Filipino American Todd Gloria is on the cusp of making history in San Diego, and become the first person of color and first openly gay person to be elected as the mayor of California’s second largest city.
“Tonight, San Diego, because of you, we are poised to make history,” Gloria, a Democrat, said hours after the polls closed on Tuesday night. “While there are still votes to be counted, I believe that tonight is a night to celebrate.”
As of Thursday, Gloria, who self identifies on Twitter as a “Third Generation San Diegan. Proud son of a maid and a gardener. CA’s 1st Native American-Filipino-Latino-LGBT Assemblyman” garnered 56% of the votes over challenger Barbara Bry who got 44%.
San Diego, with a population of 1.4 million is home to one of the largest concentrations of Filipinos in the United States, with more than 200,000 residing in America’s Finest City.
Council Member Chris Cate, a second-generation Filipino American, represents the City of San Diego’s Sixth Council District where one in every three residents is of Asian American descent.
“I have known Todd a long, long time. He’s someone I can trust. I do not agree with him on a lot of things, which is okay,” Councilmember Cate told the Asian Journal. “I look forward to working with his new administration on bringing forth policy to help the residents of District 6 and all San Diegans,”
Supporters and allies have been sending their congratulatory messages to Gloria via social media.
In a tweet, Human Rights Campaign congratulated Gloria for the feat and for becoming “only the third openly LGBTQ mayor of a major city! Equality was on the ballot, and voters made their choice loud and clear.” #Election2020 #UnityWins The 42-year-old Assemblyman currently serves as the majority whip in the California State Legislature.
Gloria, who was sworn in as the California State Assemblymember for the 78th Assembly District in 2016, was the second person of Filipino heritage ever elected to the California State Assembly after Rob Bonta.
Bonta also expressed his well wishes to the new mayor via Twitter.
“Congrats to my friend & the only other Filipino American I’ve had the opportunity to serve with in the CA Legislature, Todd Gloria on his inspiring election victory as Mayor of San Diego! San Diego & CA are lucky to have your ongoing thoughtful & compassionate leadership, Todd!” Bonta wrote.
Gloria thanked Bonta and said, “I’m sad to leave the legislature but happy to be breaking another barrier for our Fil-Am community just as you have done so many times.”
“It is an uphill battle for LGBTQ people of color to be in a position to run for high-level office, much less win, so Todd’s victory is a pivotal moment for San Diego and the country.
Todd shattered a rainbow ceiling and is now the second-highest ranking LGBTQ mayor in the country,” said former Houston Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO of LGBTQ Victory Fund in a statement.
“His voice and his impact on critical issues – and especially civil rights – will extend far beyond the boundaries of his city and state. Todd will undoubtably become a role model for many LGBTQ young people who too rarely see someone like them in a position of power,” Parker added.
California State Senator Toni Atkins praised Gloria’s campaign which she said “focused on the People, which is exactly how he will operate as Mayor.”
“I look forward to working closely with him to serve all San Diegans and to ensure our city continues to be America’s finest,” Atkins added.
At an online town hall meeting organized by Gloria’s friends in the Filipino American community to further drum up support for his mayoral bid, Gloria talked about his life and the way he was brought up by his parents.
He shared how his grandparents moved to San Diego and how his parents Phil and Linda taught him traditional family values. He said that he is the first in his working class family to graduate from university.
“I will be a mayor for everyone,” he said. “I am mindful that there are little Filipino boys and girls who might see me in government as someone that looks like them, and maybe inspire them.”
Gloria said he looks forward to strengthening the ties and relations between San Diego and the Philippines specially since San Diego is home to many Filipinos.
“Mayors are the best sales people for our cities. I look forward to bringing jobs and investors from both sides, which would also bring economic and cultural benefits,” he said.