Councilmember Lorena González listens to public comment on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, inside City Council Chambers at City Hall in Seattle. 
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Councilmember Lorena González listens to public comment on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, inside City Council Chambers at City Hall in Seattle.
Credit: KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González: Why I'm running for attorney general of Washington state

"It is the right time in our history to have a woman, a person of color, and the daughter of Mexican immigrants step up in this role.”

Lorena González, an attorney who grew up in a family of migrant farmworkers in the lower Yakima Valley, is running for attorney general.

She said she'll be traveling the state as a candidate, while attending to Seattle City Council business -- and preparing to welcome her first baby in January.

González’s declaration is one more ripple effect of Governor Jay Inslee’s presidential run, and speculation that Attorney General Bob Ferguson could run for governor if Inslee doesn’t seek a third term.

(Ferguson told KUOW this week that he'll seek re-election as long as Inslee hasn't ruled out a third term.)

In an interview on Wednesday, González suggested she would run to extend Ferguson's legacy, which includes launching several national headline-grabbing lawsuits against President Donald Trump, including one challenging the so-called Muslim flight ban.

“I have a huge amount of respect for [Ferguson],” González said, “and his work and his integrity.”

She said if elected she’d want to continue Ferguson’s focus on civil rights, and pursue cases involving environmental and economic justice, especially wage theft.

She said when she was growing up, her parents sometimes left her to monitor the fruit they’d picked, to make sure it was tallied accurately.

“We as migrant farmworkers were left with the burden and responsibility of enforcing our own worker rights to get paid appropriately,” she said, “an important part of the work that an attorney general can and should be doing moving forward.”

González said she will balance her candidacy with her duties as an at-large member of the Seattle City Council, where she is not up for reelection until 2021.

“At this juncture I’m going to continue being a Seattle City Council member and doing the job I was elected to do on the council,” she said.

She said her proudest achievements on the council so far include legislation for workers’ rights, police reform, and expanded resources for sexual assault survivors.

She said she’ll take some family leave when her baby is born in January.

“That’ll be an opportunity for me to take the time that I feel is necessary for me to take to bond with my new child, and then quickly get back to it,” she said.

And she’ll be hitting the road as a candidate.

“I’m going to continue to move around to every part of the state,” she said.

González was raised in Grandview, Washington, and graduated from from Washington State University before receiving her law degree from Seattle University.

González said she wants to talk to them about “defending progressive values” around healthcare, the minimum wage, and the recently passed Initiative 940 that requires new law enforcement training.

González said she would be effective at speaking to voters statewide on urban and rural issues -- and using her life experience to emphasize what’s at stake for her in keeping a Democrat in the attorney general’s office.

“If there is a move here,” she said, “it will present an opportunity for the Republicans to identify a moderate Republican who will effectively collaborate with the Trump Administration,” she said.

“I really do believe that the Republicans are going to focus on Attorney General’s office as a key strategy to prevent Washington state from being a thorn in the side of the Trump Administration.”

Two other Democrats, Solicitor General Noah Purcell and State Representative Drew Hansen, have also signaled their interest in succeeding Ferguson as attorney general.