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With Sterling Workers’ Rights Record and Early Endorsements, SD Labor Council Leader Eyes Assembly Seat

The secretary-treasurer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, Lorena Gonzalez, has announced that she will be running to represent California’s 80th District in the State Assembly in 2016.

A rising star in SoCal Democratic circles, Gonzalez has decided to take her skills and dedication to Sacramento. She is known for having an impact regionally as a labor leader and for her extensive efforts fighting for pro-labor ballot initiatives this past election, According to her campaign website: “Extremism doesn’t work. Pragmatic problem-solving does.” She told the San Diego Union-Tribune:

As we move forward, it’s time for the head of the labor council to be a little less about running a political program and more about running an organizing program,” she said. “I want my members to know we can do more for our entire community by me going on to the Assembly.”

An earlier run may be plausible if current Assemblyman Ben Hueso is elected to State Senate in a special election this spring (State Senator Juan Vargas was elected to the U.S. Congress). Otherwise, Gonzalez will run in 2016 when Hueso’s seat becomes vacant due to term limits. Her campaign’s focus will be on creating jobs in California, she says:

I believe the connection between a good job and a strong community is sacrosanct. There’s nothing more important,” she said in an interview with U-T San Diego. “I am at a point now where in order to ensure that, we need to make sure there are jobs. And I think there’s a lot that could be done in state government to help that.”

In the last election cycle, Gonzalez acted as a conduit between the labor community and the successful Obama campaign. In the past she has led campaigns for living wage agreements and local hiring mandates. She is a staunch supporter of Project Labor Agreements, prevailing wages, and other construction/private sector workers’ rights initiatives.

Gonzalez has already picked up high-profile support from regional politicians and business leaders, including San Diego Mayor Bob Filner; the aformentioned Vargas and Hueso; chief executive of the San Diego Economic Development Corp., Mark Cafferty; Mel Katz, former chairman of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce; and Keith Jones, the incoming chairman of the Downtown San Diego Partnership.

Congressman Juan Vargas told the San Diego Union-Tribune that he has encouraged Gonzalez to make a run at State Assembly in the past due to her constant championing of the workers’ rights:

She has really stood up for working people during a very difficult time and said, ‘You can’t run over the poor and the working class. They have to be taken into account,’” Vargas said. “She has given her blood, sweat and tears and now she can leave on the strongest of notes.

Before beginning her career in labor, Gonzalez studied Law at UCLA. Perhaps the strongest indicators of her likelihood to win the seat are San Diego County Republican officials early attempts to give her purely rhetorical grief:

I think Lorena would be indistinguishable from Ben Hueso in the Assembly and fit in well with the liberals in Sacramento,” Tony Krvaric, chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County, said late Wednesday.

Reiterating her campaign promise, Gonzalez went over her qualifications in a statement announcing her candidacy.

“I’ve hammered out tough compromises between business and workers, between teachers and our school board, and between developers and environmentalists by putting practicality ahead of ideology,” Gonzalez said in a statement. “That approach worked in San Diego County and it will work in Sacramento. Extremism doesn’t work. Pragmatic problem-solving does.”

You can follow @LorenaSGonzalez on Twitter.


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