Redwood City mayor seeks Assembly seat
Giselle Hale, mother of 2 with business background
March 22, 2022, The Daily Journal
Redwood City Mayor Giselle Hale said she hopes to bring her local efforts to tackle issues around homelessness, housing and child care access to the state Legislature in the Assembly District 21 race.
The mother of two has served on the Redwood City Council since 2018 and became mayor last year. She previously served on the Redwood City Planning Commission and on the board of the Redwood City Education Foundation and had a 20-year career in the private sector. She’s now looking to the state Legislature, with a bid to represent the newly redrawn district covering the eastern portion of the Peninsula.
“In Redwood City, our top two issues are homelessness and housing and I believe that is the growing concern across the district,” she said during an interview last week. “I’m really focused on finding solutions in those areas.”
Hale is running against South San Francisco Councilmember James Coleman; San Mateo Deputy Mayor Diane Papan; Maurice Goodman, San Mateo County Community College District Board trustee; Tania Solé, a former candidate for Redwood City Council; and Republican Mark Gilham. The Daily Journal will be profiling the major candidates and running a series of stories on the various issues of the race.
Born and raised in Milwaukee, Hale said it was her “difficult” childhood and ability to achieve success regardless, in addition to her husband’s experience being thrust into foster care at age 6, that has most informed her outlook on government. Growing up, Hale said her single mother relied on food stamps and other social safety net programs to support Hale and her two sisters.
“My service is really about extending the opportunities that we had to others, because we know what a big difference it makes to have that support,” Hale said. “For both of us, while that sounds like a hard childhood, we have had just amazing careers, and we really attribute it to different things. One there was a safety net there to catch us, two there was a good public education, and three is hard work.”
Hale earned a degree from the University of Wisconsin in German literature and international relations, and later received an MBA from Thunderbird School of Global Management at Arizona. She went on to work for SC Johnson, Coca-Cola, Cisco and Facebook, among others.
Hale recalls being spurred to seek a seat on Redwood City’s Planning Commission to examine worsening housing affordability. She said she and her husband lived with roommates for five years before they were able to afford their Redwood City home and that was “before the housing boom.”
“I applied for the Planning Commission when my oldest daughter was just 5 weeks old,” she said. “I really wanted to be a part of shaping the world she grew up in, and making it a better place not passively but really in a hands-on way.”
While on the City Council, Hale helped form the San Mateo County child care relief fund, securing more than $5 million from private and public contributors. The fund helped keep 300 child care providers open during the pandemic, she said.
She also helped launch the city’s safe parking program for RV dwellers, a program that required work with the state Legislature to legally allow long-term parking both in a city lot and on the street for permitted residents. She said the experience highlights the need for state action in collaboration with local governments.
“What I’ve learned is that having good outcomes relies on collaborations across government,” she said. “I have a deep understanding of these issues, I’ve worked on them at the local level and the regional level and I know what we need from the state level to get more progress.”
She said when it comes to homelessness, she has more hands-on experience than any other candidate. In addition to housing, she said it is important to tackle “root causes,” like mental health, not just symptoms that often become the focus.
“I’m very focused on results. I have a business background, I really look at how do you actually get a result and create a measurable difference for the community,” she said.
Hale also serves on the board of directors for Peninsula Clean Energy, the county’s Community Choice Aggregation organization that purchases and generates electricity for residents and businesses. There, she spearheaded a pilot program to provide rebates for electric bikes to 300 low-income residents. The program, she said, sold out in less than a week and expansions are in the works.
In 2008, Hale was the field director for Obama for America for the Peninsula and Silicon Valley and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo’s 2008 campaign manager. Hale also served on the leadership advisory team for the National Partnership for Women and Families.
Hale is endorsed by Eshoo, as well as state Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, Assemblymember Marc Berman, D-Palo Alto, and at least 14 other members of the state Legislature. She is endorsed by the California Democratic Legislative Women’s Caucus, the California Teachers association and housing groups YIMBY action and Peninsula for Everyone.
As of the last filing deadline at the end of last year, Hale had raised $205,000, more than any other candidate. She said she is not taking money from corporate PACs or interests related to oil, gas and tobacco. She declined to say how much she has raised this year.