Seattle mayoral candidate Lorena González could make history for a second time
The current Seattle city Council President became the first Latina to sit on city council in 2017. Now she wants to make a difference in the mayor’s seat.
Last year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced that she would not seek reelection for a second term, setting up a 2021 mayoral election with new candidates.
At least 15 candidates have filed to run, with more likely to come before the May 21 deadline. One of which has the capacity to make history for a second time.
Councilmember Lorena González grew up in a family of undocumented migrant workers from Mexico who settled in Washington’s Yakima Valley. She worked her own way through community college and law school, until she became a civil rights attorney.
For the next decade, she grew in popularity for the fights she chose to take on, particularly for taking on police officers’ abuse of power and racial justice. In 2012, she won a $150,000 settlement from the Seattle Police Department on behalf of a Latino man in a police misconduct case.
In 2014, Gonález’s reputation earned the attention of then-Mayor Ed Murray, and she became his legal advisor. From there, she later became the first Latinx person elected to Seattle City Council in 2015. She was re-elected in 2017, and became City Council President in early 2020.
Now González is one of the sole staunchly progressive candidates for the mayoral seat, and so far, she’s proven to be a formidable candidate.
Some of her core concerns are the homelessness crisis, housing affordability, and police reform.
She wants to directly combat Seattle’s homelessness crisis with an ‘all of the above’ approach, by resettling homeless individuals in motels, building “tiny home villages,” rewriting city zoning codes, and making sure housing developers invest in affordable housing.
As a councilmember, González promoted such investment and partnerships with neighborhood businesses to help tackle the emergency.
One of the next mayor’s first jobs will be to pick a new police chief for the Seattle Police Department. González has indicated that if elected, she will choose to pick a candidate who is committed to reforming the culture of the department.
Her campaign has garnered the endorsement of longtime colleague and Progressive Caucus Chair, Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA). She is the highest-profile endorser so far in the Seattle mayor’s race.
“I know Lorena’s first and only concern is lifting others up,” Jayapal said in her endorsement. “Lorena is the progressive choice to move Seattle forward because she is a proven leader who knows how to get things done.”
From years of working together for immigrant and workers’ rights, affordable housing, and COVID relief, I know @MLorenaGonzalez’s priority is lifting people up.
She's a proven, progressive leader who gets things done. I’m proud to endorse her for Mayor!https://t.co/fDX1JIYBQJ
— Pramila Jayapal (@PramilaJayapal) April 1, 2021
Endorsements by members of Congress in a mayoral election are relatively rare, reports the Seattle Times, adding that no member of U.S. Congress, including Jayapal, endorsed a candidate in the 2017 mayor’s race.
But Jayapal and González have worked together since 2007, when both served on a community panel to review the city’s police accountability system. In 2008, González joined the board of OneAmerica, the immigrant rights group Jayapal founded and led.
This early in the race, González's chances are positive. As of April 5, campaign finance records show her among the top three fundraisers, in the second spot behind nonprofit housing advocate Colleen Echohawk.
Seattle’s election for the city’s next mayor will take place this fall on Nov. 2, 2021.