burgers free of charge. "Because the burgers are sort of time-intensive, I was just going to do wings and little smokies. But some people who are good customers might be able to get a burger thrown at them."