Gayle McLaughlin 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.
She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology, graduating summa cum laude. Her graduate studies include psychology and education.
In 2003 Gayle co-founded the Richmond Progressive Alliance.
Gayle McLaughlin is the former Mayor (2007-2015) and City Councilmember (2005-2007; 2015-2017) of Richmond California,
Under her leadership, Richmond increased the minimum wage to $15 an hour, reduced homicides 75% in 8 years, forced Chevron to pay over $100 million in additional city taxes, limited its pollution and sued the oil giant for damage to the population.
Gayle also promoted Community Choice Aggregation, resulting in more than 85% of homeowners and businesses now receiving greener and less expensive electricity.
She stood for our public school system and opposed charter expansion.
Gayle supported immigrant rights (Richmond is a Sanctuary City).
She led the local fight against foreclosures advocating for the use of the City eminent domain powers to protect homeowners and to keep them in their homes, and spearheaded many other initiatives and programs.
In 2014 Gayle was endorsed by Bernie Sanders who praised the remarkable transformation that took place in Richmond.
Gayle and the RPA are corporate-free, and have never taken a dime of corporate money.
In November 2016 under her leadership Richmond passed the first new rent control law in California in 30 years.
To bring to other California cities Richmond's example of what was possible through local organizing, Gayle traveled the state as a candidate for Lt. Governor during the 2018 primary emphasizing the policies of Single Payer “Medicare for All,” Free Public College, a state public bank, fair taxation from corporations, and election integrity.
In 2019 Gayle co-founded, and was chair during its first year, the California Progressive Alliance (CPA), a statewide independent volunteer network of progressive individuals and organizations, regardless of party affiliation, united by the shared belief that a better California is possible by reclaiming our government from the corporate interests.