“I was raised to believe that if you care about something, you’re supposed to leave it better than you found it,” the California Democrat advised HuffPost. “This is my hometown. This is the community that gave me opportunity, so this is what I’m supposed to do.”
Gloria, who is a component Native American, Filipino, Puerto Rican and Dutch, grew to become San Diego’s first mayor of colour when he was sworn in last month. He’s additionally the primary overtly homosexual man to land the town’s prime job, making him a part of 2020’s “rainbow wave” of LGBTQ candidates who have been elected to workplace.
By all accounts, Gloria’s victory is reflective of San Diego’s more and more progressive voters. Democrats have made notable gains on the native stage in latest elections, though the town and surrounding area leaned conservative for many years. And the previous state assemblyman, who aserved as his metropolis’s interim mayor for about seven months in 2013-2014, is hopeful his place will impress new voters and a future era of would-be lawmakers.
“I want to be known as the housing activist, the advocate for the homeless and the infrastructure nerd who happens to be brown and gay,” he stated. “But I recognize young people in our communities get subliminal messages about what’s possible for them.”
“There are those of us who have been blessed to have these kinds of opportunities,” he continued, “so we must be purposeful and explain to young people that [what they’ve been told] isn’t necessarily true.”
Gloria, who introduces himself because the son of a maid and a gardener who grew up in San Diego’s Clairemont neighborhood, stated his curiosity in public service started at adolescence. As a scholar at Madison High School, he pored over C-SPAN and native newspapers, in addition to volunteered for native officers, together with Christine Kehoe, who served on the San Diego City Council and within the state legislature. At 17, he enrolled in his first political science class, the place he was advised by a professor that members of the LGBTQ group may by no means be eligible to run for public workplace. That sentiment, he stated, has caught with him all through his profession, although he by no means allowed it to hinder his ambitions.
“The only reason it wasn’t dream-eliminating is the fact I’d been volunteering on campaigns for several years by that point,” stated Gloria, who got here out as homosexual at 18. Pointing to well-publicized instances of homophobia he skilled whereas on the marketing campaign path final 12 months, he added, “In many ways, the friction against us is stronger than ever. I don’t want to mislead young people by saying it’s going to be a walk in the park. But I’m hoping to model that, yes, it is possible.”
Widely known as “America’s finest city,” San Diego conjures up photographs of sun-drenched seashores and surf tradition. With a inhabitants of greater than 1.4 million, it’s additionally the eighth-largest metropolis within the U.S. and California’s second-largest after Los Angeles.
To that finish, Gloria is hopeful San Diego will scale up its considering beneath his watch, although he’s fast to keep away from comparisons to L.A. or San Francisco. His most instant problem, after all, would be the COVID-19 disaster. As of Monday, the whole variety of coronavirus circumstances in San Diego County had surpassed 211,787, with greater than 2,103 deaths. The metropolis and its environs stay in probably the most restrictive tier of California’s reopening plan.
Weeks after his swearing-in, Gloria used an govt order to direct the town’s police division and metropolis legal professional’s workplace to prosecute space companies that violate public well being orders. It’s a marked change from former Mayor Kevin Faulconer, a Republican who was opposed to implementing such measures.
“Our main challenge is that we’re a big city that too often operates like a small town,” stated Gloria, who has additionally pledged to spice up San Diego’s dedication to renewable vitality and prioritize the town’s homeless inhabitants. “Much of the primary election was spent discussing vacations and e-scooters. But there’s a host of stuff facing our city. We have a broad and diverse economy. When you’re as large as we are and spend your time focused on small issues and not big issues, that’s going to be your undoing.”
Gloria additionally has a robust advocate in Kamala Harris, who on Wednesday can be sworn in because the nation’s first Black, Asian American feminine vp. Last May, Harris delivered a strong endorsement of Gloria, with whom she’d solid a working relationship whereas she was a U.S. senator, a put up she relinquished Monday.
I need to be referred to as the housing activist, the advocate for the homeless, the infrastructure nerd who occurs to be brown and homosexual.
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria
“Someone at that level of government shouldn’t be as relatable as she is, and she just is,” he stated. “She has the charisma, the values and the priorities that are going to make her a natural governing partner for Joe Biden. What I’m excited about is that she’s from California, which will help her home state. She’ll have our city and, more importantly, people like us in mind.”
The historic nature of Harris’s appointment — and, in flip, what it may imply for lawmakers like Gloria shifting ahead — has grow to be a supply of non-public inspiration.
“People know who the president is,” he stated. “They know who the governor is. They know who the mayor is. …I’m the first [openly gay man of color] to serve in this role, and with that comes responsibilities. I’m anxious to embrace them because I remember being that 17-year-old, wondering if I could do this.”
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