King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles to retire after 30 years in office

It’s the end of an era for District 4: King County Councilmember Jeanne Kohl-Welles has announced she is retiring at the end of the year after 30 years in elected office.

Kohl-Welles announced the news in a letter to constituents yesterday, saying she does not plan to seek re-election and will step down at the end of 2023.

Kohl-Welles has been in her current position as representative for District 4, which includes most of Northwest Seattle—Belltown, Interbay, South Lake Union, Queen Anne, Ballard, Fremont, Magnolia, Phinney, Greenwood, and much of Green Lake—since 2016.

“I’ve loved serving on the Council. I’ve absolutely loved it,” Kohl-Welles said in a statement about her decision. “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’ elected career included successes including establishing more rigorous workplace harassment and discrimination policies, addressing human trafficking, working for tenants’ rights, and helping establish the new Regional Homelessness Authority.

Before serving on the King County Council, Kohl-Welles worked with the 36th District Democrats and the Queen Anne Community Council. The King County Council appointed Kohl-Welles to replace Larry Phillips in the state House of Representatives. She also served in the state Senate, where she tackled social justice issues including gender equity, early childhood education, and income inequality.

After two decades in the Senate, she ran for Larry Phillips’ seat in the King County Council in 2015.

“What really finally sold me on it was having something new but something that I understood,” she said in a statement about joining the Council. “And the thought that I could be more engaged with implementation, to really be able to effect change at the local level.”

As for her retirement, Kohl-Welles says she plans to spend more time with family, traveling, and perhaps authoring another book. She’ll continue to work with Win with Women, which is a PAC she cofounded to help progressive women get elected to the Washington State Legislature.

“Somewhere along the line, it occurred to me that this was my calling in life,” she said, “and it has been the greatest privilege to serve the many resilient, thoughtful, and engaged communities in District Four and the 36th Legislative District. I cannot thank my constituents enough for their faith in me.”