NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles confirms she’ll run for King County Council, District 4

This after­noon, State Sen­a­tor Jeanne Kohl-Welles made it offi­cial: She’s run­ning to suc­ceed Lar­ry Phillips as the coun­cilmem­ber for King Coun­ty’s 4th Dis­trict, which encom­pass­es neigh­bor­hoods on the Puget Sound side of North Seat­tle, includ­ing Bal­lard and Green­wood. And she is doing so with Phillips’ sup­port.

“It’s been an incred­i­ble priv­i­lege, hon­or and plea­sure rep­re­sent­ing my con­stituents for the last twen­ty-three years in Olympia in what has been the most sig­nif­i­cant work of my career,” Kohl-Welles said in a press release declar­ing her can­di­da­cy.

“Through­out my leg­isla­tive tenure, I have stead­fast­ly striv­en to be acces­si­ble, respon­sive and effec­tive,” she added. “I’ve con­sis­tent­ly worked col­lab­o­ra­tive­ly to achieve com­mon-sense solu­tions on very chal­leng­ing issues, while main­tain­ing strong Demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ples and val­ues.”

“I’ve fought for social jus­tice and eco­nom­ic equi­ty caus­es and have been a leader in advo­cat­ing on behalf of the safe­ty and well-being of chil­dren and vul­ner­a­ble adults; vic­tims of human traf­fick­ing, com­mer­cial sex­u­al exploita­tion of chil­dren, and domes­tic vio­lence; med­ical mar­i­jua­na reform; and for strate­gies address­ing home­less­ness, afford­able hous­ing, and dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

“On the King Coun­ty Coun­cil, I’ll bring forth the same val­ues and tack­le the same issues, as well as income inequal­i­ty, racial dis­pro­por­tion­al­i­ty in the crim­i­nal and juve­nile jus­tice sys­tems, envi­ron­men­tal sus­tain­abil­i­ty, and trans­porta­tion choic­es.”

In addi­tion to Phillips’ back­ing, Kohl-Welles has secured the endorse­ments of her seat­mates Reuven Car­lyle and Gael Tar­leton. (Full dis­clo­sure: Gael Tar­leton serves on the board of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute as Vice Pres­i­dent-Sec­re­tary).

Kohl-Welles had pre­vi­ous­ly dis­cussed run­ning for King Coun­ty Coun­cil with her sup­port­ers on Face­book.

“It’s hard for me to think of leav­ing the Sen­ate, but I believe that at this point in my career I would enjoy a new chal­lenge, as well as being clos­er to home among my con­stituents and in the com­mu­ni­ty on a year-round basis,” she wrote.

“And for­tu­nate­ly, I would have the same con­stituents as I have now in the 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict.” (The 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict and the 4th Coun­ty Coun­cil Dis­trict don’t have iden­ti­cal bound­aries, but they over­lap sig­nif­i­cant­ly.)

She went on to note:

I also would have a more imme­di­ate and local expe­ri­ence in work­ing on many of the issues that are so impor­tant to me, such as afford­able hous­ing and elim­i­nat­ing home­less­ness; eco­nom­ic and pay equi­ty and social jus­tice; anti-pover­ty and essen­tial ser­vices; expand­ing mul­ti-modal mobil­i­ty, includ­ing tran­sit; human traf­fick­ing and com­mer­cial child sex­u­al exploita­tion; juve­nile jus­tice and fos­ter care ser­vices; and med­ical and per­son­al use mar­i­jua­na legal­iza­tion.

And this is not a com­plete list.

I’ll be mak­ing my deci­sion with­in the next few days.

She’s now made her deci­sion: She’s run­ning.

Kohl-Welles, sev­en­ty-two, is such a for­mi­da­ble can­di­date that she may not have much com­pe­ti­tion for Phillips’ seat. She is beloved in the 36th Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict, as Reuven Car­lyle found out last year when he briefly flirt­ed with run­ning against Kohl-Welles. He ulti­mate­ly decid­ed to bow out and not chal­lenge her.

In ret­ro­spect, that was a very sen­si­ble deci­sion. If Kohl-Welles is suc­cess­ful in her cam­paign for coun­ty coun­cil, she will almost cer­tain­ly be resign­ing from the Leg­is­la­ture, and Car­lyle will be the heir appar­ent to her posi­tion in the Sen­ate.

To move over to the Sen­ate, he would have to give up his chair­man­ship of the House Finance Com­mit­tee… but on the plus side, he would­n’t have to run for reelec­tion every two years (state sen­a­tors serve four-year terms).

A move to the Sen­ate by Car­lyle would result in a wide-open vacan­cy for his House seat, which a lot of pro­gres­sive and Demo­c­ra­t­ic activists will undoubt­ed­ly be inter­est­ed in. When­ev­er a Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­isla­tive vacan­cy emerges in a Seat­tle dis­trict, there are almost always a pletho­ra of can­di­dates.

The precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers of the 36th LD, which include NPI’s Pres­i­dent, Robert Cruick­shank, may very well find them­selves del­uged with calls about eight months from now, because they’re the ones who would choose Kohl-Welles’ and Car­lyle’s suc­ces­sors, as pro­vid­ed by the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion.

The process is as fol­lows:

  • The Chair of the King Coun­ty Democ­rats, cur­rent­ly Rich Erwin, calls a meet­ing of the Demo­c­ra­t­ic precinct com­mit­tee offi­cers of the 36th LD to draw up a list of three names to fill each vacan­cy. This meet­ing is known as a spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus. Only PCOs elect­ed or appoint­ed to rep­re­sent precincts with­in the 36th LD may par­tic­i­pate in it as vot­ers.
  • The King Coun­ty Demo­c­ra­t­ic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee (KCDCC), or KCD­C­C’s exec­u­tive board, rat­i­fies the choic­es of the 36th LD’s PCOs and sub­mits them to the King Coun­ty Coun­cil for con­sid­er­a­tion.
  • The King Coun­ty Coun­cil must choose from among the three indi­vid­u­als select­ed by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty to fill each vacan­cy.
  • If they don’t make a selec­tion with­in six­ty days, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee makes the appoint­ment, again from the list of three names.

The 36th is whol­ly with­in the bound­aries of King Coun­ty, so the state par­ty would not be involved in call­ing the spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus or sub­mit­ting the names, as it was last year when there was a vacan­cy in the 30th. (The 30th is one of many joint leg­isla­tive dis­tricts split between the coun­ties).

The pro­ce­dures gov­ern­ing the spe­cial nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus are spelled out in the Wash­ing­ton State Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty’s bylaws and stand­ing rules.

Typ­i­cal­ly, when a nom­i­nat­ing cau­cus is held, PCOs vote on each of the slots in a series of sep­a­rate elec­tions. To elab­o­rate: PCOs first decide whose name should top the list, and then whose names appear sec­ond and third. Fol­low­ing this approach results in three elec­tions, often with mul­ti­ple rounds of vot­ing each.

Should Kohl-Welles and fel­low Demo­c­ra­t­ic can­di­date Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci (who is run­ning in the 6th Dis­trict) both win in Novem­ber, the King Coun­ty Coun­cil would have two Demo­c­ra­t­ic women on it begin­ning next Jan­u­ary. (Offi­cial­ly, the Coun­cil is non­par­ti­san, but there’s real­ly no such thing as a non­par­ti­san office.)

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2 Comments

  1. Kohl-Wells has been in the Sen­ate a long time, so join­ing the coun­cil make a lot of sense.

    # by Mike Barer :: April 9th, 2015 at 8:16 AM
  2. As long as Jeanne Kohl-Welles votes for a per­son­’s right to grow their own mar­i­jua­na at home I will vote for her.

    # by Matt Ryon :: April 9th, 2015 at 10:29 AM