Lorena González joins race for Seattle mayor
Seattle City Council President Lorena González said she will run for mayor Wednesday morning.
González, who travels in the left lanes of Seattle politics, promises "bold, transformative action” on issues including homelessness and affordable housing.
"I believe it's time to scale up. I believe we need everyone, especially big business to do their part," she said.
González joins several other candidates for Seattle mayor, including Colleen Echohawk of the non-profit Chief Seattle Club, and Lance Randall with the non-profit SEED.
In introducing her campaign, González highlighted her experience growing up in Central Washington, where she was raised in a migrant farm-working family.
"I moved from labor camp to labor camp in the summers, where there was no running water, no toilets, and extreme heat, and earned my first paycheck at the age of eight," she said.
She and her family also faced discrimination and wage theft.
González went on to become a civil rights lawyer in Seattle. In 2015, she became the first Latina elected to the Seattle City Council.
Today, González wants to move the city further left than the current Mayor Jenny Durkan.
The two have clashed on issues including homelessness, and police reform. González favors deeper cuts to the Seattle Police Department in the wake of protests against police violence.
"We have to build towards a Seattle that feels safe, making sure that we have equitable community safety that has an accountable demilitarized police force,” she said.
In 2020, Durkan announced she would not run again.
If she wins, González’s campaign said she would become “the first woman of color ever elected Mayor.”
That’s also true of Colleen Echohawk, who got into the race last week.
Echohawk is an enrolled member of the Pawnee nation of the Kithehaki Band who also belongs to the Upper Athabascans. Full disclosure: she’s also a former board member of KUOW.
Echohawk has never held elected office, but she said that gives her a “fresh perspective” as an outsider. She also said her firsthand experience working on homelessness and affordable housing issues sets her campaign apart.
"I can walk into Pioneer Square, and I know the homeless community, and I believe that the solutions lie within the community” she said.
She also told KUOW police reform is an issue she takes personally, remembering John T. Williams, a native woodcarver who was shot and killed by a Seattle police officer in 2010.
“Even now, I share it, I say it to you and I, my heart just hurts and my body feels it,” she said, adding, "Native people have the highest rates of being killed by police.”
Echohawk played a part on a community advisory group in the decision to hire former police Chief Carmen Best. If elected mayor, she said picking the next chief will be key to changing the culture of the department.
"They join the Seattle Police Department because they want to care for the community, because they want to protect the community, and so we have to find a way to encourage that desire to nurture and protect the community," she said.
Echohawk also serves on the board of the Downtown Seattle Association, which represents businesses and other groups, and has been sharply critical of the City Council's approach to issues like public safety.
For her part, Echohawk simply said she would listen to "everyone," including business leaders, in crafting policy.
Another candidate who has announced a run for mayor is Lance Randall, the Director of Economic Development at a non-profit called SEED, where he works to support Black and minority-owned businesses in Southeast Seattle.
Like Echohawk, Randall has never held elected office himself, but he pointed to his experience working directly for elected officials including Congressman Sanford Bishop in Georgia, and here in Seattle with a number mayors on economic development issues.
If elected, Randall said said he would listen more carefully to businesses of all sizes on issues including wage hikes and public safety.
On police violence, Randall said "enough is enough as far as killing unarmed people of color." But he questioned whether taking funds away from SPD was the right approach. "Will that actually stop a police officer from killing me because of my skin tone?" he asked.
The last time the mayor's office was uncontested, around 21 candidates ran (to replace ex-Mayor Ed Murray). This year, in addition to the six people who have notified the city about running in 2021, several more are rumored to be considering it.