SAN DIEGO — CA Assemblywoman, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher announced Monday that she will be stepping down from the State Assembly where she currently represents the 80th district that covers areas of San Diego County.
Through several tweets, she made the announcement and gave some additional information as to her future plans.
Gonzalez tweeted, "I just announced my resignation from the State Assembly so that I can accept a job with the California Labor Federation, AFL-CIO in preparation for becoming its leader in July."
Gonzalez went on to explain why she was making this change and said that "the only way to truly change the lives of working Californians is to empower them at work."
"At the end of the day, there is nothing we can do that is as powerful as a union contract," Gonzalez told News 8. "If we really want to tackle income inequality, if we really want to have a more equitable society, we need stronger unions, and to be able to lead a movement at this point is such an attractive opportunity."
Gonzalez points to raising the minimum wage; paid sick days for all workers; her voter-motor legislation; and overtime pay for farm workers among her most noteworthy legislative accomplishments.
However, she said this new role was not an opportunity she wanted to pass up.
"I think I've been through so much lately," she added. "I put my faith in God and when an opportunity came up like this, that I really look at as my calling in life, I think that made it a lot easier."
Gonzalez announced in August that she was diagnosed with breast cancer, which her husband, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chairman Nathan Fletcher, described as stage 0, but was "also aggressive and hormone-positive" and required "aggressive treatment" because her mother developed breast cancer at age 44 and died at age 62.
In September, she announced she returned home after undergoing a bilateral mastectomy and there is "no cancer left."
Gonzalez at the time described herself as "exhausted and sore" and "hopeful." She tweeted that she was "eternally grateful to the world's best husband /caretaker who hasn't left my side."
Fletcher tweeted his support of Lorena's announcement, calling his wife a "fierce fighter for the working class, farm workers, immigrants, environment and more."
In speaking with News 8 on Monday, Gonzalez said, "In some ways, my health has never been better, but I think that any time you face your own mortality, you think about your own life and the choices you are making."
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, D-Los Angeles, said her passion and work ethic would be missed in Sacramento.
"Lorena can be depended upon to stick to her commitments and to be absolutely forthright in expressing her values," Rendon tweeted. "Her devotion to the working people of California is unmatched.
"She stood as a lightning rod on many issues and I admired how she weathered the storms," he said. "Asm. Gonzalez has very understandable personal and professional reasons to make this change at this time and I hope her colleagues and constituents will all join me in supporting her as she does so. We will miss her."
Another factor in her decision may have been the recent redistricting, which has placed Gonzalez into the 79th Assembly District with freshman legislator Dr. Akilah Weber, D-La Mesa, who took the office in a special election in April. Gonzalez has also served eight years in the Assembly. Legislators in that body are legally restricted to 12 years over a lifetime.
In November, conservative group Reform California filed an ethics complaint with the California Fair Political Practices Commission demanding an immediate investigation and enforcement actions be taken against Gonzalez following a Politico story with "employment negotiations" between her and the California Labor Federation.
"While she should have been serving only the interest of her constituents, Lorena Gonzalez has broken all ethical norms by negotiating a sweetheart employment opportunity with a powerful special interest group while doing their bidding in the Assembly," said Carl DeMaio, chairman of Reform California.
Gonzalez dismissed those claims, telling News 8 "I actually was not in negotiations at all until last week, and I have taken no official actions since then. but it was typical Carl DeMaio."
News 8 political analyst Laura Fink called Gonzalez's decision to head the state's most powerful labor organization a "natural fit."
"Assemblymember Gonzalez has been willing to take on some of the biggest companies and the toughest fights," Fink told News 8. "And whether you agree with her or not, her courage in doing so is something that is scarce in American politics today."
Gonzalez has served as an assembly member since May 2013. Throughout her tenure, she has penned legislation focused on women’s rights, children and families, the environment and workers’ rights. Gonzalez served as Chair of the Assembly Appropriations Committee starting in 2016 and was the first Latina in California history to hold the position.
Prior to becoming an elected official, Gonzalez also worked for AFL-CIO and was the first woman and person of color to hold the position of CEO and Secretary-Treasurer for the San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council, according to her website.
The specific timing of this change has not been released.
WATCH RELATED: Lorena Gonzalez talks up about breast cancer diagnosis (Aug 2021)