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
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
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
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
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.