Steve Shay
Independent candidate Geoffrey "Mac" McElroy runs against three Democrats for 34th District State House. He and four other Independent candidates created the "Declaration of Independents" to send a unified message to others fed up with the two-party system.

Local Independent candidate & four others announce "Declaration of Independents"

Ask Independent 34th District House of Representatives candidate Geoffrey "Mac" McElroy about Democrats and Republicans and he will tell you, "The party's over." McElroy has networked with four other Independent candidates running for the same office, but in different districts. The result is their "Declaration of Independents" website. While they have disparate views on some political issues, they are unified in what they cite as "special interest politics and the failure of the two-party system to represent voters."

In addition to McElroy, the others are Craig Mayberry of the 42nd District which includes Bellingham and rural areas eastward and north to the Canadian border, Ken Nichols of the 27th District, in Tacoma, Tim Sutinen of the 19th District with the Columbia River as its southern border, and the Pacific Ocean on its Western edge, and Rich Carson of the 18th District, just east of the 19th District. It includes Columbia, Clark, and Cowlitz counties. There are 98 races for House seats in Washington State.

McElroy is running against three Democrats, Joe Fitzgibbon, Michael Heavey, and Marcee Stone. No Republican is running.

"Running as an Independent is a double-edged sword," said McElroy, 46, of Arbor Heights who owns Mac’s Triangle Pub at Delridge and Roxbury. He earned his UW Masters Degree in business administration, spent 10 years in the Navy and served in Desert Storm and Desert Shield. He engaged in anti-submarine warfare and was a Naval instructor for three years.

"We have the ability to be self-determined, in terms of what we believe, and don't fit into a box," he said of the five candidates. "Well, that can be a detractor because you don't have the infrastructure that the established parities have or the same access to fundraising, which is fine.

"I had the idea with the Declaration to see why others put themselves in this position. I asked if they would be interested in having a discussion about why were running, and about what it means to be independent to each of them. We are not necessarily ideologically aligned, but let's see if we have some commonalities. They didn't know me or each other. I set up a conference call two weeks ago. It came out that some had more conservative or liberal demographics as their districts were clearly rural, or urban. But we agreed on two basic things. The two-party system is broken, and it has ceased to represent our constituency.

"We didn't feel represented. An awful lot of special interest groups in the two-party system don't necessarily serve our constituency. Look at the South Park Bridge, the CSO project (Combined Sewer OverFlow System planned for Lowman Beach Park), and Rapid Ride Fauntleroy. Local agencies are trying to mitigate for the people rather than ask the people first what they want. Citizens are really upset. Our whole system of government as I see it is a ground up deal, and the people effected should have a say. Unfortunately, it is front loaded with government plans, with public comment after the plan is in place. Our independent coalition sends a message to your party of choice by offering you a choice for the candidate you think is most effective.You don't have to choose between the lesser of two evils. That is the best way to insure accountability in both parties. The school districts, for instance, should focus on their primary customer which is the students, not the teachers and not the administrators. Being in government is not supposed to be easy. You are a servant of the public, not the other way around."

"My district is mostly Democratic," said Nichols of Tacoma who is running against four Democrats. "I offer an alternative as somebody who can work well with both sides, and reject bad ideas of both parties." Nichols has been Deputy Prosecutor for Pierce County for 10 years, and, prior to that, for Thurston County for 15 years. "In my personal view, the idea that government has all the answers simply doesn't work. I don't trust Democrats with the economy or budget.They have had this district for 40 years and I'm trying to offer an alternative. If you are an Independent, Republican, or Libertarian, I'm your guy and you'll have a voice."

"I run against two Republicans and two Democrats," said Mayberry. "The crowded field will be beneficial to me. I have run for office a couple of times, got good name recognition, and both parities know I'm level headed, while not into party politics. I'm fed up enough with political systems. A lot here are also fed up with both parties, and a high number think both parties are more interested in their party solutions than voters' solutions. This bodes well for us. I signed a pledge that says I will not take PAC money, and I have serious political concerns about candidates who have received as much as 90 percent of their funding from especial interest groups.

"It's about time that the legislature starts getting some Independent faces instead of the same old Democrats or Republicans," said Sutinen, who was born in Finland and moved here 18 years ago. He now lives in Longview, north of Vancouver, Wa. "This is a rural district where about two out of three people are Democrats. This state for sure is entirely run by the lobbyists who give the incumbents what they need. Then they come to sessions and back the lobbyists' bills. The end result is that we have a legislation to enrich the lobbyists rather than citizens, and they get preferential treatment over competition." Sutinen said he picked up the campaign slogan "Party Pooper" since he is of neither party. "I'm just having too much fun," he said.

Carson, who will run against four Republicans and one Democrat said he is an ancestor of Kit Carson, helped McElroy orchestrate the Declaration of Independents. He pointed out that there are more Independents statewide than this group of five. "The legal cutoff was June 11, so others filed after we organized," he said.

Independent candidates in Washington cannot just have “Independent” on the ballot next to their names. They must either choose “No party preference” or “Prefers Independent Party.” Most independent candidates went with the latter choice.

"I have a lot of libertarian ideas, but I don't have to buy into anybody's theory," said Carson. "I consider Democrats and Republicans huge mechanisms of social engineering. With me, voters are not buying a package of ideas. Republicans like to show that Democrats are socialists. On the other hand, Republicans have a huge social agenda, like opposing gay marriage, and stopping abortions. Both are social engineers by telling me what they want me to believe in. We five Independents all agree that we don't want them to tell us what to do. We don't want somebody looking over our shoulder to vote this way. Hell no we don't. All of us are united in that fact. We are Independent thinkers, and we're not playing the game. This is becoming the year of Independents. Candidates you thought were bulletproof have lost. Old-time party favorites are going down."

"I'm sort of an 'end of the day' kind of guy," said McElroy. "There is a difference between being a politician and being a leader. The politician polishes things over to mitigate political damage. In the case of the Gulf oil spill, for instance, there should have been at least the appearance of urgency by our politicians."

To see the Declaration of Independents website got to: www.WashingtonIndependents.com

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