Young, Hispanic and Gay: Long Beach’s New Mayor Makes History

by Winnie McCroy
EDGE Editor
Friday Jun 6, 2014

When he was elected mayor of Long Beach, Calif., on June 3, Robert Garcia made history.

Gay Star News reports he is not only the city's youngest mayor, at 36 years old, but he's also the first openly gay mayor and the first Hispanic mayor the city has ever had.

"Thank you, Long Beach!" wrote Garcia on his Twitter page, receiving kudos from the likes of the Stonewall Democrats, the Latin Post, RaiseAChild.US, Proud Progressive, the Stonewall Young Dems, the Los Angeles County Young Democrats and the Victory Fund.

Garcia will replace Mayor Bob Foster, who held the position since 2006. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti gave Garcia his endorsement upon running.

As Vice-Mayor, Garcia has made many pro-LGBT moves, including penning the city's Equal Benefits Ordinance, passed in 2009, which ensures that city vendors provide equal benefits to same-sex partners as to heterosexual married couples.

He has worked to have a downtown park renamed after Harvey Milk, and last year, sponsored the city's first anti-bullying policy, which the City Council adopted.

"I think you run, not necessarily to be the first, I know that there are certainly historical implications of my election," Garcia told NBC News 4. "I'm in this to be mayor of everyone, no matter the age or the color of their skin or who they love."

NBC notes that Garcia received about 52 percent of the votes, beating out contender Damon Dunn, who would have been the city's first African-American mayor.

"It says a lot about the city of Long Beach, about the diversity, about the open-mindedness to have the two candidates that we have that made the runoff," Dunn said.

But Garcia, who noted the city's large Cambodian population and other minorities, said that what's important is to make the city a better place for everyone who lives there.

"For me it's really about making sure we stick to what the issues are. The issues in Long Beach are ensuring that we stay financially responsible, that we grow the port in an environmentally-friendly way, that we're working with our employees to improve services, and that we're a city that's supporting people and that we're bringing business," Garcia said.

Winnie McCroy is the Women on the EDGE Editor, HIV/Health Editor, and Assistant Entertainment Editor for EDGE Media Network, handling all women's news, HIV health stories and theater reviews throughout the U.S. She has contributed to other publications, including The Village Voice, Gay City News, Chelsea Now and The Advocate, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.


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