The Worst COVID Tyrant You’ve Never Heard Of

Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego

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How Phoenix Mayor “Queen Kate” Gallego mismanaged (and exploited) the COVID-19 pandemic.

As normal life returns and Americans look back at the past year with clear eyes, it’s almost difficult to believe the actions that some local officials took to undermine their constituents’ recovery efforts.

Bill de Blasio at the gym. Muriel Bowser at a Delaware campaign event. Eric Garcetti’s threat to shut off water to families who invite private guests into their own homes. We remember these names. Throughout the country, though, local mayors outside of the spotlight followed similar paths, privately dismissing the gravity of COVID-19 while publicly leveraging ‘pandemic porn’ in order to advance political goals—and nowhere was that mismanagement (and personal exploitation) more prevalent, or less covered, than in the U.S.’s fifth-largest city.

There is a reason Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, who presided over a coronavirus hotspot in 2020, glossed over the pandemic during her second inaugural speech last Monday.

Gallego—née Widland, prior to her marriage to her now ex-husband, Congressman Ruben Gallego—always had her eyes on this prize. After working for the state party in her 20s, the Democrat’s career followed the trajectory of Peter’s Principle, by which people inadvertently are promoted to their level of incompetence. Gallego’s allies ushered her into various political positions for which she was little-qualified until finding a sweet spot: a safe-blue district on the Phoenix City Council, set to the backdrop of a low-turnout, odd-numbered-year election.

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