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Todd Gloria is 1st gay man, person of color elected San Diego mayor

Todd Gloria San Diego Mayor

Todd Gloria made history as he was sworn in Thursday as San Diego’s mayor — He is the first self-identified member of the LGBTQ community and first person of color to be elected to the post. Photo: Screenshot from City of San Diego virtual ceremony.

Todd Gloria made history as he was sworn in Thursday as San Diego’s mayor — He is the first self-identified member of the LGBTQ community and first person of color to be elected to the post.

Gloria, who was interim mayor from 2013 to 2014, took the oath of office before the San Diego City Council during a virtual ceremony.

Todd Gloria

Gloria acknowledged that he is the city’s first openly gay mayor and the first mayor of color.

“Today marks a new chapter in San Diego’s history,” said Gloria, a Democrat and the city’s 37th mayor. “It is a place where the son of a hotel maid and a gardener, a Native American, Filipino, Puerto Rican, Dutch gay guy has just become your mayor.”

Gloria also promised “an aggressive strategy” to solve the city’s largest challenges.

“We will be rolling out an aggressive strategy to address the worsening public health crisis in COVID-19, the economic crisis that is impacting San Diego’s families, small businesses and our city budget, and the housing and homelessness crisis that has become even more dire,” Gloria said.

“Over the next 100 days, we will dispense with the small issues that past leaders have struggled to resolve so we can focus on the biggest problems facing our city,” the new mayor said. “If we dream big and work together and believe in San Diego, we can accomplish anything.”

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Making queer history

Gloria is the nation’s second-highest ranking mayor who is a member of the LGBTQ community. He also ranks as the third-highest ranking mayor in U.S. history who identifies as part of the LGBTQ community.

Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot is the highest-ranking mayor in U.S. history. Annise Parker, the former mayor of Houston, was the first lesbian and first member of the LGBTQ community to be mayor of a major U.S. city. She ranks second.

“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,” Parker, president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, said in a statement. “Todd shattered a rainbow ceiling and is the second-highest ranking LGBTQ mayor in the country.”

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Gloria’s win follows other firsts by LGBTQ candidates.

Palm Springs City Councilwoman Christy Holstege made history Thursday when she was sworn in for a second term and became the city’s first female mayor and the city’s first bisexual mayor.

In West Hollywood, Sepi Shyne made triple history as the first Iranian American, first LGBTQ Iranian, and the first queer woman of color to be elected to the City Council.

Gloria’s climb

While serving on the city council, Gloria, upon the resignation of Mayor Bob Filner on August 30, 2013, became San Diego’s interim mayor, with limited powers. He served until March 3, 2014, when mayor-elect Kevin Faulconer was sworn in.

On April 7, 2015, Gloria announced that he would run in 2016 for the California State Assembly 78th district seat held by Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who was termed out. Gloria won the election, and was re-elected in 2018.

Gloria announced his candidacy for mayor of San Diego on January 9, 2019.

About the author

Phillip Zonkel

Award-winning journalist Phillip Zonkel spent 17 years at Long Beach's Press-Telegram, where he was the first reporter in the paper's history to have a beat covering the city's vibrant LGBTQ. He also created and ran the popular and innovative LGBTQ news blog, Out in the 562.

He won two awards and received a nomination for his reporting on the local LGBTQ community, including a two-part investigation that exposed anti-gay bullying of local high school students and the school districts' failure to implement state mandated protections for LGBTQ students.

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