The mayor of Seattle, the police chief, and the county sheriff are all women, and so are the two most powerful members of the Seattle City Council, Lorena González and Teresa Mosqueda. They are the only legislators at City Hall elected to represent the entire city, as opposed to individual districts, and they both also happen to be pregnant.
That is an unusual, powerful, and unprecedented set of circumstances, according to Jean Sinzdak, the associate director of Rutgers University Center for American Women and Politics (CAWP).
"Ten women have given birth while in Congress, and they were not at the same time, so it is pretty unusual to have two sitting members of a major city council be pregnant at the same time," Sinzdak said. "And from our perspective, it's terrific."
When González was elected to the Seattle City Council in 2015, she became the first Latina lawmaker in Seattle history. She was raised in the lower Yakima Valley, first came to the "magical, mythical city" of Seattle on a fifth-grade field trip, and holds an undergraduate degree from Washington State University and a law degree from Seattle University. It wasn't until college that she clearly saw the systemic racism in the Yakima Valley, which has never had a Latinx representative in the state capitol.
Mosqueda, who is also Latinx, was elected to the city council in 2017. She holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Washington and a master's in public administration with an emphasis on public health from Evergreen State College.
Early political experiences—one in the tree fruit fields of Wenatchee, one in the state's capitol of Olympia—convinced both women that they could change the world for the better.
Mosqueda can still remember her parents (an education activist and a political science professor) coming home from trips to El Salvador and Nicaragua when she was a kid, and projecting slides in their living room to show how "our tax dollars were going to harm people and kill people in Central America."
"That leaves an impression on you," Mosqueda said the other day, sitting with a cup of coffee outside Eastern Café in the International District, "when you see your family going to other places around the world to try to expose injustices our own government is doing. It makes you want to change things at home and abroad."
Since her 2017 election, Mosqueda has focused on labor, tenant, and healthcare policies. The groundbreaking Domestic Workers Bill of Rights, her key piece of legislation so far, extended basic labor laws and benefits to people working in "domestic" professions like house cleaners, nannies, and gardeners. Senator Kamala Harris and Representative Pramila Jayapal recently introduced federal legislation that mirrors Seattle's law.
When Mosqueda, 39, announced in April that she was pregnant with her first child, due in October, she said people inevitably told her, "Well, no wonder you've been talking about childcare."
Her response? "I was like, I've been talking about childcare for 15 years. This is about supporting working families. Childcare is a worker justice issue. Who doesn't go to work when you don't have childcare? Mostly women. And who gets affected with life-long earning potential and decrease in retirement security? Mostly women. So, we women are taking ourselves out of the workplace because of the failure of public policies to create affordable and accessible childcare."
Mosqueda is a vocal champion of opening childcare facilities in every city building, starting with a facility in City Hall, which she thinks can be open in 2020.
González, 42, has also fought for working families, passing legislation in 2017 that expanded the city's paid parental leave to 12 weeks (both council members expect to take advantage of this leave when they have their children), and using her position to pressure Olympia into passing a statewide paid parental leave policy.
They are both about to transition from advocating for working families to being working moms themselves in an incredibly expensive city—a lived experience that is partly why Sinzdak said it's "terrific" to have pregnant people in power. Pregnancy will give them an insider's perspective on what is wrong with the system while they have the power to change it.
"There's thousands and thousands of working moms in this city and I think that it's going to be really refreshing to them to know that there are going to be two elected officials who are going through that process," González said.
Neither council member is particularly wealthy, according to their financial disclosure reports. Mosqueda is married to journalist Manuel Valdes, and said their net worth was just over $148,000. González is married to restaurant manager Cameron Williams and the couple is worth an estimated $285,000.
What's it like to raise a child in Seattle without a million dollars? González and Mosqueda are about to find out.
While on leave, both plan on calling in occasional votes, which council rules allow. Mosqueda, whose daughter is due in October, said she expects to take some budget votes "either in person or by phone, but not all of them because I need to take some time." González, who is due in mid-January and is waiting to learn the child's sex, said she will take votes "on a case by case basis."
Affordability and fairness have been on González's mind since she was a kid. She remembers being a 12-year-old Mexican American working in the tree fruit fields of Wenatchee and watching her father organize for fair wages. He convinced all the workers to sit on their buckets and then turned to González and told her to translate his negotiations with the white orchard owner.
"I remember telling my dad that he shouldn't rock the boat so much because we were going to lose our job and feeling really scared in that moment," González said during an interview in her City Hall office. "He persisted and I played the role of being the diplomat and the interpreter and we were successful. We were able to get a pay raise for all of the workers in the fields."
González added, "That was a really pivotal moment for me in my life, to really recognize how important it is to fight for things that are beyond yourself."
Both women have an eye on higher office. González has not been shy in saying that if current Attorney General Bob Ferguson decides not to run for reelection, she is eyeing a bid for his job as the state's top lawyer.
Meanwhile, Mosqueda does not deny the rumors that she might run for mayor in 2021. "I always said 'No, I was never going to run for office' and then I ended up saying 'yes.' So I'm not going to rule anything out, ever," said Mosqueda, a former community organizer.
"Let me just remind folks," she added, "I represent the same amount of people that the mayor currently does."
This story has been updated since it was first published to reflect that Mosqueda's parents visited Nicaragua, not Honduras.