At her swearing in last night, Lorena González became the first Latina to ever serve on the Seattle City Council. The speech that followed was a moving tribute to her family and a pledge to represent those "living in the shadows."
In January, the council will get even more diverse when three more new members are sworn in, including Debora Juarez, who is Latina and an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation.
During her inauguration speech last night, González, who grew up in the Yakima Valley, thanked her parents, who moved to the United States from Mexico.
Make no mistake. I am the proud child of immigrants—not just any kind of immigrants but undocumented immigrants from Mexico who later adjusted their status. My parents, with courage and vision to provide greater opportunity to their children, left their family and the only country they knew to pursue the American dream. This historic moment is more theirs than mine.
She also pledged to work on housing affordability, gender equity, workers' rights, police accountability, and homelessness.
We are living in a city where the rich are becoming richer and the poor are becoming poorer. In a single year we saw that our homeless population grew by 20 percent. We’ve also seen that the wealth gap has become increasingly wider between the 1 percent and the rest of us, impacting communities of color and immigrants even more profoundly than others. So, what will we do about these growing disparities?
Cesar Chavez, a civil rights leader and founder of the United Farm Workers Union, once said, “It’s amazing how people can get so excited about a rocket to the moon and not give a damn about smog, oil leaks, the devastation of the environment with pesticides, hunger, disease. When the poor share some of the power that the affluent now monopolize, we will give a damn.”
Tonight, I give a damn. We give a damn. And together we will stand up for the poor, we will stand up for the underrepresented, and we will change the face of the table that represents power.
Here's the video of her full swearing in. Her speech starts around the 5:20 mark.