SEATTLE — Seattle City Council President Lorena González is launching her campaign for mayor, becoming the most high-profile candidate to enter the race.
González is vying to replace Mayor Jenny Durkan, who announced she would not seek re-election in December after the coronavirus pandemic altered the course of the civic discourse and financial stability. Durkan also faced criticism for how the Seattle Police Department handled protests on Capitol Hill and negotiations over police funding.
In an interview with KING 5 Wednesday, González talked at length about her vision for bringing Seattle out of an economic funk, along with homelessness and policing.
“Large, big business has a role to play here and they (Amazon) have largely not played that role as it relates to progressive revenue in this city and being a meaningful partner,” said González.
She defended the new regional approach to homelessness, saying, "We also need to address the livability concerns.”
As for policing, it was clear she favors hiring a new police chief to lead the Seattle Police Department, where Adrian Diaz is serving as interim Chief.
González will be the closest thing to an incumbent in the race, given her two terms on the Council, which now includes serving as Council President. That could mean her candidacy is viewed as a referendum on the current state of affairs in the city. She is expected to have significant labor support, where she is seen as a reliable ally.
Her extended voting record will likely be material for opponents. She first voted for hiring extra police officers, before voting for cuts; she voted for the head tax before voting to repeal, and backed an opponent of Kshama Sawant in the 2019 primary, before ultimately endorsing the political firebrand.
González said, “I have always centered myself on making sure that I have an open mind and that I’m listening to folks."
In a prepared statement announcing her candidacy, González said, "We are in the midst of a racial reckoning made worse by a pandemic that is ravaging our Black, brown, indigenous and other communities of color. But we have the power to show that diversity is our strength and we can transform public safety to meet this civil rights moment. We can do this despite our differences. In this historic moment, I’m ready to be that Mayor for this city."
A first-generation American who grew up in Central Washington, González became a civil rights attorney. She has served as a commissioner on the Seattle Ethics and Election Commission for four years and as a general counsel to the mayor in 2014-2015.
The West Seattle resident was elected to the council in 2015 and elected again in 2017. She was elected as council president by fellow members in 2020.
González joins a mayoral race that will likely see significant political posturing.
Near the end of January, Colleen Echohawk announced she is running to replace Durkan. She has successfully dabbled in city politics for years, and has been seen by many civic observers as a rising star.