Member Profile: M. Lorena Gonzalez
September 20, 2017 | 4:50 EDT
Seattle Councilmember M. Lorena Gonzalez is a former civil rights attorney and community advocate. Elected to the City Council in November 2015, Councilmember Gonzalez has established a legal defense fund for immigrant and refugee communities, passed a comprehensive package of police reforms and fought for a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program.She joined Local Progress in early 2017. We are delighted to feature her this month as progressive leader in our network.
How long have you been in office?
- I was sworn into office on November 24, 2015 and have served the people of Seattle for nearly 2 years.
- What motivated you to serve?
- As a former civil rights attorney and community advocate, I fought against special interests for the fair treatment of women, seniors, low-wage workers and people of color. Through my service on community boards and non-profits, I advocated for community empowerment and engagement. My passion to serve has been fueled by my own lived experiences with discrimination, poverty and lack of opportunity. City lawmakers have the power to fundamentally impact the lives of our constituents and my lived experiences are directly relevant to the critical challenges before Seattle: homelessness, housing affordability and transportation.
- Tell us about Seattle.
- Seattle is an incredibly prosperous city. It is the region’s largest employment center and is one of the most beautiful cities in the country. But not all of us have benefited equitably from recent economic prosperity. Seattle’s unhoused population has grown by 20% every year over the past several years and the gap between the 1% and the rest of us continues to widen. Communities of color and immigrants continue to be disproportionately impacted by free-market principles, inequitable wages and gentrification. These are challenges that we regrettably share with other urban cities.
- What is your fight back work like, and where are Seattle’s areas of resistance that combat regressive federal policies and executive orders?
- I am proud to have sponsored a Welcoming City Resolution to re-affirm and double-down on Seattle’s commitment to sanctuary policies and our immigrant and refugee communities. I also established a $1 million Legal Defense Fund to provide free civil legal aid to immigrant and refugee communities in immigration proceedings.
Sponsored & Passed
- $1 million Legal Defense Fund to provide civil legal aid to immigrants and refugees facing deportation.
- The largest and most comprehensive package of police reforms in Seattle; establishing a permanent Community Police Commission, increased civilianization of the Office of Police Accountability and establishing an Office of Inspector General for Public Safety.
- Second-in-the-nation Secure Scheduling law that provides hourly-wage workers at restaurants and retail stores schedule predictability, premium pay for schedule changes and access to full-time work.
- Model Surveillance Ordinance to require transparency of the acquisition of technology capable of surveilling people.
- Fought for a statewide Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program that would meet the needs of Seattle’s working families. This best-in-the-nation family leave insurance program will provide 12-weeks of progressive paid leave to Seattle’s working families beginning in 2019.