Likely general matchup: Jorge L Barón versus Sarah Reyneveld
The presumptive finalists in the contest for King County Council District #4: Jorge L Barón (left) and Sarah Reyneveld (right). Photos courtesy of the campaigns.

Next year, King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­ber Jeanne Kohl-Welles will retire after a long career in pub­lic ser­vice that includ­ed eight years on the Met­ro­pol­i­tan King Coun­ty Coun­cil rep­re­sent­ing Dis­trict Four, which encom­pass­es much of north­west Seat­tle. Three can­di­dates stepped up to run for Kohl-Welles’ posi­tion, all strong pro­gres­sive Democ­rats: Bec­ka John­son Poppe, Jorge L. Barón, and Sarah Reyneveld.

John­son Poppe, a bud­get and pol­i­cy man­ag­er for King Coun­ty, was endorsed by The Urban­ist, while Barón, a for­mer exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Immi­grant Rights Project, man­aged the rare and impres­sive feat of get­ting The Seat­tle Times and The Stranger to both back his candidacy.

Reyn­eveld, a man­ag­ing assist attor­ney gen­er­al, did not score those valu­able media endorse­ments, but did get the sup­port of the King Coun­ty Democ­rats, the Tran­sit Rid­ers Union, MLK Labor, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son and a major­i­ty of the incum­bent coun­ty councilmembers.

All three par­tic­i­pat­ed in a can­di­date forum host­ed by NPI last month.

Barón’s dual media endorse­ments appear to have giv­en him a big advan­tage in the ear­ly vote. He has 47.81%, which is near­ly a major­i­ty. Reyn­eveld is in sec­ond place, with 30.83%, and John­son Poppe is in third place with 20.13%.

Election night results

Jorge L BarónJorge L Barón

Non­par­ti­san | 15,946 votes

Sarah ReyneveldSarah Reyn­eveld

Non­par­ti­san | 10,283 votes

Becka Johnson PoppeBec­ka John­son Poppe

Non­par­ti­san | 6,714 votes


John­son Poppe’s vote deficit is 3,569, which will be extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to sur­mount in the late bal­lots. We’ll know more tomor­row, but it’s a good guess that the gen­er­al elec­tion is going to be a runoff between Barón and Reyneveld.

John­son Poppe was sup­port­ed by King Coun­ty Coun­cilmem­bers Clau­dia Bal­duc­ci and Joe McDer­mott, as well as sev­er­al state leg­is­la­tors from Seattle.

Her pri­or­i­ties were themed around what she called the “three E’s”: Envi­ron­ment, equi­ty, and econ­o­my. “Our region has enjoyed pros­per­i­ty, but that pros­per­i­ty has also left many of our neigh­bors behind,” her cam­paign web­site says. “I’m run­ning to cham­pi­on more hous­ing that’s afford­able for more peo­ple, fam­i­ly-sus­tain­ing wages, acces­si­ble child­care, and work­force devel­op­ment that pro­vides oppor­tu­ni­ty for com­mu­ni­ties his­tor­i­cal­ly exclud­ed and dis­en­fran­chised in our economy.”

Barón, the fron­trun­ner, sup­ports sim­i­lar pol­i­cy directions:

“My vision for King Coun­ty is ground­ed in the val­ue that our suc­cess as a com­mu­ni­ty depends on the well-being of every one of our neigh­bors. And my approach to pol­i­cy-mak­ing is cen­tered on the con­cept that those most direct­ly impact­ed by pub­lic poli­cies should be involved in the shap­ing of those policies.”

“There are two over­ar­ch­ing issues that inform how I plan to approach all pol­i­cy areas.  First, racial jus­tice. I rec­og­nize that so many of the chal­lenges we face as a coun­ty – and as a soci­ety – are dri­ven by the ongo­ing impact of sys­temic racism. I believe it is essen­tial to use a racial jus­tice lens when eval­u­at­ing poli­cies in all these issue areas. Sec­ond, I believe that we will not be able to make suf­fi­cient progress in any of these issue areas if we do not address the way that coun­ty ser­vices are fund­ed. It is essen­tial that we gen­er­ate new urgency to the work with state leg­is­la­tors to devel­op pro­gres­sive sources of rev­enue that will sup­port the invest­ments nec­es­sary to tack­le the chal­lenges in all of these areas.”

As does Reyneveld:

“Sarah is run­ning to bring her expe­ri­ence to move King Coun­ty for­ward and advance pro­gres­sive solu­tions that will meet the scale of the chal­lenges fac­ing our com­mu­ni­ty and region at this crit­i­cal time,” her web­site says.

“She believes that the best pub­lic pol­i­cy  cen­ters the com­mu­ni­ty and racial equi­ty, and ensures that peo­ple with lived expe­ri­ence who are clos­est to the issues dri­ve the solu­tions.  As a com­mu­ni­ty advo­cate and admit­ted pol­i­cy wonk, Sarah has worked with com­mu­ni­ties across King Coun­ty and Wash­ing­ton State to expand access to acces­si­ble and reli­able pub­lic tran­sit, pro­tect our envi­ron­ment, and invest in behav­ioral health, hous­ing, qual­i­ty child care, and pub­lic education.”

When these can­di­dates joined us to record an episode of Can­di­date Sound­ings last month, they were high­ly com­ple­men­tary towards each oth­er. If ever there was a mod­el field of can­di­dates, it would be this trio. They’re all high­ly qual­i­fied and very friend­ly. The vot­ers were for­tu­nate to have three out­stand­ing choic­es. Alas, only one of them can become the 4th Dis­tric­t’s next councilmember.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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