In a runoff race for Phoenix Mayor, candidate Kate Gallego, a former Phoenix Councilwoman, appears to be leading her opponent Daniel Valenzuela, another former member of the Phoenix City Council.
With popular Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton resigning his office and now serving Arizona’s Ninth Congressional District, a special non-partisan election was held in November to elect his successor. In a four-way race, Gallego received 45 percent of the vote and had a 19-point lead over her closest contender, Councilman Daniel Valenzuela. Commentators at the Arizona Republic feel that Councilwoman Gallego, with her energized and devoted base, has the turnout advantage right now going into the March 12, 2019 election.
The Blog For Arizona profiled both candidates in June and interviewed both on their positions in and their vision for moving Phoenix forward. Over the last week, we contacted both campaigns for an update. This piece describes Councilwoman’s Gallego’s goals and vision for the fifth largest city in the country.
Who is Kate Gallego?
Kate Gallego is a Harvard and Wharton School graduate who was elected to the Phoenix City Council in both 2013 and 2017. A progressive Democrat, she has joined bipartisan pragmatic progressive organizations like Building America’s Future that specializes in modernizing our county’s infrastructure. The organization is led by Ray LaHood, Michael Bloomberg, and Ed Rendell. She has also co-chaired Phoenix’s My Brother’s Keeper Initiative and chaired both the Phoenix Environmental Quality Commission and Sustainability Subcommittee of the Phoenix City Council.
Before her election to the Phoenix City Council, Councilwoman Gallego applied her talents in economic development and entrepreneurial management by working for S.R.P. (Salt River Project) on renewable energy and water rights projects
As a council member for the City of Phoenix, she has taken the lead in:
- Helping lead the “campaign to pass Phoenix’s citywide transportation plan” known as Proposition 104, which “dramatically expanded Phoenix’s transportation infrastructure.”
- Spearheading the successful Phoenix Equal Pay Ordinance.
- Partnering with AARP to make it easier for senior citizens, through Dial a Ride, to travel from place to place.
- Enhancing the biomedical industry at locations throughout the city including collaborating with the Phoenix Biomedical Campus, the Arizona State University and University of Arizona campuses.
- Assisting in bringing 7,000 jobs to her district.
- Calling for the Outlawing of Dirty Money.
- Revising the City Council guidelines on sexual harassment so that elected officials would receive the same penalties for misbehavior as city employees.
Through her tenure at the Phoenix City Council, Councilwoman Gallego has received praise from the organization’s Women in Transportation and Friends of Transit. She was named by the AZ Business Magazine as “one of the most influential women in business.” She has received the Courage Award from the Girl Scouts Cactus-Pine Council for her advocacy of “equity issues.” Gallego has received honors for promoting equality and social justice from the Anti Defamation League and The Arizona Chapter of The National Association of Social Workers. Her graduate school, Wharton (where she earned her MBA in Entrepreneurial Management), selected her for its “40 under 40” list in 2015.
In her quest to become Phoenix’s next mayor, she has received several major endorsements, including the Arizona Republic, former Mayor of Phoenix and Attorney General Terry Goddard, former Congressman and Tempe Mayor Harry Mitchell, Former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, Arizona House Minority Leader Charlene Fernandez, Senate Minority Whip Lisa Otondo and many others. A full list can be accessed at www.kategallego.com.
Gallego feels that she has the right qualities to lead Phoenix. These include a strong work ethic, her experience on the City Council and private sector at SRP, and her inclusive progressive philosophy that is geared towards moving the city and its residents forward. A proud mother of a two-year-old son named Michael, she wants him to grow up and “want to call Phoenix home.”
Goals and vision for Phoenix
As a council member and potential mayor, Gallego wants to “make Phoenix a city that works for everyone.” To accomplish this, she wants to focus on the following issues if elected mayor: “Jobs, public safety, investing in infrastructure, innovation, and government transparency.” Councilwoman Gallego would address the following public policy arenas.
She believes that “Arizona needs to end up with strong schools.” As Mayor, she wants to be a leader and voice for progressive education ideas that could influence the State Legislature. These ideas include increased funding for all schooling from Preschool (including Head Start which helps prepare disadvantaged poor children for Kindergarten) to post-secondary. She feels tuition for community colleges and public universities should be as inexpensive as possible. She supports city libraries, after-school programs, and literacy initiatives.
A Workforce for the Future
Gallego is a great proponent of workforce training. Serving as a co-chair of the cities My Brothers Keeper initiative (an Obama-era program), she strove to help young people get training for jobs. As mayor, she would strive to increase apprenticeship opportunities for high school and college students through existing programs like those at Gateway Community and Metro Tech. She wants to create more apprenticeship opportunities for students by partnering with the Arizona State University and University of Arizona sites in Phoenix.
The Economy and Jobs
Councilwoman Gallego wants to build where Mayor Stanton left off in presiding over the second largest growing economy in the country. Picking up on her efforts as a City Council Member and planner at S.R.P., Gallego wants to make job and wage growth her number one priority if elected mayor. Drawing on her background in the public and private sectors, she hopes to forge partnerships with businesses and community entities in strategically planning to “locate and invest” for the long term in Phoenix in fields such as healthcare and biomedical research.
Citing her experience in chairing multiple committees on the environment and her work on solar energy projects (including the first Super Bowl solely powered by solar energy), Gallego notes that she “led the city’s effort to develop our renewable energy goal.”
Minimum or Living Wage
Endorsed by the Carpenters Local Union #1912 and the Arizona Building and Construction Trades Council, she supports fair pay for quality work and will continue to fight for this by promoting fair contracts with unions with skilled labor. She supported the minimum wage increase sanctioned with the passage of Proposition 206 and is proud that Phoenix has the highest wage growth in the country. (However, she did not respond to a follow-up question on whether Phoenix residents should be able to vote on a minimum wage increase for people who work in the city.)
Councilwoman Gallego believes strongly in modernizing Phoenix’s Infrastructure, calling Phoenix Light Rail “the anchor of our cities broad-based growth.” Among the leaders in helping pass Proposition 104 (she was the chair of the drive), she wants to further expand light rail to areas of Phoenix that need increased accessibility and regional designs that would link the city with Tucson. Furthermore, she wants to continue increasing Dial a Ride access for Senior Citizens and busing routes. She also wants to continue the progress made in road maintenance and winning “the war on potholes.”
Being the only candidate with an expertise in water rights, she wants to lead the efforts in modernizing our supply and storage infrastructure as the city (and state) combats the drought from the Colorado River.
She did not comment on ways to improve broadband infrastructure or expand cultural centers like the theaters or symphony.
Finally, she wants to promote more international flights entering and leaving Sky Harbor Airport including non-stop flights to Asia.
By facilitating these opportunities, she believes more quality and high paying jobs will be created in these areas.
Councilmember Gallego supports people gaining access to quality and affordable healthcare, believing Obamacare will be fixed with the new Congress that convened this month.
For Phoenix, Gallego would like to sponsor the following healthcare initiatives:
- Increased training and recruiting of physicians, medical researchers, and other medical personnel in partnership with the medical programs at Arizona State University, University of Arizona, and Bio-Medical Campus.
- Investing and supporting Biomedical (including genetic) research at facilities such as TGen where doctors, such as Jeffrey Trent, are endeavoring to develop specific treatments engineered for specific patients.
- Obtaining more funding for hospitals like Phoenix Children’s so patients can get the best possible care.
The Poor and Homeless
She is committed to increasing affordable housing and reinvigorating communities such as the one at 16th Street and Van Buren.
She has worked to increase funding to “clean up homeless encampments” and supports allocating monies to outreach teams through ‘Phoenix C.A.R.ES’ to transport the homeless to support centers.
Gun and Public Safety
While advocating common sense gun safety measures such as an assault weapons ban and background checks, Gallego emphasizes that the first priority of being Mayor is to promote public safety and to “ensure that the police force has the ability to keep our public safe.” Among her priorities in this area are working to decrease wait times on police responses.
She supports “safe and secure borders” along with comprehensive immigration reform that “addresses the economic and humanitarian impacts our immigration policies have here at home and across the world.” She is not in favor of recent Trump Administration policies that call for separating children from their parents.
The Equal Rights Amendment
She fully supports the ratification of the E.R.A. and cites her record of working for equal pay for women.
Proud of having “hired the first DREAMers to work in City Hall,” Gallego supports a pathway to citizenship for these children and young adults. Furthermore, she believes that they should be allowed to pay in-state tuition at our colleges or universities.
Councilwoman Gallego fully supports equal rights for members of the LGBTQ community and will “continue to fight for social justice and economic fairness for all as mayor.”
A Woman’s Right to Choose.
She supports a woman’s right to choose.
Fighting Sexual Harassment
Councilwoman Gallego supports the MeToo movement and champions safe work environments for everyone and equal punishment for harassers.
Stating “our residents deserve a mayor willing to take the steps necessary to restore trust in our democratic process,” Councilwoman Gallego fully supports voter efforts in Phoenix to outlaw Dirty Money in the election this November. If the state tries to block the city’s local ordinance to accomplish this, she advocates joining with the City of Tempe in their suit against the state to reestablish their ban against Dark Money. Full transparency among our public servants is a priority of Councilwoman Gallego.
Suing the Trump Administration over the 2020 Census Questionnaire
She totally endorses the efforts to sue the Administration because the question about citizenship is meant to “intimidate people into not participating in the census.” This tactic could cost Phoenix up to $170 million every year.
Councilwoman Gallego has seen increased enthusiasm and participation in the political process since 2016. There has been greater attendance at meetings and political events. She wants to build on this “growing sense of community” as mayor.
In campaigning for office, she plans to depend on “face to face voter contact, broad community involvement, and paid media,” in broadcasting her message.
Hoping to build on the legacy of Mayor Stanton, Councilmember Gallego will carry the message of “Making Phoenix a City that Will Work For Everyone.” It is a predominantly progressive and inclusive message that should appeal to the great majority of Phoenix residents. Voters should also review her considerable record as a leader who has demonstrated, through her past actions, a problem solving, consensus building, inclusive, and progressive agenda that will move Phoenix forward. This is a mayoral candidate that warrants serious consideration in March.