Lauren Doherty: Representation matters
Lauren Doherty serves in Place 3 (at-large) on the City Council in Allen, a city north of Dallas. She made local news after she voted against the installation of a second gun range within city limits before the first was even built. It was planned to be located next to a church and a fitness center. This position was met with openly armed, in-chamber calls for her resignation. Droves of Lauren’s supporters showed up to the following meeting wearing green “Lauren Represents Me” shirts in her defense. For Lauren, it was an experience like none other. Now, Lauren’s personal political views have drawn controversy even though her position on the council is nonpartisan. She believes she must use her story to inspire people with more diverse perspectives to run for City Council. Representation matters to Lauren.
Lauren was born in Rochester, New York but was raised in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. She grew up in a home where everyone was politically engaged. Her grandmother was an activist for universal healthcare in the 1980s. Her parents were active in local politics. Lauren looked up to her mother, an educator who became a tutor for students with learning differences, when the family moved to Southern California. Lauren’s mother taught her to never lose sight of who she is and to always have interests outside of being a stay at home wife and mother. Even though her family was invested in the political scene, Lauren did not become involved in local politics until more recently.
After Lauren settled in Allen, she started to learn more about the local ordinances she was subject to. She and her family believe in sustainable energy and Lauren found that the City of Allen had one of the most restrictive solar panel ordinances in Texas. She organized around the issue and presented, along with a number of experts in the field, a verified petition to the sitting council. Regardless of the numerous supporters that signed the petition, the council at the time voted unanimously to retain the existing ordinance. It was a rude awakening that sparked Lauren’s interest in local politics.
A few days before the filing deadline in February 2018, a friend of Lauren’s tagged her on Facebook and asked that she run for a position on the Allen City Council. At first, Lauren was unsure whether she should run for office. Lauren asked other friends on social media and the response was overwhelming: “you should do it.” Lauren quickly filed for the seat and started her city council campaign.
As a candidate, Lauren relied on her family for support. Her husband jumped into the campaign as the first volunteer. She used her network of local moms to help grow her base of supporters as well. Folks in her community helped her design campaign materials, block walk, and phone bank. After a tough campaign, including a runoff, Lauren secured her seat on the Allen City Council.
As a city councilmember, Lauren makes herself available to her constituents as often as she can. Lauren is active on social media—calling it her bullhorn where she shares her information and asks for feedback from residents. Other councilmembers have agreed that communication between the City and residents needs to be more robust.
Lauren is proud to have advocated for a diversity, equity, and inclusion task force where residents will work with the council on new initiatives. After the George Floyd protests of the summer of 2020, residents came to the council meetings demanding something be done. Their voices were heard and the council agreed to take up the issue. It is a huge step for Allen that Lauren hopes will be replicated in other municipalities across Texas.
Most notably, Lauren has advocated for gun safety initiatives in Allen. As noted earlier, residents publicly attacked Lauren because she was the sole vote against the installation of a new gun range within city limits. She also hopes the council will vote to keep weapons from their meetings, one of the few ways local governments in Texas can advocate for gun safety. Although not within the authority of City Council, Lauren would like to see the gun shows hosted in the Allen Event Center require background checks on every transaction, including private ones. Regardless, Lauren is firm in her beliefs as a progressive in a nonpartisan position. She is proud to be one of a few left-leaning elected officials in Collin County.
Lauren is now in the midst of her re-election campaign. In the process, she is advocating for others in the community to run for office—especially those with differing views from those already represented on the council. She advises women and femmes interested in politics to “just do it.” Women are underrepresented in politics. Lauren believes that women tend to wait to run for office until they are perfectly qualified (and oftentimes overqualified) while men don’t wait. She encourages women to trust in themselves and trust in their experiences. Put simply, Lauren said, “representation matters.”
To learn more about Lauren’s re-election campaign, visit her website: https://laurenforallen.com/