King County elections are not usually very sexy, says Abigail Doerr, who believes that’s partly because competition is fairly sparse.

The 30-year-old transit wonk aims to change that with her bid for Jeanne Kohl-Welles’ District 4 county council seat. Issues she wants to better address include improving public transportation, boosting affordable housing and unburdening parents dealing with the high cost of child care.

Doerr tells Queen Anne News the average age on the King County Council is 60, and the decisions being made by the governing body have long-lasting impacts for her generation.

“I think our voice is really important in this region at this time,” she said.

Doerr grew up in Spokane, and received a bachelor of arts in politics from Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. She moved to Seattle in 2011 to work as engagement coordinator with The Washington Bus, a movement-building organization that increases political participation and access for young people.

The King County Council candidate was campaign manager for Seattle Parks For All in 2014, where voters approved the creation of a Seattle Park District that generates revenue for parks projects through property taxes it collects.

Doerr supports King County Executive Dow Constantine’s 2020-2025 Parks, Trails and Open Space Replacement Levy that will be on the August ballot and is expected to generate $738 million for parks and trails projects over six years if passed.

“I think there are probably some changes that should be made to it,” she said, such as including more specifics about grant funding to local parks and investments in conservation projects.

From Seattle Parks For All, Doerr pivoted to transportation, taking a position as campaign manager for Yes for Seattle Transit, which championed Transportation Proposition 1 in 2014, providing funding to increase King County Metro service and add transit programs in the city.

She spent 2015 as a legislative assistant to outgoing District 7 Seattle City Councilmember Sally Bagshaw, which included assisting with the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee and its addressin=g issues with stormwater overflows.

It was during this time that former Mayor Ed Murray and Constantine declared states of emergency surrounding homelessness. Doerr said she remembers being at that press conference, and she hasn’t seen an improvement in the homelessness issue since that time.

Doerr took a position as advocacy director with the Transportation Choices Coalition in late 2015, working there until April 2018. She led the Mass Transit Now campaign in 2016 that advocated for the passage of Sound Transit 3, which is funding the West Seattle and Ballard Link Extensions and light rail to Tacoma, among other transit projects.

If elected, Doerr said she would like to serve on the Sound Transit Board of Directors, which has 10 elected King County representatives. Light rail isn’t expected to reach West Seattle and Ballard until 2030 and 2036, respectively, and Doerr said she wants to work to push those project timelines up. She served on a stakeholder advisory group for ST3, and said she supports a tunnel under Salmon Bay to reach Ballard, but she wants to find out what projects could be impacted by the increased cost of that option.

Doerr said Seattle has additional funding to pay for better Metro service, but that isn’t the case for the regional system, and she wants to continue pushing for improvements. Increasing transit where housing is being built makes sense, said Doerr, who pushed for affordable housing and increased density in transit-oriented development during the campaign for ST3.

The latest campaign Doerr managed was for Yes on 1631, a carbon emissions fee measure that was defeated last November. It would have created a $15 per metric ton fee on carbon starting in 2020, which would have increased by $2 annually until state greenhouse gas emission reduction goals were met. Revenue would have gone toward environmental projects in Washington. The measure did receive 74 percent approval in King County’s District 4.

“Everyone’s talking about the Green New Deal,” Doerr said, “and it was Washington state’s Green New Deal.”

The District 4 candidate said she’s proud that fighting climate change is the issue on which Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is running his presidential campaign.

Doerr said there are strategies the county can implement to combat climate change, including creating better building standards and infrastructure, electrifying the transit grid and boosting the creation of clean energy jobs.

The controversial King County Youth and Family Justice Center is slated to open next year, funded by a $210 million capital levy passed by voters in 2012.

Doerr said she thought it was a mistake for the county to move forward with the project, but she’s impressed by the activism she’s seen against it and how it’s helped push the county’s work on restorative justice programs and a goal of ending youth incarceration. There’s no stopping the facility at this point, she said, but she would push for more investment in restorative justice programs if elected. Doerr added she’d like to see more reforms at all levels of the criminal justice system.

The District 4 candidate tells Queen Anne News her experience running campaigns, bringing together various stakeholders to the table, will be a great strength on the county council.

“I will listen to and work with others and prioritize the local and regional issues that matter most: affordable housing and child care, mental health and homelessness, available and reliable transit, and a clean environment,” Doerr said in her campaign announcement. “We need new leadership and a fresh voice helping craft decisions that will affect our families, neighborhoods, and communities for generations to come.”

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