Joey Gray goes for the opportunity in mayor's race

In a large field, a political newcomer sees a chance, and seizes it.
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Joey Gray discusses her mayoral campaign with the Crosscut editorial board

In a large field, a political newcomer sees a chance, and seizes it.

There are nine candidates running for Seattle's mayor. The 10th and potential frontrunner, Tim Burgess, dropped out because he wasn't sure he could win.

That told Joey Gray that she has a chance to survive the Aug. 6 primary. 

Gray is one of the primary's dark horses — hoping that nine different liberals will fragment Seattle's votes enough in a smallish turnout that someone outside of the frontrunners can make it to the final two. "The race is wide open," Gray told a group of Crosscut editors and writers Monday.

In electioneering shorthand, Gray, 46, is the candidate who plays and coaches Ultimate, what used to be called Ultimate Frisbee. She's the one who lives on a houseboat in Portage Bay. The librarian. The information technology expert. And she notes that she is one-quarter Native Canadian with Okanagan and Métis blood. And she's participated in both the Rotary Club and Occupy Seattle.

She sees the role of mayor as being a facilitator to bring others and their ideas together. "I don't have to come up with new ideas because there are so many out there," Gray said.  She stressed a theme of letting the best ideas to percolate up without regard of who submits them. This includes crediting her opponents with having some good ideas. She declined to say what ideas of her opponents are good.

Gray did not have specific projects in mind if she becomes mayor. "It's not like I need a mega-project to put my name on it," she said. She opposes the piping and shipping of tar sands oil from Alberta through Puget Sound and inland Salish Sea, believing that increased traffic creates a greater risk of a spill of a hard-to-clean-up type of oil. Gray believes Seattle can lead a push to find replacements for Alberta tar sands oil. She's also personally in touch with the local environmental concerns around transportation, having made it a practice to get around Seattle using all forms of transportation — scooter (she arrived on one), bikes, public transit and autos, through a car-sharing system.

Gender bias and human trafficking are also major issues for her.

Gray largely talked about providing a good and respectful atmosphere for others to do their work, to encourage input from all quarters, and to expand that climate to the rest of the city. "I really care about embedding social justice into our institutions," she said.

Gray believes her work and leadership experience, including as an information technology consultant for non-profit corporations and coordinating thousands of volunteers internationally in Ultimate events, would serve her well as mayor. She also has been a board member of the Cascade Bicycle Club, the Friends of Athletic Fields, DiscNW and the World Flying Disc Federation.

"I've got the skills we need in the mayor's office," Gray said. "I’ve done so much behind the scenes."

Enjoyed this story? You might also like:

"You sure you want to be mayor of Seattle?" by Knute Berger.


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About the Authors & Contributors

John Stang

John Stang

John Stang is a freelance writer who often covers state government and the environment. He can be reached on email at and on Twitter at @johnstang_8