When people ask me why I’ve sued the governor, the answer is simple. I’m standing up for my family and my community.

My motivation is not out of anger or retribution but rather love for who I’m responsible for. I’ve lost my ability to provide for my family, and I won’t stop until that right has been restored.

At first, we were told by the governor to stay home because we needed to flatten the curve. We did that.

Then, he changed the rules.

Now, we needed to stay home in order to keep the number of positive cases down. This negatively impacted our community by punishing us for doing what we so desperately needed ... widespread community testing.

José Luis Cuevas.JPG

José Luis Cuevas

Why would we test if we know that more positive cases will result in us staying locked down longer? Testing would give us the true story, but we are kept from doing it. This too is wrong.

And now, we’re threatened with being locked down longer if we don’t wear masks.

First, it was overwhelming hospitals.

Then, it was positive cases.

Now, it’s masks.

How many more times will the governor change the rules?

Enough is enough. I will not be treated like a puppet.

We are tired of the law changing with every press conference. One man can’t make new rules up every day. This is not how our government is designed to work. We stand on the side of legislative statutes already in place that empower local government with the responsibility to lead every local community’s pandemic response. We’re asking the courts to recognize the rule of law and restore local control.

My dad always told me to take care of my family — so that’s what I’m doing. My Latino friends, family, and business owners are told to stay home, not work, yet still pay taxes. Mortgages want their payment, utilities want their bills, and many of us can’t even feed our families.

This is not right.

We’re not asking for a handout from the government, we’re fighting for our constitutional right to work for a living.

We don’t want to take from society, we want to give back. But that requires being free. Free to work, free to provide, free to care for ourselves and others.

I’m proud to join with 45 other citizens of this community who are standing up for the right of our local elected officials to do the job for which they were elected. We are not an angry mob, we are respectful citizens using the path we’ve been given in the courts.

We are not asking for damages (though many have suffered much and lost more). We are not choosing to be victims. We are choosing to fight for the right of every person in our community to take responsibility for their own health, their own business, their own family.

COVID-19 is not going away anytime soon. We must learn to live with it — not in spite of it. And I believe local leaders are best positioned to help us do that.

We have much work to do … getting schools open, rebuilding commerce and local business, restoring community trust, and so much more.

But right now we’re not allowed to do any of that because of the governor’s orders. As a husband, business owner, and elected official, I feel like a caged animal. It’s time to let us get back out into our community and lead. We are ready.

As a family man, I’m fighting for my family. As a community leader, I’m also listening to our people. They want to work. They want the dignity of making their own choices.

The governor is not listening to us or representing us. He’s ordering us around like children. We have to find a solution to the governor’s attempt to control us.

I didn’t run for public office so I could be put on the bench and watch helplessly as the state runs my town. That is why we must not give up until he relents.

When my family immigrated to Wenatchee, they were drawn to the freedom and ability to make their own way. To work hard. To be responsible for oneself. It’s what I love about America. And I will fight for every person’s right to have that same experience.

To my friends and family who might be afraid to go outside, please don’t let fear control you.

To our Hispanic agricultural workers, I have been in your shoes. I know my roots. Please, don’t fall victim to the fear narrative. This valley loves and appreciates you. We can work together. We have nothing to be afraid of if we take simple precautions, practice safe distancing, and look out for one another.

I often tell my friends that I wake up every day looking for ways I can make a difference. For my family. My friends. My community.

This is why I’m doing this ... not because I hate our governor, but because I love my family. And when he forces us into a corner, we have no option but to use the legal path we’ve been given as citizens to respectfully challenge an overreaching executive branch in order to maintain the integrity of local government.

I believe we have the leaders in this community who can decide what’s best for our community. We know the people. They are not numbers to us, they are faces and names. We will be stronger the day we’re allowed to lead again. This is why I am standing up.

This is my conviction. As a proud American, as a proud Latino, as a proud husband and father, I will fight for my right to provide for my family. And I will fight for my community’s right to protect and lead its own. This is why I chose to get into local government — so I could make a difference in my community. We have competent, caring, and compassionate men and women ready to get to work. It’s time to let them lead.

Jose Luis Cuevas is a member of the Wenatchee City Council and a plaintiff in a legal effort challenging Gov. Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 state of emergency in Chelan and Douglas counties.