Gayle McLaughlin was elected to her first term as Mayor of the City of Richmond, CA in November 2006 and was re-elected in November 2010.
As Mayor of Richmond, Gayle signed four consecutive balanced budgets that kept and expanded City services and increased the number of police officers on duty by 18% since she took office. Violent crime and property crimes, still very serious problems in Richmond, have shown significant declining trends during her tenure.
Under Gayle’s leadership, even with the current national economic downturn, over 700 new businesses opened shop in Richmond, creating over 1,000 jobs. 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.
Gayle helped facilitate grassroots efforts calling for fair taxation that led to an historic settlement in which Chevron has 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).
As Mayor, Gayle has spearheaded and sponsored many new green and sustainability initiatives. For example: she brought forward a policy that has waived solar permit fees for residential installations, initiated a solar thermal rebate policy, sponsored the City’s Green Building Ordinance and its compostable Food Ware Ordinance, and helped initiate the City’s award-winning local green job training program.
Gayle has prioritized the interests of Richmond residents, families, and small businesses. At her monthly “Meet the Mayor” sessions, along with scheduled meetings in her office on a daily basis, she has made herself accessible to all her constituents, whether they represent a wealthy corporation or a low-income family. As chairperson of the Richmond City Council, she has promoted a more participatory, democratic and transparent local government. She supported moving the Open Forum time to the beginning of the meetings to make it easier for people to participate. She stood firm against secret back-room deals that others conducted and was congratulated by the local media for this stance.
Gayle has defended the victims of violent crime, speaking loud and clear against the rape at Richmond High and the recent church shootings, and works closely with the Police Chief and our Office of Neighborhood Safety with ongoing and new strategies to reduce all violence in the city, especially in hot spot neighborhoods. Her office sponsors, in conjunction with local groups, the Healing Circles of Hope, a program that trains facilitators and conducts support groups for many throughout Richmond who have lost loved ones to violence. She advocated for the thousands of residents evicted from their homes by bank speculators and she supported fair cause eviction policies. Gayle embraced unemployed youth desperate to learn skills and earn a salary by expanding the Summer Youth Program by hundreds. She has developed a Richmond Youth Corps providing part-time year round jobs for our youth. She voted to assist Kennedy High School and other Richmond schools with $3 million. She has defended the civil rights of Richmond’s immigrant workers trying to earn an honest day of work.
Gayle has protected the Richmond open shorelines from toxic spills, and unhealthy, ill-conceived development. She opposes urban casinos in Richmond. She initiated laws that protect residents from cell antennas microwaves, signed on as a plaintiff of the court case to stop the State of California from spraying pesticides over Richmond, and won; and she demanded that the Richmond refinery retrofit and expansion project proceed only with important safety and environmental safeguards in place.
As a Richmond City Councilmember, Gayle was the lone vote opposing Measure Q, which sought to increase sales taxes even higher in Richmond. The measure failed, and rightly so. Gayle brought the entire City Council together to require proper environmental clean-up oversight for the toxic Zeneca and UC Field Station sites on the southeastern Richmond shoreline. She championed the East Bay Regional Park District’s purchase of Breuner Marsh to build a park for Richmond residents, co-sponsored an initiative that repealed the 12-year practice of allowing Chevron to self-permit, self-inspect, and self-certify its own projects, and was a key opponent of the ill-conceived idea of a toxic crematorium proposed for North Richmond.
Gayle’s successful election to the Richmond City Council in 2004 and to the Office of Mayor in 2006, without a penny of corporate money, marked a turning point in Richmond politics, when voters selected a candidate solely on the power of her ideas and values, rather than the power of wealthy special interests.
As a Richmond resident, 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. With the RPA she has worked on various civil rights, human rights, environmental health, and living wage issues to preserve and improve the quality of life of Richmond residents.
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.
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.
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.