The race is on for the “Unofficial Official Mayor of White Center.” The campaign is part of a fundraiser organized by Sara Green Williams and Oliver Little, who dreamed up the idea to benefit Jubilee Days, an event they are co-producing.
Do you have what it takes to be mayor of White Center?
By Lindsay Peyton
The race is on for the “Unofficial Official Mayor of White Center” – a position that’s part April Fools spoof and part serious fun.
There are already five opponents running for the position – Donnie McDermott, Christine Spencer, Justin Cline, Brian Cooper and canine candidate Floyd Dog. Nominations will be accepted through Saturday, April 1.
The candidates are campaigning with serious promises like Cooper’s intentions to add murals to the neighborhood and Spencer’s desire to bring a needle exchange program to the area to reduce transmission of disease.
There are also more fanciful campaigns, like McDermott’s pledge to build a monorail from the Triangle Tavern to Taradise and create floating bubble cars for White Center residents. Cline says he will pave the streets with ice cream and replace traffic lights with pinball machines, returning “Rat City to the former glory it never had.”
It’s hard to get a word out of Floyd Dog – but is an active member of the community – and a regular participant of the White Center 5K.
Hijinks and hilarity are all part of the game, Sara Green Williams and Oliver Little explained. The two friends and business partners dreamed up the idea of a mayoral campaign as part of a fundraiser they are co-producing, benefitting Jubilee Days.
“We were just kind of spit-balling ideas,” Williams said. “We thought, ‘We’ve got to have someone in charge of White Center.’ It snowballed from there.”
Julie Hiatt, board president for Jubilee Days, said the idea about a mayoral race appealed to her immediately.
“We don’t have a mayor in White Center, because we’re not a city,” she said. “It’s a fictitious position. People who live here have our own identity – but we don’t have a leader. So we thought this would be a lot of fun.”
Williams said that “votes” are made by donating a minimum of $10 to the cause – and funds will be collected up until the fundraiser event, slated for 6 p.m. to midnight on Saturday, April 1 at the White Center Eagles Hall, 10452 15th Ave SW. Tickets are $35 per person and available on www.jubileedays.org.
The evening will include a prime rib dinner, silent auction and a moderated, mayoral debate.
Williams said the outcome will be entertaining. “This race could be stolen at any moment,” she said. “It could go in any direction. It’s going to be really fun to watch the candidates square off in the last couple of hours.”
Candidates will also have enjoy opportunities to schmooze their constituents.
“They will have a chance for a last push at the benefit to get votes,” Williams said. “In the meantime, candidates are welcome to pass the hat -- and do whatever shady things they have to do -- to get donations.”
The elected mayor will be the candidate with the most dollars raised in his or her name and will serve a "term" of one year. The winner will be announced during the dinner.
Throughout the year, the mayor will have many important duties – like riding in the Jubilee Days parade, appearing at business openings, serving as an ambassador at social events and flipping the switch at the annual tree-lighting ceremony.
“Once we get the mayor, we’ll start coming up with stuff for him to do,” Little said.
He added that the mayor will have already helped White Center by raising funds for Jubilee Days. “It’s a good way to support the festival,” he said. “We’re presenting several opportunities to get involved.”
Little explained that vendors, participants, donors and volunteers may sign up now to be a part of the festivities.
Williams explained that Jubilee Days has been a cornerstone event for White Center.
“Jubilee Days has been a festival in this area in one form or another since 1923,” she said.
This year’s event is slated for July 19 through July 23 – and will include a carnival, car show, main stage, beer garden, kids area, community performance stage, food court, parade and fireworks show.
“We want to show off what we have here,” Williams said.
Little said the event has a hometown carnival feel. “The most important thing is getting people talking about it, and getting people involved in it,” he said. “That’s how we make a better event. It’s really a party for the neighborhood. This is the neighborhood’s big summer fest and we want everyone to be included.”
He said that area businesses will also be involved. “You’re seeing this resurgence in the business community here,” he said. “People are breathing life into the area. There’s a lot of pride in White Center.”
LIttle said to find a festival with carnival rides usually requires a long drive away from Seattle.
“It’s a county fair that you just can’t get around here,” he said. “This is a hometown festival.”
Hiatt said that the festival will expand this year to include both 16 and 17th Avenues.
“We’re hoping to bring Jubilee Days to a whole new level,” she said. “We want it to be something everyone can be proud of and that we all can participate in. We want to capture the flavor of White Center – and celebrate who we are.”
Williams hopes the mayoral race becomes an annual tradition to kick-off the festival – and that the community comes out for this inaugural fundraising event.
“You can watch White Center history unfold in front of you – and be a part of it,” she said.
To cast a vote –or become a candidate – visit http://jubileedays.org/white-center-events/elect-the-mayor-of-white-center/. Follow the drama of the election on Facebook.