Abigail Doerr, the campaign manager for Sound Transit 3 and 2018's carbon tax, announced Wednesday morning that she is running for King County Council in District 4, the only council district that is entirely inside of Seattle’s city limits. Doerr is 29 and somehow already has run a handful of initiative campaigns, including Sound Transit 3, last year’s failed carbon tax initiative, and 2014’s municipal transit funding initiative.
Doerr told me yesterday that she is running so she can bring new energy to the council and fight for progressive issues like protecting the environment, improving mass transit, reducing childcare costs, and reducing housing costs.
“King County has such an enormous role in our lives. They run our transit system, they have a key role in protecting the environment, and quite frankly no one really knows what’s going on at the county,” Doerr said. "It’s a branch of government that’s largely invisible to the public. I think the King County Council needs a fresh voice and new energy to fight for these issues that really matter to us.”
District 4 includes nearly all of Seattle that lies West of Interstate 5 and north of downtown's Madison Street, including the neighborhoods of Queen Anne, Magnolia, Ballard, Wallingford, Crown Hill, and Greenwood. The district is currently represented by Jeanne Kohl-Welles, who has been on the council since 2015. Before that, she served as both a state senator and representative. Kohl-Welles told me yesterday that she has not decided if she will seek reelection.
“I am still considering that. I love this job. I love being here. I just have a lot of things that I am considering,” Kohl-Welles said. “So stay tuned.”
Kohl-Welles said she expects to make an announcement about her reelection intentions by “mid to late March.”
Doerr said she "really admires" Kohl-Welles but she still felt the County Council needs new, younger energy. She said her perspective as a renter and transit user would be valuable on the council.
“I am turning 30 at the end of May and the average age at the King County Council right now is 60 years old,” Doerr said. “I think the king county council needs a fresh voice and new energy to fight for these issues that really matter to us.”
Doerr told me that she grew up in Spokane and moved to Seattle in 2011 and has since worked as a staffer for City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw and a handful of initiative campaigns. She was the campaign manager for a successful Seattle bus funding measure in 2014, the campaign manager for a successful Seattle parks funding measure in 2014, the campaign manager for Mass Transit Now which backed Sound Transit’s successful $54-billion funding package in 2016 the Sound Transit 3, and the campaign manager for Initiative 1631, 2018’s failed carbon tax initiative.
Doerr told me that even though 1631 failed to get enough statewide votes to win, her work on the campaign still shows her viability in Seattle. She said the initiative won over 70 percent of the votes in the council district she is running in and showed how she is able to bring people from different groups together.
“My skill set is in bringing unique coalitions together from labor, business, communities of color, environmental groups, to tribes... to solve some of our region’s biggest problems,” Doerr said.
Doerr said if she’s elected she would prioritize speeding up Sound Transit 3’s light rail projects, protecting the environment, and reducing the cost of childcare. She said she hopes a competitive election will remind people to pay attention to what the county government is doing.
“In King County Council districts in Seattle, there hasn’t been a competitive election in 16 years. I think that’s made the county disconnected to what real people are talking about,” Doerr said. “There’s a ton of engagement and light on the City Council and the county has such a huge role and it’s largely gone unnoticed.”
District 4 includes arguably some of the best parts of Seattle—is there any disagreement that Bigelow Ave N on the top of Queen Anne Hill is the nicest road in America?—so I had to ask her what her favorite things in the district are.
Favorite coffee shop? The Café Vita Fremont. “I don’t actually drink coffee though, I am a tea drinker.”
Favorite restaurant? “Mama’s Cantina in Belltown.”
Favorite Park? “Green Lake, of course!”