A former Seattle LGBTQ Commissioner and diversity educator is hoping to become the first transgender member of the Seattle City Council.

Mac McGregor is seeking to fill the at-large seat currently held by outgoing incumbent Tim Burgess. 

McGregor, who moved to Seattle in 2008, said he has been thinking about running for office for the past couple of years and was waiting for the right time to do so. Inspired by President Barack Obama’s farewell address in January, which encouraged people to get involved in their communities and seek elected positions, that time had come. 

“I think because of what’s going on nationally, it’s time for a transgender candidate to run, because we’re not going to go back into the shadows again,” he said. “And I think that’s for all marginalized people. It’s time for those of us that feel safe enough, and that we can, to step forward more than ever.”

A run for city council, McGregor said, is a way to make a difference and give back to the community. When he was a kid, he found help from the community to be a critical source of stability. 

“If it wasn’t for coaches and teachers and community members stepping up to help me,” he said, “who knows what would have happened.”

As the head instructor for Social Outreach Seattle’s Self-Defense Academy, McGregor has taught classes on martial arts and wellness, in addition to self-defense. He also works as a life coach, personal trainer, and motivational speaker.  

When he travels across the country as a lecturer, he said, he often refers to Seattle as the “promised land.”

“As someone who came from the Bible Belt and went to a Southern Baptist high school and college, I can tell you this is the promised land in a lot of ways, for any of us that are a little different,” he said. In fact, where I came from, if you had a few tattoos and piercings, you’d have been an outcast.”

Despite the city’s progressive credential, he also believes there’s work to be done regarding issues of race, along with the gender pay gap. Aging infrastructure, and homelessness are other topics he wants to focus on. 

As his campaign ramps up, McGregor said he’s ready to meet with those that may be hostile to who he is. 

“Sometimes, in order to make change, I have to go to those places where it may not be that comfortable and people may just be offended by who I am,” he said. “They don’t know anything about me but the fact that I’m transgender, and that gets the hair standing up on the back of their neck, because they’re so afraid of that because they don’t understand it.”

Ultimately, he said he shares much more in common with people who may be quick to dismiss him, based on his identity. 

“We all want the same basic things, and if we forget about focusing on these little differences, and think about it, we actually have more in common than we do different,” he said. “But most people focus on that tiny little difference, and let that freak them out instead of going, ‘We’re all in the same boat, and need the same things in life.’”

Along with his perspective as a member of the LGBTQ community, McGregor also brings the view of a long-time small business owner. For more than 20 years, he operated a martial arts school and personal training studio in Florida. 

He also cited his training in conflict resolution and arbitration through his work as a competitor, coach, and referee as another element that sets him apart   

McGregor also plans to take part in the Democracy Voucher program. While he would have run without it, had it not been an option, he said it would have been much more difficult. 

“I think the voucher program was designed for a candidate like me — a grassroots candidate from a marginalized community — to be able to run,” he said. 

To learn more about McGregor’s campaign, visit www.votemacmcgregor.com