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caption: King County councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles stands for a portrait on Monday, October 28, 2019, in Seattle.
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King County councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles stands for a portrait on Monday, October 28, 2019, in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles will not run for re-election in 2023, plans to retire

After seven years on the King County Council, and many more as a state lawmaker, Jeanne Kohl-Welles is retiring.

“I’ve loved serving on the Council. I’ve absolutely loved it,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement. “But at some point, it’s time to pass the torch for others to get involved. My entire time in public office has been immensely gratifying; however, there’s a time for everything and I feel really good about this being the time to move on to something new.”

Kohl-Welles represents District 4, which covers much of northwest Seattle. She first came onto the county council in 2016. She entered politics in 1992 when she was elected to the state House. She went on to the state Senate in 1994.

The council member says she will finish her term through 2023, and then retire from the council. Kohl-Welles is currently pushing a ban on businesses going cashless in unincorporated King County. She argues the bill aims to help people "who do not have access to, or desire to use credit cards, debit cards, swiping their smartphones, who maybe they don't have them, are able to access needed food, consumer items and services."

In a letter to constituents, Kohl-Welles said that the decision to retire "did not come to me lightly," and that she is looking "forward to the next chapter of my life."

"It has been particularly important to me to work collaboratively in strengthening protections for the most vulnerable and marginalized in our communities, especially as income inequality, displacement, and homelessness have increased, as climate change has become increasingly threatening to us all, and as gun violence has become more frequent.

"As long as I have held elective office, I have worked to provide access to affordable, equitable and quality housing, child care, education, health care and a safe and secure life for all. And so important to me has been increasing access to arts, culture, heritage, and science programs and events, as well as an urgency in working on climate change and its effects on everything we all hold dear — our people, our environment, our natural resources, our society, and our planet!"

Her exit from the King County Council opens District 4 to a newcomer.

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