San Diego race for Mayor heats up as Fil-Am Todd Gloria seeks community support to make history

Todd Gloria with Vice Presidential candidate Sen. Kamala Harris | Photo courtesy of @ToddGloria

Fil-Am Todd Gloria seeks community support to make history

Filipino American Todd Gloria, a 42-year-old Democratic Assemblyman who currently serves as the majority whip in the California State Legislature, is looking to make history in less than two weeks. He is in a virtual dead heat against his opponent for mayor of San Diego, the eighth-largest city in the United States.

If he wins, he would be the first person of color and the first openly gay person to be elected as the mayor of California’s second-largest city, with a population of 1.4 million.

Gloria, who was sworn in as the California State Assemblymember for the 78th Assembly District in 2016, became the second person of Filipino descent ever elected to the California State Assembly after Rob Bonta in 2012.

Both assemblymen attended an online town hall meeting organized by some of Gloria’s friends in the Filipino American community to further drum up support for his mayoral bid.

“I am looking forward to making sure that our community issues are heard and I am proud to carry the mantle for the Filipino American community,” Gloria said about the prospects of becoming the first Filipino American mayor of a major American city.

He added that he is going to focus on the universal issues that are most important to the voters in the city, including homelessness, housing affordability, infrastructure and the housing crisis, among others.

Gloria 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.”

If elected, he said he wants to work on the collection of data as far as COVID-19 is concerned, especially since the community has many members working on the frontlines and a number has been severely impacted.

Todd Gloria with his parents Phil and Linda Gloria | Photo courtesy of @ToddGloria

He also looks forward to strengthening the ties and relations between San Diego and the Philippines, whether he wins as mayor or not. San Diego is home to the second-largest Filipino population in the country, roughly 200,000 according to U.S. Census figures.

“Mayors are the best salespeople for our cities. I look forward to bringing jobs and investors from both sides, which would also bring economic and cultural benefits,” he said.

When Gloria won the primary race last March, Democratic candidate for Vice President and former California Sen. Kamala Harris, congratulated him on the win and tweeted, “My friend @ToddGloria will be a fearless leader for the people of San Diego and is the clear choice to be the next Mayor. I’m thrilled he’ll be on the ballot in November.”

Apart from Sen. Harris, Gloria also received endorsements from Gov. Gavin Newsom, Sen. Dianne Feinstein and labor and civil rights leader Dolores Huerta, who co-founded United Farm Workers with Cesar Chavez and organizations like Human Rights Watch, Sierra Club California and various city and state civic groups and labor unions.

Assemblymember Bonta heaped praises on his colleague saying that Gloria is “absolutely exceptional” and someone “who leads from his heart.”

“He deeply cares about people, their safety and their welfare. He is a true leader and a professional and he gets things done,” he added.

“As someone with a Filipino-American background, having him elected empowers our Filipino community. With homegrown community leaders such as Todd on our side, we know that our needs will be heard,” Olaes, one of the town hall organizers said.

A lifelong resident of San Diego, Gloria began his public service career working for the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency. He went on to join the office of U.S. Congresswoman Susan Davis serving as a community representative and eventually her district director.

He was later appointed as a San Diego Housing Commissioner in 2005 and in 2008, was elected to the San Diego City Council. During his two full terms on the City Council, Gloria was selected by his peers to serve as City Council President for two terms and served as the City’s Interim Mayor from August 2013 to March 2014. He also serves as the vice-chair of the California Legislative LGBT Caucus.

Since being elected to the California Assembly in 2016, Gloria has served in Assembly leadership — first as an Assistant Majority Whip and, a year later, the Majority Whip. He said he has passed legislation on many of the major issues San Diego is working to address, including building more affordable housing, fighting gun violence, combating climate change and providing resources for the homeless.

Gloria graduated from the University of San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in history and political science. He lives in Mission Hills with his partner Adam, and adopted rescue dog, Diego.

Momar G. Visaya

Momar G. Visaya is the Executive Editor of the Asian Journal. You can reach him at [email protected].

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