Robert Garcia (California politician)

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Robert Garcia
MG Official Headshot.png
28th Mayor of Long Beach
Assumed office
July 15, 2014
Preceded byBob Foster
Vice Mayor of the Long Beach City Council
In office
July 17, 2012 – July 15, 2014
Preceded bySuja Lowenthal
Succeeded byRex Richardson
Member of the Long Beach City Council
from the 1st District
In office
May 5, 2009 – July 15, 2014
Preceded byBonnie Lowenthal
Succeeded byLena Gonzalez
Personal details
Born (1977-12-02) December 2, 1977 (age 42)
Lima, Peru
Political partyDemocratic (2007–present) Republican (until 2007)
Spouse(s)
Matthew Mendez
(m. 2018)
EducationCalifornia State University, Long Beach (BA, EdD)
University of Southern California (MA)
Signature
WebsiteGovernment website
Campaign website

Robert Garcia (born December 2, 1977) is a Peruvian-American politician and educator serving as the 28th and current mayor of Long Beach, California.[1] A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected in the 2014 election and won reelection in 2018. A former member of the Long Beach City Council, Garcia served as Vice Mayor from 2012 to 2014. He is not only the city's youngest and first elected openly LGBT mayor, but also the first person of color and Latino American to hold the office.[2]

Early life[edit]

Garcia was born on December 2, 1977 in Lima, Peru. He immigrated to the United States with his mother at age 5. His mother and aunt worked in many jobs, such as housekeepers, to support the family. Garcia attended California State University, Long Beach, where he became President of the Associated Students, was an active member of the Delta Chi fraternity, and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies.

He continued his education at the University of Southern California, where he received a Master's Degree, and later became Public Information Officer at Long Beach City College. Garcia received his Doctor of Education degree in Educational Policy from California State University, Long Beach, in June 2010. He has taught courses in Communication and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, California State University, Long Beach, and Long Beach City College.

Garcia changed his party registration to Democratic in 2007 prior to being elected to office. Prior to doing so, Garcia was the founder of the Long Beach Young Republicans, and the California Youth Coordinator for the George W. Bush 2000 presidential campaign[3][4] [5]He and his family were originally Republicans when they first became citizens due to President Ronald Reagan signing an amnesty bill.[6]

In 2007, Garcia founded the Long Beach Post, a website devoted to local news and sports reporting. The site soon became popular with local political figures and community leaders and gave Garcia increased local prominence.[7] He eventually sold the local website before being elected Mayor. Garcia also, with other area residents, founded the North Pine Neighborhood Alliance in 2008 to advocate for the needs of downtown residents and businesses.[citation needed]

He is fully bilingual, speaking, reading and writing both English and Spanish fluently.[8]

Professional career[edit]

Prior to, and during, his election to the Long Beach City Council, Garcia was a member of the public policy and communications faculty at the University of Southern California, and taught Communication Studies at both California State University, Long Beach and Long Beach City College.

Long Beach City Council (2009-2014)[edit]

In 2009, Garcia defeated six other candidates, including a former First District Councilmember, to win the seat vacated when Bonnie Lowenthal was elected to the California State Assembly in 2008. He was reelected in April 2010 by a margin of more than 40 percentage points.

In July 2012, he was unanimously elected to a two-year term as Vice Mayor by the City Council, becoming the first Latino Vice Mayor in Long Beach and the youngest in the City's history.

During his time as a councilmember, Garcia authored or cosponsored more than 20 pieces of legislation, including the City's first Equal Benefits Ordinance, a ban on smoking at bus stops and at farmers' markets, a proposal to extend increased preferences to veterans in civil service hiring, and a broad-ranging arts initiative that eliminated restrictions on street performances, and reduced the business license tax for artists and other home-based businesses.[9] He also showed support for both the business community and labor unions, voting to support Project Labor Agreements at the Long Beach Airport, Port of Long Beach and for the Gerald Desmond Bridge[disambiguation needed],[10] supporting the expansion of the Middle Harbor Terminal,[11] and working to improve infrastructure in commercial corridors.[12] He has shown interest in government reform and fiscal accountability, and supported the City Manager's efforts to consolidate departments.[13]

Garcia's support of the 2010 Long Beach Downtown Community Plan was criticized by some affordable housing advocates, who argued that the plan should be delayed to perform an economic study on affordable housing incentives. In response, Garcia argued that delaying the plan would be costly to the city, and that the economic study could be done separately. The plan passed the City Council, 7-2.[14]

In 2011, Garcia spearheaded the effort to name a planned park in Long Beach's 1st District after murdered San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT civil rights icon, Harvey Milk. The park, since named Harvey Milk Promenade Park, was opened in 2013. Garcia has received national attention for his socially progressive views and the culturally diverse communities he represents, being young, Latino and gay. Garcia was featured in CNN's 2009 special "Latino in America," and was named to the "40 under 40 list" by the national gay news magazine The Advocate.[15]

In January 2013, Garcia was appointed to the California Coastal Commission.[16]

Mayor of Long Beach (2014-present)[edit]

Elections[edit]

In July 2013, after Bob Foster announced he would not seek re-election, Garcia announced his candidacy and entered the race for Long Beach Mayor.[citation needed] He received 25.4% of the vote in the April 8, 2014 election, finishing first in a field of 10 mayoral candidates. In the runoff election between Garcia and fellow candidate Damon Dunn (22.3% of the vote) on June 3,[17] Garcia won with 52% of the vote,[18] and took office on July 15, 2014 [19]

Garcia was reelected on April 11th, 2018 with around 80% of the vote.[20]

Tenure[edit]

Garcia's first 100 days as Mayor were characterized by a focus on education and seating commissioners to fill vacancies on citizen commissions. Garcia committed the City of Long Beach to joining local educational institutions as a signatory to the Long Beach College Promise, and announced a goal of universal preschool enrollment and doubling the number of internships in the city for local students.[21] He appointed more than 60 commissioners, creating the most diverse slate of commissioners in the city's history. A majority of his appointments were women. [22] His State of the City address used a large digital screen to display data and graphics, winning acclaim for its visual appeal and use of technology. The speech highlighted education, economic development, and sustainability, among other issues.[23]

Garcia's focus on economic development has been exemplified by his revival of the inactive Economic Development Commission, and acquisition of a $3 million innovation grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies [24] During his first term, construction on a new civic center began, and voters approved a temporary sales tax to support infrastructure and public safety, which Garcia initiated. Garcia has focused on economic development, public safety and infrastructure, education, technology, and building housing.[25]

Since his time as Mayor, Garcia has proposed 10 ballot initiatives for public safety, infrastructure, term limits, and creating ethics and redistricting commissions among other things; each have passed. This includes Measure BBB which created a finite number of terms which the Mayor can serve. [26]

International trade and human rights[edit]

Garcia leads America’s second largest container port, the Port of Long Beach. During his tenure, he has worked to implement climate goals and has traveled the world to establish trade relationships with multinational companies and trading nations. This includes trade missions to Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Denmark, Peru, Switzerland and Germany.[27][28][29][30]

He has also visited Peru and Honduras in partnership with the Victory Institute and the State Department on missions to expand LGBTQ rights worldwide.[31] He has also visited both Israel and the West Bank.[32]

State and National politics[edit]

In December of 2017, Garcia endorsed Gavin Newsom for Governor making him the first elected Latino to do so. [33]

In May of 2019, Garcia joined California Governor, Gavin Newsom, Representative Barbara Lee and others in becoming a California state co-chair for Kamala Harris's 2020 Presidential campaign. He was the only Mayor to join state leaders as a co-chair.[34] In July of 2020, after Harris bowed out of the Democratic primary and she and Garcia had endorsed Joe Biden, he went on to join the Latino Leadership Committee for the Biden campaign. [35]

In August of 2020, Garcia was selected as one of seventeen speakers to jointly deliver the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.[36] This made him, Sam Park, and Malcolm Kenyatta the first openly gay speakers in a keynote slot at a Democratic National Convention.[37]

Personal Life[edit]

Garcia is a longtime DC Comics fan.[38] On December 22, 2018, he married his longtime boyfriend and California State University, Long Beach Professor, Matthew Mendez.[39]

In July of 2020 Garcia lost his mother, Gaby O'Donnell to COVID-19. Shortly after, he lost his stepfather, Greg O'Donnell to the same disease. [40]

Electoral history[edit]

City Council[edit]

2009 Long Beach City Council district 1 special election[41]
Candidate Votes %
Robert Garcia 1,077 40.73
Evan Anderson Braude 826 31.24
Misi Tagoloa 360 13.62
Jana Shields 97 3.67
William Francisco Grisolia 34 1.29
Eduardo Lara 21 0.79
Total votes 2,644 100
Voter turnout 17.48%
2010 Long Beach City Council district 1 election[42]
Candidate Votes %
Robert Garcia 1,168 71.48
Jana Shields 466 28.52
Total votes 1,634 100
Voter turnout 11.61%

Mayor[edit]

2014 Long Beach mayoral election
Candidate First-round[43][44] Runoff[45][46]
Votes % Votes %
Robert Garcia 11,873 25.24 27,420 52.04
Damon Dunn 10,637 22.61 25,275 47.96
Bonnie Lowenthal 9,227 19.62
Gerrie Schipske 7,192 15.29
Doug Otto 6,363 13.53
Jana Shields 1,017 2.16
Steven Paul Mozena 230 0.49
Eric Rock 205 0.44
Mineo L. Gonzalez 185 0.39
Richard Anthony Camp 107 0.23
Total 47,036 100 52,695 100
Voter turnout 18.25% 20.53%


2018 Long Beach mayoral election[47][48]
Candidate Votes %
Robert Garcia (incumbent) 31,112 78.78
James Henry "Henk" Conn 8,379 21.22
Total votes 39,491 100
Voter turnout 15.10%

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Dr. Robert Garcia is an educator and the 28th Mayor of Long Beach". Robert Garcia for Mayor 2018. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  2. ^ Forty Under 40, May 2010, retrieved January 29, 2012
  3. ^ Stewart, Joshua (April 25, 2014). "Ambassador vs. CEO: Long Beach mayoral candidates have different approaches". Orange County Register. Orange County, California. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  4. ^ Bradley, Eric (March 26, 2014). "2014 Long Beach mayoral race: Robert Garcia focused on growth". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  5. ^ Modesti, Kevin (August 9, 2019). "Long Beach Mayor's rising political star raises questions and, for some, hope". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. Retrieved October 14, 2019.
  6. ^ "Long Beach Mayor's rising political star raises questions and, for some, hope".
  7. ^ "The Future of the Long Beach Post", by Ryan ZumMallen, LBPOST.com, February 11, 2010.
  8. ^ "Meet Mayor Garcia". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  9. ^ Paul Eakins, "1st District: Robert Garcia points to achievements over a short period", Long Beach Press-Telegram, March 29, 2010; accessed March 17, 2016.
  10. ^ Mayor Garcia honored to have the support of another building trade union, robertgarcia.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  11. ^ "Port of Long Beach's Middle Harbor Project Gets Unanimous OK but Lawsuit is Expected to Follow", presstelegram.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  12. ^ "Activity Along Downtown Long Beach's Main Thoroughfare Points To Pine Avenue Revival"Activity along downtown Long Beach's main thoroughfare points to Pine Avenue revival, lbbusinessjournal.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2012-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^ Greg Mellen, "Advocates disturbed at affordable housing issues in Long Beach plan", Long Beach Press-Telegram, October 9, 2010.
  15. ^ Phillip Zonkel, "Long Beach councilman Robert Garcia named to '40-Under-40' list, cnn.com, June 19, 2010; accessed March 17, 2016.
  16. ^ Eric Bradley,"Long Beach City Councilman Robert Garcia appointed to California Coastal Commission, January 9, 2013; accessed March 17, 2016.
  17. ^ Stewart, Joshua (April 18, 2014). "Prosecutor probing allegations in primary voting". Orange County Register. Orange County, California. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  18. ^ Khan, Samia; Medina, Mekahlo (June 4, 2014). "Robert Garcia Becomes First Openly Gay and First Latino Mayor of Long Beach". KNBC. Retrieved 23 July 2018.
  19. ^ Bradley, Eric (July 15, 2014). "Long Beach inauguration of Mayor Robert Garcia, city council reflects the city's rich diversity". Press-Telegram. Retrieved March 17, 2016.
  20. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2018/04/11/long-beach-election-results-for-mayor-city-council/
  21. ^ Josh Dulaney, "Mayor Robert Garcia pledges city participation in Long Beach College Promise", Press-Telegram, October 13, 2014.
  22. ^ "Long Beach council set to approve mayor Robert Garcia's committee nominees", presstelegram.com, October 21, 2014.
  23. ^ State of the City Address: 'Long Beach Getting Stronger', lbpost.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  24. ^ Mayor Garcia appoints 11 people to Economic Development Commission, lbpost.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  25. ^ "Long Beach Business Journal". Long Beach Business Journal.
  26. ^ "Long Beach election results: Measure BBB, which changes term limits, passes". Long Beach Post.
  27. ^ https://www.globaltrademag.com/port-trip-korea-japan-focuses-trade-development/
  28. ^ https://knightfoundation.org/articles/27-civic-innovators-visit-copenhagen-denmark-knight-study-tour/
  29. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/long-beach-mayor-garcia-visits-honduras-with-state-department-to-discuss-economic-development-human-rights/
  30. ^ https://www.dailybreeze.com/2015/12/25/ports-of-long-beach-los-angeles-eye-latin-america-trade/amp/
  31. ^ https://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/09/02/latin-american-caribbean-lgbt-advocates-attend-peru-meeting/
  32. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/two-stories-garcia-to-visit-israel-state-could-raid-rda-funds
  33. ^ https://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-201711-htmlstory.html
  34. ^ "Long Beach's Robert Garcia is the only mayor to join state leaders as a Kamala Harris campaign co-chair". Press Telegram.
  35. ^ "Long Beach mayor to join Latino Leadership Committee for Biden campaign". Long Beach Post.
  36. ^ "Democrats Unveil A New Kind of Convention Keynote". 2020 Democratic National Convention. 16 August 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  37. ^ https://www.advocate.com/politics/2020/8/18/three-gay-rising-stars-join-dnc-keynote-one-his-fiance
  38. ^ https://geeksofcolor.co/2018/04/16/mayor-of-long-beach-robert-garcia-discusses-the-impact-of-superheroes-in-his-life/
  39. ^ https://lbpost.com/hi-lo/photos-mayor-robert-garcia-marries-partner-at-long-beach-ceremony
  40. ^ https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-15/long-beach-mayor-soldiers-on-after-covid-19-family-deaths
  41. ^ "Canvass Report – Total Voters – Official – City of Long Beach – Official Special Municipal Election – April 07, 2009". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  42. ^ "City of Long Beach — Primary Nominating Election — April 13, 2010". City of Long Beach. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  43. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official City of Long Beach — Long Beach Primary Nominating Election 04082014 — April 08, 2014". City of Long Beach. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  44. ^ "City of Long Beach Statement of Votes". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  45. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official City of Long Beach — Long Beach General Municipal Election 06032014 — June 03, 2014". City of Long Beach. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  46. ^ "City of Long Beach Statement of Votes". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  47. ^ "Cumulative Report — Official City of Long Beach — Primary Nominating Election 4/10/2018 — April 10, 2018". City of Long Beach. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  48. ^ [1]

External links[edit]

Political offices
Preceded by
Bob Foster
Mayor of Long Beach
2014–present
Incumbent
Party political offices
Preceded by
Elizabeth Warren
Keynote Speaker of the Democratic National Convention
2020
Served alongside: Stacey Abrams, Raumesh Akbari, Colin Allred, Brendan Boyle, Yvanna Cancela, Kathleen Clyde, Nikki Fried, Malcolm Kenyatta, Marlon Kimpson, Conor Lamb, Mari Manoogian, Victoria Neave, Jonathan Nez, Sam Park, Denny Ruprecht, Randall Woodfin
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