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Regional Profile of Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

Gallego on the Go: New Phoenix Mayor Sets Robust Agenda

RegionalProfile, Mayor

Mayor Kate GallegoShe has a passion for travel, and lists the top two destinations on her bucket list as Bisbee and Italy. 

Still, newly elected Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego anticipates it will be awhile before she can cross either location off her list. As mayor of the 5th largest city in the United States, she is working on a longer list of priorities—beginning with managing growth in a sustainable way.

“How do we make sure we accommodate new residents while improving quality of life and sustainability for those who are already here?” asks Mayor Gallego. “With so much growth in our community, we have to be able to multi-task. We have to be able to secure our water supply while pushing our economy and investing in transportation.”

Before running for Phoenix City Council in 2013, Gallego worked for Salt River Project. With a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Harvard and an MBA from the Wharton School, she was able to blend those interests at SRP, where she focused on renewable energy, economic development and strategic planning. 

“At the time, I spent a lot of time working with people in cities throughout Maricopa County on economic development issues,” says Mayor Gallego. “We all had a common feeling that we could do better and push for higher wage jobs—really move the economy. Eventually, I decided to stop complaining and run for office myself.”

Gallego served on the city council from 2013-2018. When former Mayor Greg Stanton announced he would run for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2018 elections, Gallego decided to run in a special election to succeed him. The most critical factor in her decision?

“The key for me was becoming a mom. I’m a mom of a 2-year-old now. And since my son was born, I’ve been thinking a lot more long term. What can we do for the next generation? How can we plan ahead, and make sure this city is so wonderful he will never want to leave?” 

At City Hall, Mayor Gallego is widely known for being deeply interested in both policy and technical issues. 

“To me, it’s important that we really have the best technical experts at the table. We want people who understand smart cities, who understand the best science and engineering, and who can help us make responsible decisions.”

Mayor Gallego Groundbreaking

Mayor Gallego hopes to see Phoenix become more globally connected with more export-oriented businesses. She also wants to create a knowledge-based economy.

“I think those jobs are the jobs of the future. So many other tasks are likely to be automated. So it’s really partnering with our educational institutions to make sure our residents have the best chance to get to that education.” 

Mayor Gallego is listed as the youngest and only female mayor in the 10 largest cities in the U.S. She believes we live in a “unique time where you can go for it” and pursue your dreams.

“Particularly in Arizona, it seems like people care more about results than what you look like, what your name is, or where you were born,” says Gallego. 

She’s also found a connection with other working mothers.

“I’ve talked with a lot of women who are cautious about talking about being moms in the workplace, because they worry that it might hold them back. And the reception I got was really positive. People in Phoenix seemed to like the idea of having a mayor who was a parent and was juggling with the challenges of parenting while governing. So I hope that is something that people in other areas will find as well.”

Her son also may play a small role in Gallego’s decision to put travel plans to both Bisbee and Italy on hold.

“It is partly because the job is so busy, but also my son is just so easily fascinated by things that are here. I offered him after the election, ‘Do you want to go to LEGOLAND?’ And he said, ‘No. Car wash!’”

So for now, the pair are content enjoy their local forays.

“I love taking my son to places like the Phoenix Zoo, and just getting out and watching him learn and grow. I live near South Mountain Park, which I consider one of our greatest gems in the city. And I love to go for a hike and just look out at the city of Phoenix and reflect on how lucky I am to be here.”

Published May 2, 2019

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The Maricopa Association of Governments (MAG) is a Council of Governments (COG) that serves as the regional planning agency for the metropolitan Phoenix area.

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