Jennifer Gale

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Jennifer Gale
Jennifer Gale at the University of Texas in 2006
Born 1960 (according to Travis County voting records)
Died December 17, 2008
Occupation Political candidate
Known for Running for office

Jennifer Lauren Gale (1960 – December 17, 2008) was an American perennial political candidate in Texas. Gale was a native of Wisconsin and a Democrat. She was a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. Gale gained fame in her adopted hometown of Austin, Texas for repeatedly running, or attempting to run, for multiple offices including congress, governor, mayor, city council, and the school board. Gale often attended municipal hearings, forums, and meetings in Austin where she was known for presenting arguments in song. Gale planned to run for Mayor of Austin in May 2009.[1]

Gale, a trans woman and resident of Austin precinct 147, was one of a number of well known Austin eccentrics which include urban outdoorsman cross-dresser Leslie Cochran, who also had run for municipal office in Austin, Texas.

Gale appeared before the Austin City Council on November 20, 2008 and warned about the number of homeless that had died on the city's streets. She also sang "I'll be homo for Christmas" and declared that 2009 would be "Hug A Homo" year; "a perfect chance for all heterosexuals to hug a homosexual."[2]

On December 17, 2008, according to the Austin Fire Department, she was found dead outside a University of Texas area church where she regularly slept.[3]

Political history[edit]

Jennifer Gale changes the channel at Gatti's Pizza, an eatery she frequented, near the University of Texas at Austin.

Gale's first run for elective office came during her bid for Austin mayor in 1997. She earned 420 votes (0.67%), but over time grew increasingly well known and improved her percentages with each race until she was consistently garnering a percentage in the range of 5% to 9%.[4][5][6][7]

Gale received her first public endorsement from Bicycle Austin in November 2001 in her run for Austin Mayor,[8] and Bicycle Austin also endorsed her in May 2005,[9] and May 2006.[10]

In 2004, Gale surprised the Austin political establishment by earning 38.7% of the vote against incumbent school board president Doyle Valdez for the At-Large Position 8 seat of the Austin Independent School District, garnering the highest percent share in her electoral bids.[11]

In recent elections, Gale received 9.3% of the vote in 2005 for Austin City Council Place 4,[12] 6.7% of the vote in 2006 for Austin Mayor,[13] and 0.7% of the vote in 2007 for Dallas Mayor.[14] In her most recent election, Gale placed fourth among six candidates for the 2008 Austin City Council Place 4 election, earning 1,951 votes or 5.8% of the total cast.[15]

Gale filed her intent but ultimately did not gain ballot access to run as an independent candidate against Republican congressman Lamar S. Smith in the 2008 November general election for Texas congressional district 21.

Gale filed her intention in late 2008 to run for Mayor of Austin in May 2009.[16]

Electoral history[edit]

1997 Mayor of Austin

  • 4th of 8 candidates. 420 votes (0.67%)

1998 Austin I.S.D. School Board Vice President

  • 2nd of 2 candidates. (34%)

1999 Austin City Council Place 4

  • 9th of 10 candidates. 691 votes (2.07%)

2000 Mayor of Austin

  • 4th of 4 candidates. 1,244 votes (3.51%)

2001 Mayor of Austin (special)

  • 5th of 8 candidates. 1,538 votes (2.57%)

2002 Austin City Council Place 1

  • 5th of 5 candidates. 2,111 (5.41%)

2003 Mayor of Austin

  • 6th of 9 candidates. 1,077 (1.83%)

2004 Austin I.S.D. School Board Vice President

  • 2nd of 2 candidates. 11,735 (38.7%)

2005 Austin City Council Place 4

  • 3rd of 5 candidates. 5,315 (9.29%)

2006 Mayor of Austin

  • 3rd of 3 candidates. 3,560 (6.7%)

2007 Mayor of Dallas

  • 9th of 11 candidates. 554 votes (0.78%)

2008 Austin City Council Place 4

  • 4th of 6 candidates. 1,953 (5.84%)

Political platform and views[edit]

2008 Jennifer Gale campaign sign at the corner of MLK and Guadalupe in Austin.

Some Austinites[who?] viewed Gale as the personification of the famous "Keep Austin Weird" campaign. Gale embraced the slogan and ran for office with the slogan of "Keep Austin, Austin," which she modified for her 2007 run for mayor of Dallas using the slogan "Keep Dallas, Dallas."

In 2004, Gale was challenged by fellow mayoral candidate and popular local vagrant crossdresser Leslie Cochran to a debate at the University of Texas student union on the topic of who would best represent the urban outdoor people. Gale declined to participate unless given $50 worth of food from the Wendy's restaurant inside the union. "Dunlavy", the event organizer, declined.[citation needed]

Gale claimed in 2008 that if elected to the Austin City Council she would get a National Football League team to move to Austin.[17]


Jennifer Gale was found in an unresponsive state near the rear entrance of the First English Lutheran Church on Whitis Ave in Austin Texas by a staff member shortly after 7:00 am on December 17, 2008. According to an eye witness who was doing maintenance at the church, she did not respond to attempts to wake her up from where she had slept that night on a concrete ramp with little more than a sheet and some news papers. Emergency services via 911 were immediately called and first responders arrived in less than a minute from Fire Station #3 across 30th street from the church. After extended attempts to resuscitate Gale, she was pronounced dead at the scene at 8:26 AM. An autopsy later revealed that she had died from heart disease probably exacerbated by sleeping outside in near-freezing temperatures.[18][19]

A number of Austin politicians and politicos have expressed sorrow at Gale's death. The Burnt Orange Report blog posted a reflective essay on her life along with photos and a plea to support homelessness.[20]

Marti Bier, a policy aide for the Austin City council member Randi Shade, directly attributed Gale's death to the Salvation Army, saying, "Something Jennifer would never talk about, but was a reality for her, is that she is a transwoman living in a transphobic society. Homelessness in the trans-community is a really big problem, and one that goes ignored. There are no laws in Texas protecting transgender people, whether from job discrimination, housing discrimination or hate crimes," and "The Salvation Army would not let her in there unless she was grouped with the men. They would make her use her male birth name and completely disregard, and disrespect, her identity as a trans-woman." [21]

Bier later partially retracted those comments, saying "So what I wrote the other day about trans-services may not have been entirely accurate. I have since spoken with people at both the ARCH and the Salvation Army here in town to learn what they do for homeless transfolks. It turns out the ARCH, while a men's only shelter, is actually pretty educated on the issues and accepts people as they present themselves. While this wouldn't have helped Jennifer Gale except for day-sleeping, it is certainly respectable. They will also provide for privacy in the restrooms/showers for transfolks. The Salvation Army on the other hand... they do apparently have a policy of non-discrimination and they do not turn trans people away, but I'm not fully sold on their ability to actually understand the issue. If they are not full they will give trans people privacy (maybe they have private quarters of some sort), but if full and they are in an overflow shelter situation, as they were Tuesday night, I am under the impression that they will assign people according to their anatomy."[22][23]


  1. ^ "Jennifer Gale, transgender who ran for Dallas mayor, found dead". 2009-10-16. Retrieved 2014-08-30. 
  2. ^ Karl-Thomas Musselman (2008-12-18). "Prophetic Jennifer Gale". Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2008-12-22. 
  3. ^ Tony Plohetski. "Jennifer Gale found dead". Archived from the original on 2008-12-21. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  4. ^ "May 7, 2005 Joint General and Special Election Results" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  5. ^ "May 13, 2006 Joint General and Special Election Results" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  6. ^ "May 12, 2007 Dallas County Joint Election Results". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  7. ^ "May 10, 2008 Joint General and Special Elections" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  8. ^ "Mayor: Jennifer Gale". Bicycle Austin. 2001-11-05. 
  9. ^ "Mayor: Jennifer Gale". Bicycle Austin. May 2005. Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. 
  10. ^ "Mayor: Jennifer Gale". Bicycle Austin. May 2006. Archived from the original on 2008-12-22. 
  11. ^ Mike Clark-Madison (2004-05-28). "Austin @ Large: (Jennifer) Gale Force". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  12. ^ "May 7, 2005 Joint General and Special Election Results" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  13. ^ "May 13, 2006 Joint General and Special Election Results" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  14. ^ "May 12, 2007 Dallas County Joint Election Results". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  15. ^ "May 10, 2008 Joint General and Special Elections" (PDF). Retrieved 2008-05-12. 
  16. ^ "Appointment of Treasurer Form". Retrieved 2008-11-13. [dead link]
  17. ^ Kimberly Reeves (2008-04-25). "That Girl Can Sing". Retrieved 2008-05-05. 
  18. ^ Tony Plohetski. "Eternal Austin political hopeful Jennifer Gale dies". Archived from the original on 2012-09-13. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  19. ^ Tony Plohetski. "Gale died of cardiovasular disease, medical examiner says". Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2009-02-12. 
  20. ^ David Mauro. "Jennifer Gale Found Dead in Austin". Archived from the original on 2011-06-10. Retrieved 2008-12-17. 
  21. ^ Equality Texas. "Jennifer Gale Death Caused by Lack of Shelter for Transgender Homeless". Retrieved 2010-07-21. 
  22. ^ Michael King (19 Dec 2008). "Gale Rumor Untrue". Austin Chronicle. Retrieved 27 Nov 2017. 
  23. ^ Karl-Thomas Musselman (19 Dec 2008). "Public Memorial Service on Sunday in Austin for Jennifer Gale". Burnt Orange Report. Retrieved 27 Nov 2017. 

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