A Leading Question: Doug McQuaid and His Pivotal Moments
Editor's note: KPLU has asked all nine candidates in the Seattle mayoral race to tell us about a time when his or her leadership skills were put to the test. One candidate's answer follows.
For our interview at his West Seattle law office, Doug McQuaid wears jeans and a Hawaiian shirt and he sips a can of diet soda. (diet Dr. Pepper if you really want to know).
It’s like he’s trying to signal: I’m just a regular guy! Which is how the 68-year-old lawyer wants to be seen.
"Let’s judge him by his character rather than by what endorsements he has or how much money he has," McQuaid says.
For the record, he’s raised no money and he has zero major endorsements. His office is void of any self-referential campaign materials. The one thing that does stand out here is a huge wooden pig sculpture he bought at a fundraising auction for Pike Place Market. McQuaid owns several charity pig sculptures; they're all different. But this one's his favorite.
This is his second time running for public office: he ran unsuccessfully for state Supreme Court last year.
But McQuaid insists he’s a serious candidate: just a civic minded-citizen whose leadership was forged in 1969.
He was a 2nd year law student at Willamette University when he got drafted to Vietnam.
"And then I thought of all the reasons why I could have fled the country or come up with some phoney medical excuse and I said, 'Look, this is my country. I grew up here.' I had to go fight."
He spent 14 months in combat as both an infantryman attached to the 101st Airborne Unit and as a radio operator.
"The fact that I endured it has been a lifelong root spiritual principal in my life."
It was a time when his character was tested. When he saw his buddies die. And he learned all about juggling a huge amount of responsibility.
And then after he came home and finished law school, he actually almost chickened out when it came to starting his career.
"I never intended to practice law. I said, 'Oh man, that would make me nervous. I’d have to appear before people. And argue cases. That’s just not for me.'"
But a family friend ended up coaxing McQuaid to work on some law briefs. Then a small case. Then more and more complicated ones until his work ended up changing the law on something called a bill of laden, which is a type of shipping document.
"And I said, 'Man, I’m kind of a leader!'"
McQuaid’s been practicing law for more than 40 years, initially with Aiken, St. Lois & Siljeg in Seattle and then as a sole practitioner. He says his experience, along with his fierce independence and commitment to Seattle would serve him well in office.