Robert Garcia (California politician)

Robert Garcia (born December 2, 1977) is a Peruvian-American politician who is 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 was 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]

Robert Garcia
Mrg officialphoto (2).jpg
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 43)
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

Early lifeEdit

Garcia was born in Lima. 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 a 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.

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.[3] He sold the local website before being elected Mayor.[4]

Garcia was the California Youth Coordinator for the George W. Bush 2000 presidential campaign.[5][6][7] He also founded the Long Beach Young Republicans in 2005. Describing himself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, Garcia guided and organized the Young Republicans, which developed a charter that was recognized as an official club by the Los Angeles County Republicans.[8] Garcia also worked as an aide to Republican former vice mayor Frank Colonna when he was on City Council and ran Colonna's unsuccessful bid in the 2006 Long Beach, California mayoral election.[9]

Garcia changed his party registration to Democratic in 2007 prior to being elected to office. He and his family were originally Republicans when they first became citizens due to President Ronald Reagan signing an amnesty bill.[10]

Garcia has frequently sought to downplay his past as a young Republican activist, including lying about it. While running for mayor of Long Beach in 2014, The Orange County Register published a profile entitled "In a liberal city, candidates don’t want to be a Republican":

In an interview Wednesday, Garcia said he didn’t think about politics while in college and that rumors that he worked for the George W. Bush administration or campaign are untrue.

"To be honest, I was very apolitical," he said.

But it turns out Garcia was much more involved than he claimed, and he didn’t initially tell the truth in an interview.

A November 2000 article in The Daily Bruin, the student newspaper at UCLA, reported that Garcia, then a Cal State Long Beach student, was the California youth coalition coordinator for the Bush campaign, a position he received after walking into Republican offices and writing to the campaign’s national headquarters. [11]

Professional careerEdit

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.[12] 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,[13] supporting the expansion of the Middle Harbor Terminal,[14] and working to improve infrastructure in commercial corridors.[15] He has shown interest in government reform and fiscal accountability, and supported the City Manager's efforts to consolidate departments.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

In January 2013, Garcia was appointed to the California Coastal Commission.[19]

Mayor of Long Beach (2014-present)Edit

ElectionsEdit

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,[20] Garcia won with 52% of the vote,[21] and took office on July 15, 2014[22]

Garcia was reelected on April 11th, 2018 with around 80% of the vote.[23]

TenureEdit

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.[24] 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.[25] 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.[26]

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[27] 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.[28]

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.[29]

International trade and human rightsEdit

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.[30][31][32][33]

He has also visited Peru and Honduras in partnership with the Victory Institute and the State Department on missions to expand LGBTQ rights worldwide.[34] He has also visited both Israel and the West Bank.[35]

Labor and worker rightsEdit

Garcia fostered the first citywide Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between the City of Long Beach, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and the Construction Trades Council to promote opportunities for local-hire on local-capital construction projects. Since its approval and implementation, 25 construction projects, valued at more than $146 million have been built by a local labor workforce.[36][37]

Mayor Garcia also supported the unionization of cannabis and hotel workers, the organization of dock and port laborers, and has fought against attempts in the city to contract work outside of the community.[38] He has also supported organized labor to increase workers’ minimum wage prior to the California State Legislature taking action. Most recently, he worked to pass the city’s first recall and retention plan in response to workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Environment and climate changeEdit

In 2015, Mayor Garcia signed the Global Covenant of Mayors, a global coalition working to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change.[39] Following Garcia's lead, Long Beach continued its dedication to climate change action and developed its first-ever Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP).[40] Through the CAAP, the City of Long Beach has partnered with over 30 local businesses to help reduce their environmental impacts. These Certified Green Businesses follow guidelines for energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste management, employee commute, and community education.

During his tenure, the Long Beach Port has closely adhered to the Clean Air Action Plan.[41] And more recently, Long Beach made early decisions to ban Styrofoam, plastic straws, and plastic bags.[42]

Public HealthEdit

Garcia has said that he views access to health care as a fundamental human right[43] and has been a strong supporter of Medicare for All. In 2020, Mayor Garcia, along with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf formed Mayors 4 Medicare, a coalition of U.S. Mayors dedicated to ensuring people across the country have access to health care.[44]

Under Garcia, Long Beach also launched the Long Beach Black Infant Health Program which aims to address the problem of poor birth outcomes affecting Black mothers and their infants.[45] [46]

State and national politicsEdit

In December 2017, Garcia endorsed Gavin Newsom for Governor making him the first elected Latino to do so.[47]

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.[48] 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.[49]

In July 2020 and inspired by the George Floyd protests, a petition to recall Mayor Garcia was approved by the Long Beach City Clerk. Activists cited Garcia’s "immoral leadership" and financial support from the Long Beach Police Officers Association, the union that represents local police.[50] On November 9, 2020, the mayoral recall was canceled in the wake of the national election. Activist Franklin Sims claimed he and his supporters were being intimidated.[51]

In August of 2020, Garcia was selected as one of seventeen speakers to jointly deliver the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention.[52] This made him, Sam Park, and Malcolm Kenyatta the first openly gay speakers in a keynote slot at a Democratic National Convention.[53]

Personal lifeEdit

On December 22, 2018, he married his longtime boyfriend and California State University, Long Beach Professor, Matthew Mendez.[54]

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.[55]

Electoral historyEdit

City CouncilEdit

2009 Long Beach City Council district 1 special election[56]
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[57]
Candidate Votes %
Robert Garcia 1,168 71.48
Jana Shields 466 28.52
Total votes 1,634 100
Voter turnout 11.61%

MayorEdit

2014 Long Beach mayoral election
Candidate First-round[58][59] Runoff[60][61]
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[62][63]
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 alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  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. ^ "The Future of the Long Beach Post", by Ryan ZumMallen, LBPOST.com, February 11, 2010.
  4. ^ "Who owns the Post?". Long Beach Post. December 14, 2020.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Bradley, Eric (March 26, 2014). "2014 Long Beach mayoral race: Robert Garcia focused on growth". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, California. Retrieved May 2, 2014.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ O'Carroll, Marianna (September 21, 2005). "New Young Republican chapter arrives". CSULB Online 49er. Long Beach, California. Retrieved November 6, 2020.
  9. ^ Wride, Nancy (July 17, 2013). "Vice Mayor Announces Run for Long Beach Mayor". Patch. Long Beach, California. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  10. ^ Modesti, Kevin (August 20, 2019). "Long Beach Mayor's rising political star raises questions and, for some, hope". Press-Telegram.
  11. ^ "In a liberal city, candidates don't want to be a Republican". Orange County Register. 2014-05-29. Retrieved 2020-12-28.
  12. ^ Paul Eakins, "1st District: Robert Garcia points to achievements over a short period", Long Beach Press-Telegram, March 29, 2010; accessed March 17, 2016.
  13. ^ Mayor Garcia honored to have the support of another building trade union, robertgarcia.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  14. ^ "Port of Long Beach's Middle Harbor Project Gets Unanimous OK but Lawsuit is Expected to Follow", presstelegram.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  15. ^ "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.
  16. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-01-28. Retrieved 2012-01-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  17. ^ Greg Mellen, "Advocates disturbed at affordable housing issues in Long Beach plan", Long Beach Press-Telegram, October 9, 2010.
  18. ^ Phillip Zonkel, "Long Beach councilman Robert Garcia named to '40-Under-40' list, cnn.com, June 19, 2010; accessed March 17, 2016.
  19. ^ Eric Bradley,"Long Beach City Councilman Robert Garcia appointed to California Coastal Commission, January 9, 2013; accessed March 17, 2016.
  20. ^ Stewart, Joshua (April 18, 2014). "Prosecutor probing allegations in primary voting". Orange County Register. Orange County, California. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  21. ^ 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.
  22. ^ 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.
  23. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2018/04/11/long-beach-election-results-for-mayor-city-council/
  24. ^ Josh Dulaney, "Mayor Robert Garcia pledges city participation in Long Beach College Promise", Press-Telegram, October 13, 2014.
  25. ^ "Long Beach council set to approve mayor Robert Garcia's committee nominees", presstelegram.com, October 21, 2014.
  26. ^ State of the City Address: 'Long Beach Getting Stronger', lbpost.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  27. ^ Mayor Garcia appoints 11 people to Economic Development Commission, lbpost.com; accessed March 17, 2016.
  28. ^ "Long Beach Business Journal". Long Beach Business Journal.
  29. ^ "Long Beach election results: Measure BBB, which changes term limits, passes". Long Beach Post.
  30. ^ https://www.globaltrademag.com/port-trip-korea-japan-focuses-trade-development/
  31. ^ https://knightfoundation.org/articles/27-civic-innovators-visit-copenhagen-denmark-knight-study-tour/
  32. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/long-beach-mayor-garcia-visits-honduras-with-state-department-to-discuss-economic-development-human-rights/
  33. ^ https://www.dailybreeze.com/2015/12/25/ports-of-long-beach-los-angeles-eye-latin-america-trade/amp/
  34. ^ https://www.washingtonblade.com/2014/09/02/latin-american-caribbean-lgbt-advocates-attend-peru-meeting/
  35. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/two-stories-garcia-to-visit-israel-state-could-raid-rda-funds
  36. ^ http://laocbuildingtrades.org/trades-win-in-long-beach/
  37. ^ http://www.longbeach.gov/finance/business-info/compliance/project-labor-agreement/
  38. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2018/06/19/long-beach-will-soon-allow-recreational-marijuana-sales-after-city-council-votes-in-favor-of-regulating-industry/
  39. ^ https://lbbusinessjournal.com/city-plan-to-address-climate-change-is-costly-but-necessary-experts-say#:~:text=In%202015%2C%20Garcia%20became%20a,climate%20change%2C%E2%80%9D%20Garcia%20said.
  40. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/trade-transportation/new-clean-air-action-plan-at-the-ports-of-long-beach-los-angeles-could-cost-up-to-14-billion/
  41. ^ https://sustainableworldports.org/project/ports-of-los-angeles-and-long-beach-clean-air-action-plan-2017/
  42. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/straw-ban-long-beach-styrofoam
  43. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/09/11/mayor-robert-garcia-launches-new-group-to-promote-medicare-for-all/
  44. ^ https://www.presstelegram.com/2020/09/11/mayor-robert-garcia-launches-new-group-to-promote-medicare-for-all/
  45. ^ https://lasentinel.net/long-beach-to-receive-1m-grant-for-black-infant-health-campaign.html
  46. ^ https://lbpost.com/news/with-national-focus-on-black-lives-matter-long-beach-program-hopes-to-raise-awareness-for-black-baby-mortality-rates
  47. ^ https://www.latimes.com/politics/essential/la-pol-ca-essential-politics-updates-201711-htmlstory.html
  48. ^ "Long Beach's Robert Garcia is the only mayor to join state leaders as a Kamala Harris campaign co-chair". Press Telegram.
  49. ^ "Long Beach mayor to join Latino Leadership Committee for Biden campaign". Long Beach Post.
  50. ^ "Backers of mayor recall can begin gathering signatures". Long Beach Post. 23 July 2020. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  51. ^ "Mayoral recall called off in wake of presidential election results, claims of intimidation". Long Beach Post. 9 November 2020. Retrieved 11 November 2020.
  52. ^ "Democrats Unveil A New Kind of Convention Keynote". 2020 Democratic National Convention. 16 August 2020. Retrieved 16 August 2020.
  53. ^ https://www.advocate.com/politics/2020/8/18/three-gay-rising-stars-join-dnc-keynote-one-his-fiance
  54. ^ https://lbpost.com/hi-lo/photos-mayor-robert-garcia-marries-partner-at-long-beach-ceremony
  55. ^ https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2020-08-15/long-beach-mayor-soldiers-on-after-covid-19-family-deaths
  56. ^ "Canvass Report – Total Voters – Official – City of Long Beach – Official Special Municipal Election – April 07, 2009". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  57. ^ "City of Long Beach — Primary Nominating Election — April 13, 2010". City of Long Beach. 28 April 2010. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  58. ^ "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.
  59. ^ "City of Long Beach Statement of Votes". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  60. ^ "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.
  61. ^ "City of Long Beach Statement of Votes". City of Long Beach. Retrieved 26 September 2020.
  62. ^ "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.
  63. ^ [1]

External linksEdit

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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