Kate Gallego was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Today she serves as the 61st mayor of the fifth largest city in the United States.
Prior to being elected mayor of Phoenix in 2019, Gallego worked on economic development and strategic planning for the Salt River Project and served on the Phoenix City Council for five years representing District 8.
Gallego received a bachelor’s degree in environmental studies from Harvard University and a Master of Business Administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Gallego is the city’s second female mayor and is committed to making Phoenix a city that works for everyone.
Chamber Business News sat down with Gallego to learn more about her plans as mayor.
Question: Why did you decide to run for mayor?
Answer: It’s a really exciting time for the City of Phoenix. I had been serving on the Phoenix City Council and recently became a mom, so I have a two-and-a-half-year-old son. When I became a mom, it really took my interest in the future of Phoenix to a whole new level where I’m now thinking long term about what kind of city I want to leave for him and all of our children. It seemed like it made sense to take the work I’d already been doing in city council district to the next level.
Q: What unique qualities do you bring to the office?
A: I have a very different background from previous mayors. We’ve been on a long streak of electing people with legal backgrounds, lawyers, to the office of mayor in Phoenix. I have an MBA and worked in economic development. I think that’s a great background right now as we’re talking about the economy we want for the future of Phoenix, how do we make sure we have knowledge-based jobs, jobs that are more resilient during the recession and the kind of jobs where you can really raise a family and hopefully leave the next generation in a better position.
I also think it’s a pretty unique perspective to be a mom raising a young child and be a mayor. So I hope that’ll be a good opportunity to think about education, about after-school programs, about our libraries. The essential city services that we provide to our future Phoenix leaders.
Q: What are your biggest priorities for your first term?
A: I really believe we need to invest in our city’s infrastructure. I’m a strong proponent of making sure we have a great, secure water supply for the future.
I also want to have a strong transportation infrastructure where we can move easily throughout the community as efficiently as possible. We need a great street network, great highways, we need a strong light rail and bus system.
I want to make sure we are a safe city. I want to invest in giving our first responders the best technology and the tools they need as well as the staffing levels to deliver the excellent service we expect.
Q: What issues are you most passionate about?
A: Well, education really is personal for me. I want to make sure that all of our kids have a great chance to get an education that is world class and will help them lead a globally important city.
I also love the idea of building a more connected city. Expanding our relationships with Mexico and other countries. I am very excited that [Phoenix] Sky Harbor [International Airport] is growing. This week the city council unanimously approved a $5.7 billion plan for Phoenix Sky Harbor. We’re going to be building a new terminal, improving traffic at Sky Harbor as well as creating new space for the National Guard and business operations that are related to the airport. So that is a huge economic engine for us and I’m excited that it’s going to be growing.
Q: What does “build a city that works for everyone” mean to you?
A: Phoenix is more than 500 square miles, we have an incredibly diverse population [of] new residents, established families [and] people from all over the globe. I want to invest in our entire city. We have 13 job corridors in the City of Phoenix, downtown gets the most attention but there’s amazing things happening on our west side, on our north side, in Ahwatukee.
I love talking about what we’re doing along the I-17 corridor. We actually have thirty thousand employees working in FinTech and finance, that is the third largest number of employees in that sector anywhere in the country. Watch out Wall Street, the BBC actually projects that we are going to surpass Wall Street in the number of people working in finance and FinTech in one area. How exciting, and it’s a great opportunity to be able to support it as mayor.
I also want to make sure we’re making investments that work for people at all income levels. I worry a lot about our affordable housing supply and our rising rate of evictions. So, I want to work with nonprofits, the private sector and all city departments to address that challenge and make sure that everyone gets a place to call home.
Q: What’s a fun fact about you?
A: I’ve been to Antarctica!
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add?
A: I’m really excited about our health care sector in Phoenix. In a lot of regions of our city, health care partners are my key partner in moving the city forward.
So we have MIHS, Maricopa Integrated Health System, that’s investing all over the city and bringing great assets. John C. Lincoln is a huge partner in several areas including Sunny Slope. Banner [Health] is making great investments. Dignity [Health] is putting us on the map in terms of cutting-edge medical care.
It’s just so exciting that we’re such a center of health care innovation. And also, for our entrepreneurs. [On June 13th] I delivered my State of the City address. I got to highlight a company, OncoMyx Therapeutics. They just received [a] $25 million investment. They have a great product where they use viruses to kill cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. That’s the kind of cool innovation that’s happening in Phoenix. It’s my job as mayor to tell those stories and make sure that people all over the world know we are leading in everything from neuroscience to cancer care.