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Mayor Kevin Lincoln: “Challenging Times Drive Creativity and Innovation.”

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“When you walk with purpose, you collide with destiny.” That profound sentiment expressed by Bertice Berry, PhD, seems to align perfectly with the life of Kevin Lincoln, who began serving his first term as Mayor of Stockton, California, in January 2021. One does not have to dig deep to discover Kevin was born to serve. It’s an innate lifestyle for him; he embodies the characteristics of a true go-giver while never letting go of his natural-born go-getter personality, which was evident since he was a young boy.

In fact, when Kevin was growing up, there were three distinct things he wanted to do in life: join the military; serve in a full-time ministerial capacity; and commit his time and talents to a life of public service. He continues to check such boxes with the utmost grace and humility.

“I have been blessed to experience things early in life and at a leadership level,” reflected Kevin, whose extensive backgrounds in acquiring higher education degrees, serving in the military, working in the corporate sector and remaining highly involved with church and community outreach programs have all provided a solid foundation upon which to stand.

Public Service, Not Politics
Putting people first through a non-partisan approach is the fuel that drives anything Kevin does. He has been blessed with opportunities in life that have allowed him to use his platforms as opportunities to be of service to others. Since he was a young man, Kevin has instinctively answered the call to the needs of the community. Today, as mayor, his constant focus is on the well-being and overall maintenance of the city and its people. In short, he is the kind of person who always makes others feel included.

“I believe Stockton will lead this state and the nation,” noted Kevin. “The changes I want to bring focus on are the fundamental needs of the city, and I will do so by being visible and accessible. I am open to ideas that will serve to move this city forward.”

After Kevin graduated from high school, he initially attended junior college and worked a couple of jobs before joining the U.S. Marines at age 20, where he served with the military police. He was subsequently recruited to work for the White House Military Office, serving under President George W. Bush. 

After his time in the Marines, Kevin went on to work for a high-profile private security company in Silicon Valley and quickly rose through the corporate ranks. He eventually served as district manager, responsible for a budget of over $55 million, a direct staff of 22, and a total employee base of more than 1,300 individuals.

Responding to the call to serve his community at a deeper level, Kevin resigned from his corporate job after several years of honing his skills there and assumed a full-time ministry role at a local church. As the executive administrative pastor, Kevin was in charge of the finances, daily operations and all community outreach initiatives. This role spoke deeply to Kevin’s heart, allowing him to uplift others through allocation of resources and offerings of hope.

In addition to his impressive professional resume, Kevin has also earned an Associate of Arts in business administration, a Bachelor of Science in business management, and a master’s degree in executive leadership. His constant thirst for knowledge is rarely satiated. He desires to learn more every day.

The Recipe for Family
Kevin has been married to his wife, Bonnie, for 19 years. Together they have two children, a 15-year-old son and a 14-year-old daughter, both of whom are following in their parents’ charitable footsteps. Kevin appreciates the continued support they offer him as he pursues this new chapter in his life.

“When I decided to run for Mayor, there were a lot of unknowns, and it was a complete journey of faith but I went all in and I am thankful for the love and support of my family,” expressed Kevin. “This is a whole new world for us, but it is still all about what is important: public service, not politics. I’ve been serving others my whole life and will continue to do so.”

Paving the Path
When Kevin went public with his decision to run for mayor, he initiated a grassroots campaign. Working hard, he set high goals early on and never looked back. “We knew how much money we needed to raise, what endorsements to obtain and what strategies to implement,” he said, giving a nod to the popular incumbent against whom he ran. Being on the ground serving through the local church for seven and a half years, Kevin knew the fundamental needs of the community. Being authentic was his message. Through persistent and hard work, Kevin and his team met and exceeded all of their campaign goals, and he remains eternally grateful for how the people of Stockton have supported him in his endeavors.

“This community has done a lot for my family, which has been here for decades,” said Kevin, whose maternal grandfather immigrated to the area at age 16, working for a local cannery, obtaining his citizenship and raising his family here. Kevin was born to an 18-year-old mother and also raised by his stepfather since he was 5 years old. His father, on the other hand, grew up on the streets of Stockton and was in and out of the system as a kid. While Kevin did not see him much growing up, he does appreciate a new-found relationship with his father today, something he doesn’t take for granted, and he gives partial credit to how accepting this city truly is.

“Regardless of one’s background, Stockton is a city of grit. Its people love this community and this community produces great people,” explained Kevin. “Through my diverse background, I am blessed to chart a new course, allowing me to give back to make a difference for others.”

The Pillars of Opportunity
As mayor of Stockton, Kevin is highly focused on the issues of homelessness, economic opportunities, digital diversity initiatives and public safety. Whatever is important to the people will be important to him. Although this is his first elected position and things are still new, Kevin is not new to serving people. His strengths rest in actively listening, collaborating, building bridges and moving the needle forward, with experienced leadership as the catalyst. “I lead best by serving this community,” emphasized Kevin. “I like to think of it as servant leadership, as it is not about me.”

Although his decision to run for office coincided with a global pandemic, Kevin does not regret the path he chose. “When you go through difficult seasons and times, strength is built. Challenging times drive creativity and innovation, both locally and nationally,” he reflected.

Eye on the Horizon
A self-described “present leader,” Kevin keeps his focus on what needs to be done today, putting tomorrow in the hands of God, as if he instinctively understands the power in harnessing what the present moment offers. “If the people want to re-hire me in four years, that is okay, but I am not one to put the cart before the horse,” he emphasized. “I feel blessed to take my comprehensive background that will allow me to chart a new course and give back to make a difference in the lives of others.”

Kevin finds his new role a truly humbling one, for which he is extremely thankful and responds with a debt of gratitude towards his community. “I simply want to give this city the best I can,” he noted. “My faith and my family have sustained me on this journey and are what keep me grounded and going. I am committed to focusing on what is important to the people of Stockton. Every season in life for me has built upon the next one, and I am thankful for my experiences and what I can apply to today.”