Politics & Government

For Joyce McDonald, a lot comes down to independence – at home or in Scotland

Voters in Scotland are casting ballots Thursday on a historic referendum to make the nation independent from England and the United Kingdom, and the Scottish public is highly divided. So, it turns out, is Joyce McDonald’s family across the Atlantic.

“I would vote yes,’’ the Pierce County Council member and conservative Republican candidate for the U.S. House told The Olympian editorial board earlier this month. “I’ve got people [in my family] on both sides of the issue. I see it as a matter of self-determination. And I think there is no one that could make better decisions for the Scottish people than the Scottish people themselves. … It’s very foundational.’’

McDonald, who is challenging Democratic U.S. Rep. Denny Heck in the 10th district, said one of her brothers is against independence on grounds that socialists in the left-leaning country are working for it. On the other hand, a sister thinks it’s driven by conservatives.

It’s neither, says McDonald, who grew up in Greenoch, near Glasgow. She said that standing alone, Scotland would be one of the 15 richest nations.

McDonald, a naturalized U.S. citizen, immigrated to the U.S. in 1973 after marrying her husband, Gary, who was serving on a U.S. Navy nuclear sub tender that was stationed at Holy Loch in west-central Scotland, and they settled in Puyallup.

With polls showing Scots are divided, McDonald said, “My concern is it could fail simply because people do not feel comfortable enough to say, ‘we can do this.’ ”