After 19 years as a paid state lobbyist in Olympia for the city of Kent, Doug Levy is moving on.
Levy has contracted annually with Kent since 1999 after he started his own lobbyist business called Outcomes by Levy. He currently contracts with eight cities to lobby legislators.
“Doug Levy decided on his own to reduce the number of clients he serves and will no longer represent Kent as of May 1,” said Derek Matheson, city chief administrative officer, in an email. “He’s going to take on a larger role with the city of Renton and keep a couple of his smaller clients.”
Levy said it’s about creating more balance in his life.
“What I can 1,000 percent assure you is that my decision to discontinue lobbying for Kent is all extremely amicable, comes about as a result of my quality-of-life/work-life balance decision, and is representative of an overall decision that is right for me on the whole but sad in many ways (like not lobbying for Kent any longer),” Levy said in an email about his departure.
City officials are in negotiations to hire Briahna Murray, of Tacoma-based law firm Gordon Thomas Honeywell, to replace Levy.
“I hired Briahna when I was Covington’s city manager and I think she’s fabulous,” Matheson said. “I expect to bring a contract for Briahna before the Operations Committee and City Council on May 15 and June 5.”
Murray is a vice president in the firm. She specializes in advocating for cities, counties and other local governments to the Legislature and executive branch. The firm represents the cities of Tacoma, Bellevue, Kenmore, Lynden, SeaTac and others as well as Snohomish County, Yakima County and Benton County.
Levy receives $72,000 a year under his latest contract, Matheson said. The council renewed the contract in late 2016 for two years. Levy also represents the cities of Everett, Fife, Issaquah, Lake Stevens, Puyallup, Redmond and Renton as well as the Recreational Boating Association of Washington and the Washington Recreation and Parks Association. The contracts brought more than $500,000 per year to Levy, according to state Public Disclosure Commission reports.
City officials have credited Levy for bringing multiple millions of dollars back to Kent. He works to identify key state issues, monitors legislation and assists with getting state funding for numerous city projects, including Green River levees, the ShoWare Center, Kent Station, major street and highway construction work and gang prevention programs.
He also has fought to help Kent keep its nearly $5 million per year in sales tax mitigation funds. In the next year or so, Kent is expected to lose those funds set up to help compensate for revenue lost when legislators changed the state in 2008 from an origin-based system for local retail sales tax to a destination-based system, gutting the tax revenue the city received from its large warehouse district.
“Doug was in Olympia when I was there,” Councilman Les Thomas said in a 2015 story about a pay hike for Levy. “He is an amazing, well-respected lobbyist in Olympia and worth every dime in my estimation.”
Levy, who lives with his wife, Teri Evans Levy, in Kenmore, graduated from the University of Oregon with a journalism degree and worked several years as a newspaper reporter in the Tri-Cities and Vancouver before switching to government work. He worked as the city of Everett government affairs director from 1994 to 1999 prior to branching out on his own.
The council honored Levy for his 19 years of service at its Tuesday meeting.