SD labor leader to make a bid for CA Assembly: Lorena Gonzalez to run for 80th Assembly District

District encompasses portions of the South Bay

SAN DIEGO - San Diego's top labor leader announced she plans to run for a South Bay Assembly seat, which might become available next year.

Lorena Gonzalez, CEO of the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, said in her announcement that she would run for the 80th Assembly District, should current office-holder Ben Hueso, D-San Diego, win a special election to fill the state Senate seat.

That seat was held by a new Congressman, the recently elected Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego.

"Well, you know, I think it's a perfect time. We've gotten to a point in San Diego in the labor movement that we've achieved a ton of gains … The one thing that I want to do is to ensure there are jobs out there," Gonzalez said regarding her decision to run. "You can't do that from inside the labor movement."

The Assembly district encompasses south San Diego, Chula Vista and National City. Gonzalez is the first minority and first woman to lead the umbrella organization for all the unions in San Diego, representing around 200,000 workers.

"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."That approach worked in San Diego County and it will work in Sacramento."

Gonzalez has been widely credited over the past month with organizing the Democratic sweep of major races in the general election in San Diego County, including the victory by new San Diego Mayor Bob Filner.

"To see so many seats open up in a domino effect, I can't remember the last time it was this intense," observed political analyst Carl Luna.

A special election will need to be called after Vargas takes his congressional seat on Jan. 3, and Hueso has already announced he will try to switch to the upper chamber of the Legislature.

She said if Hueso remains in the Assembly, she'll wait to run until 2016, when he is termed-out.

"She has a strong base, she has good support, she has name recognition," said Luna. "It's a smart move to announce now because she preempts potential opposition. A lot of people wouldn't want to take on Lorena Gonzalez in that seat."

A single mother of two who lives in Sherman Heights, the Stanford alumna is the sister of environmental attorney Marco Gonzalez, whose lawsuits challenging fireworks displays have been in the news. Their parents were an immigrant farmworker and a nurse, she said.

Print this article Back to Top