Best Politician Against All Odds

Gayle McLaughlin

With her commitment to grassroots politics and social justice, Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin has been at the helm of a sea change in the city over the last decade. She has run three successful city council and mayoral campaigns with broad community support since 2004, despite heavy smear campaigns targeted toward her and the fact that she refused to accept corporate donations in a notoriously Chevron-run town. Now serving her second term as mayor — making Richmond the largest city in the country with a Green Party mayor — she still lives by modest means in rental housing alongside fellow Richmond residents. A vocal supporter of the Occupy movement, she has advocated for violence-prevention programs, new businesses and jobs, and arts and sustainability initiatives. Even so, she’s not one to crave the limelight. When you see her around town — and you will, at neighborhood celebrations and citywide events — Mayor McLaughlin is often just another smiling face in the crowd, ready to listen and happy to be there.

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