Welcome to the second installment of my campaign blog!
My first blog entry gave you a snapshot of campaign life – meeting new people, learning about the concerns of Seattle residents and, of course, traversing the city trying to avoid being late! But no matter how busy I get, there is one thing I can always take time for and that’s my family.
When I think about growing up in rural Washington as the child of immigrant parents, I think about how grateful I am to have had such hardworking parents and a loving, supportive family. My parents courageously left their families behind and the only country they knew for the “possible-I-hope-it-happens” opportunity to provide their kids a better future. Well, mom and dad, you done good!
My dad was a workhorse who ensured a strong work ethic would always be a pillar in our lives. But my mom? She is without a doubt the most significant influence in my life – the CEO of Casa González. Like many moms in Seattle, she managed every aspect of the household – paid the bills, worked 12-hour days, shuttled six kids to-and-from pre-school/daycare/school and after school activities, homework, cook, clean and repeat. I get tired just thinking about it!
These days I often think about the challenges that surrounded my family and other families like mine: lack of opportunity and poverty. Thirty years later, in the fastest growing city in America, I look around at youth and families in Seattle and I see some of those same challenges happening right here, right now: a shrinking middle class, a gender wage gap so wide it makes me blush and a failed campaign to end homelessness. This is why I’m running for Seattle City Council.
Our city has the potential to be a beacon of success in our country, not just as a booming economic powerhouse but also as a city that succeeds together. We’ve shown we can do this when we passed the highest minimum wage in the nation and when we said yes to pre-k, parks and transit.
Last year, I helped draft Priority Hire legislation while I was legal counsel to Mayor Murray. This legislation requires contractors working on public projects to hire workers from economically distressed zip codes in our City first. That means that our taxpayer dollars are not only used to build community centers and other infrastructure but that those dollars are also leveraged to provide our fellow neighbors, especially women and people of color, the opportunity to access living wage jobs. But what happens when a woman seeking construction and trade jobs is a single mom with no means to pay for childcare? Can she benefit from this new law? These are the questions that policy makers must ask themselves as we create programs like Priority Hire.
Priority Hire is a great step in creating a pathway to a career that pays living wages and, therefore, to stability for working moms. A paid parental leave policy is also a huge step in the right direction. But there is more to be done. As a city we still face significant challenges that uniquely impact women, including the wage gap, the desperate need for pre-k for all kids and paid parental leave for workers who need it. We need a voice on the city council that will champion issues that impact women, who work, live and play in our City. I am that voice.
Like so many Seattleites, I come from a background that taught me what hard work means. But I also know what opportunity means. Opportunity is ensuring that our city doesn’t stack the deck against women, youth, people of color, immigrants and working families. Opportunity is supporting our working moms not excluding them. We must re-commit ourselves to empowering girls, young women and working moms to fulfill their potential. And I believe that change starts with protecting, supporting and nurturing the CEO of your family: mom.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.