I'm worried about Mark Greene, the perennial candidate challenging Julie Wise for King County elections director.
As the SECB wrote in our endorsements, Wise is doing a great job expanding access to the vote all over King County, and Greene is doing a great job losing elections for every major office in the state.
Greene told the Seattle Times that the photos are part of his strategy of trying to "reach out to the younger voters.” But, um, well, please follow me on this journey.
On his website and on social media, Greene variously refers to "Obe" as his "woman [girl] friend," his "most prominent campaign website woman," his "angel," and a "beautiful as well as a great person." In an August blog post celebrating their alleged "15-month-friendship," Greene said his "campaign wouldn't be the same without her."
But a little Googling reveals that the person plastered all over his website is a Russian fashion model named Elena Serebriakova. The photos Greene uses on his website appear to come from her VKontakte page, which is basically Russian Facebook. Looking through her location tags on Instagram, the social media platform she uses to thoroughly document her travels, she doesn’t seem to have ever visited the Pacific Northwest.
Serebriakova hasn't responded to requests for comment through her modeling agencies or social media feeds.
It is conceivable that a very young Russian fashion model has taken some legitimate interest in Greene's campaign for King County elections director, and that she also shares his dream of lowering the voting age in the county to 16.
Greene is, after all, Facebook friends with Elen Obron, which is the name Serebriakova uses as her handle on that website and on Instagram. He's also Facebook friends with a number of young, Russian fashion models who resemble Serebriakova. (In fact, he appears to be Facebook friends only with Russian models, and Mark Zuckerberg.) Maybe he's got a whole crew of politically engaged Russian models dedicated to advancing the cause of small-D democracy right here in our region. Over the years, several Russians have taken interest in United States elections, so it's possible Serebriakova has caught that fever.
It's also possible that Greene is being catfished. Or that he's fabricating support from a young model for political gain.
But it's hard to tell. In emails, Greene hasn't been forthcoming about his connection to Serebriakova. I've asked him for any proof that he's contacted her, but he has refused to provide any. He has only said he is "in communication with Obe," and that "everything" on his websites is "technically true." He's confident there is "no chance" he's being catfished. "I'm in love with her," he said. He added that his confidence in her identity stems from the fact that "her pen name and real name are together," and that he doesn't at all approve of The Stranger getting into his personal life, which he claims "has nothing to do with the election or politics in general."
If Greene is using a young woman from Russia as a campaign mascot without her permission, I would argue that it does have a lot to do with the election, but maybe that's just me! In any event, I'll update this post if I hear back from Serebriakova. In the meantime, ballots are out! Vote Wise.