Gayle McLaughlin was originally elected to the Richmond City Council in 2004. She was elected Mayor of the City of Richmond, CA in November 2006, and was re-elected in November 2010. Since the City’s Charter only allows two terms as Mayor, Gayle chose to run for a City Council seat so as to continue to play a role in Richmond’s remarkable transformation. She won her current seat on the City Council in 2014 and was sworn-in as a City Councilmember on January 13, 2015.
As Mayor of Richmond, Gayle led the City in a progressive direction that kept City workers in jobs and City services in place, even in hard economic times.
Under Gayle’s leadership, the City Council passed a Minimum Wage Increase Ordinance, raising the minimum hourly wage for Richmond workers to $13.00 by 2018. This huge victory will help local residents to work and live with dignity, and serves as an inspiration for other jurisdictions throughout the country to follow suit.
Gayle facilitated grassroots efforts calling for fair taxation that led to an historic settlement in which Chevron agreed to pay an additional $114 million into the City’s general fund over the next 15 years (an average of $7.6 million more per year).
During her tenure as Mayor, violent crime and property crimes showed significant declining trends: homicides decreased nearly 75 percent over her tenure – with 2014 having the lowest homicide number since 1971.
Gayle’s focus on environmental justice led the city to move forward as a leader on many environmental initiatives. Her focus on a healthy environment moved the city forward greatly with community gardens, bike paths, bay trail construction, and park renovations in neighborhoods throughout the city. In 2010, Gayle successfully led community opposition to a proposed mega-casino at Point Molate. The opening and dedication by Gayle of the Point Molate Beach in 2014 was the first step in the realization of the community’s vision to keep this shoreline open and sustainably developed. Thanks to her efforts advancing solar installation, Richmond was noted as leading the Bay Area for solar installed per capita in 2010. Richmond also received countless awards for its model green job training program that graduated hundreds of Richmond residents who are now working in the green economy. In 2007, Gayle joined other East Bay mayors and leaders in a widely heralded partnership for an East Bay Green Corridor for research and jobs for the new Green economy. In 2012 Lawrence Berkeley National Lab agreed to build its 2nd campus in Richmond. More recently, UC Berkeley has taken over the lead and the focus of this project has shifted to developing a global campus. It is being called Berkeley Global Campus at Richmond Bay and in the coming years this development is expected to bring many changes to Richmond. Gayle is working with all partners in this endeavor to make sure the new campus offers real benefits for our Richmond community, does not displace current residents and truly reflects the City’s healthy, sustainable and equitable direction for its residents.
As Mayor of Richmond and currently as Councilmember, Gayle prioritizes the interests of Richmond residents and families, advocating for residents evicted by banks and speculators and introducing policies to hold Wall Street accountable. Gayle is proudly standing up for her community with the Richmond CARES (Community Action to Restore Equity and Stability) program. This is a foreclosure prevention program that is seeking to acquire severely underwater mortgages in Richmond from the banks (either through voluntarily sales or through eminent domain) so the City can refinance the loans for the homeowners with reduced principals in line with current home values. More recently, she has brought an additional program to the City Council that works with qualified non-profits to help even more homeowners avoid foreclosure and create affordable housing opportunities. Gayle also voted to assist Kennedy High School and other Richmond schools with $3 million, and she has been in the forefront of defending the civil rights of Richmond’s immigrant population. Her support for immigrant rights included a municipal ID for all Richmond residents, so everyone, including immigrant residents, can access services such as bank accounts. Background: Gayle has a background as an educator, and professional experience in nonprofit leadership organizations promoting literacy, social justice, and environmental health. She has also been involved in nonprofit research and data-driven projects addressing the needs of disadvantaged youth. Gayle co-founded the Richmond Progressive Alliance (RPA) in 2003, a gathering of Democrats, Greens and Independents coming together in progressive unity for a better and healthier Richmond. Gayle also co-founded Solar Richmond, a nationally-recognized local program promoting solar power and green jobs in Richmond, and Richmond Residents for a Responsible General Plan, a community organization committed to ensuring that the General Plan process be transparent and open to public participation.
Education: Gayle holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, graduating summa cum laude. Her graduate studies include psychology and education.
Family: Gayle was born in Chicago, Illinois, into a working class union family. She is the middle child of five daughters. Her father was a carpenter and member of the Carpenter's Union and her mother was a factory worker and housewife. As a young activist during the 1980's, Gayle worked with the Central American solidarity movement, People United to Save Humanity (PUSH), and the Rainbow Coalition. Gayle is married to Paul Kilkenny, also a Richmond activist for social and environmental justice.