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Lorena Gonzalez: Seattle's stronger choice for the LGBTQ community

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Photo courtesy of Lorena for Seattle
Photo courtesy of Lorena for Seattle

Are you still undecided on the mayoral race? Haven't voted yet?

At first glance González and Harrell seem very similar: they are both attorneys, they both served on the City Council (Lorena is currently its president), and they both have deep roots in Seattle's BIPOC communities.

But the similarities end there.

Lorena has been a longtime ally to the LGBTQIA+ community. Lorena has been working alongside local LGBTQIA+-led organizations for years, supporting issues that matter most to our community. She has worked Ingersoll Gender Center to advance Trans economic empowerment and Gender Justice League around Trans homelessness, helping to secure funds for a temporary Trans-inclusive shelter for people experiencing domestic violence.

Lorena has worked with Trans and nonbinary communities to address hate crimes and helped to pass the city's gender-neutral restroom ordinance.

Working with LGBTQ Allyship, she supported the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ funding for renter- and workers-rights education from the Department of Construction and Inspection and the Office of Labor Standards, as well as the inclusion of LGBTQIA+ communities in housing policies.

As one of her first acts in office Lorena worked with Equal Rights Washington to pass a conversion therapy ban. Lorena has supported Entre Hermanos in making sure Trans and LGBTQIA+ people are included in immigrant rights funding and policies.

In addition, Lorena worked with GenPride and the LGBTQIA+ Senior Advisory Committee to secure funds for LGBTQIA+-affirming senior housing.

But being a mayor puts you in a different role than a city council member. A mayor runs the city, appoints department directors, and sets the budget, which determines the direction of policy and implementation of polices. To get things done, it is helpful to know how to work with your council member colleagues, something that is lacking now.

I want someone in the mayoral position who will work hard, stay connected to marginalized communities (like the LGBTQIA+ community), and who can work well in coalitions and with diverse stakeholders. Lorena has a proven track record on all these counts.

Photo courtesy of Lorena for Seattle  

Lorena understands that LGBTQIA+ communities have been left out of the overall equation in the city for way too long. Not only does she have a strong track record as an ally working alongside LGBTQIA+ nonprofits, leaders, and advocates, she will use an LGBTQIA+ equity lens to guide her decisions in appointing department directors and crafting the city budget. See Lorena's responses in the Seattle Pride Voter's Guide: she received the highest marks, higher than her opponent.

Lorena will champion our inclusion at an institutional level. With Lorena's LGBTQIA+ equity approach, she is committed to prioritize Trans and LGBTQIA+ organizations with funding around COVID relief, food security, and rental assistance, as well as economic recovery funds. Lorena knows that access to LGBTQIA+-inclusive mental health is important to our communities, especially during COVID, and is committed to funding mental health services that include the needs of BIPOC Trans and Queer communities.

Understanding the unique issues LGBTQIA+ communities need from the legal system, whether around preventing an eviction, gender-marker changes, HIV, housing access, immigration, workers' rights issues, or criminal justice (and so much more), is important to our success in bettering our lives.

Lorena is committed in ensuring that attorneys and legal staff receive the proper training to best provide our community with safe and culturally competent services. Her understanding and dedication to including the most impacted voices at the table is why I trust and support her.

Lastly, I admire her conviction and ability to stand up for what she believes in. Lorena has her ears to the ground around community-led solutions to safety and to addressing houselessness in Seattle. She is willing to advocate for evidence-based solutions that will redirect budgetary funds and advocate for fair taxation in our city. Her ability to work well in stakeholder coalitions and with our current city council (most of the council has endorsed her), will bring a unity to the city of Seattle that we haven't experienced in years.

Join me in voting for Lorena for mayor!

Debbie Carlsen is an LGBTQ+ advocate and co-founder and former executive director of LGBTQ Allyship. As part of her tenure at LGBTQ Allyship, she co-founded the LGBTQ+ South King County Taskforce and the 2020 Queer the Census Washington coalition. She has also worked in the labor and LGBTQ+ movement for 17 years and has been leading workshops on LGBTQ+ workers' rights for the last six years. In the early 2000s, she helped start the Seattle Queerly Classed discussion series, which lasted for five years. Carlsen was part of a broad coalition of leaders encouraging the Seattle Department of Labor Standards, created in 2015, to include the experiences of LGBTQ+ employees. She was a committee member of the Child and Youth Advisory Board (Best Start for Kids), the Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee, and the Seattle Housing Levy Oversight Committee.