THIRTY-TWO years ago, a young Todd Gloria was a finalist in the Mayor For A Day essay contest in his hometown of San Diego.
On Thursday morning, December 10, the 42-year-old third-generation San Diegan and son of hardworking parents who grew up in the Clairemont area, was officially sworn in as the 37th mayor of the city in an online ceremony.
Gloria, who previous to his election as San Diego mayor served in the California State Assembly, received his oath of office from California Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins.
He started his address by thanking those closest to him, including his family, his partner, his mentors and his staff.
“I’d like to start this morning by thanking my parents, Linda and Phil, my brother Tye and his beautiful family, my incredible partner Adam, my staff both past and present, all City of San Diego employees, and all the people who mentored me and supported me over the years, most especially Congresswoman Susan Davis, my friend Senate President Pro Tem Toni Atkins and of course our trailblazer who broke San Diego’s rainbow ceiling, State Senator Christine Kehoe. Thank you all so very much,” Mayor Gloria stated.
He then addressed city residents and described his excitement at assuming the mantle of leading the city while acknowledging his beginnings.
“My fellow San Diegans, it is with pride that I stand before you today as the 37th mayor of our city. I’m humbled by our support, I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve, and I am hopeful about the future of our city. Today is more than an inauguration day for me, our city attorney and our new councilmembers. Today is the day that marks a new chapter in San Diego’s history. Today is the day that we start building a San Diego that truly is for all of us,” the University of San Diego alum said.
“As a kid growing up in Clairemont, I didn’t see people who looked like me leading practically anything, let alone the eighth largest city in the United States. But today I stand in front of you as the first person of color and LGBTQ person to ascend to our city’s highest office,” he continued.
“This is a testament to what we all know: San Diego is a unique place, with incredible people where anything is possible. It is the birthplace of California and a bridge between two nations. It’s the home of artistic creativity, ground-breaking innovation and research that changes the world. It’s the 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,” Mayor Gloria further said.
The newly-installed mayor also laid out his plan for his administration’s first 100 days where they will tackle major issues faced by San Diego.
“Over the next 100 days we will dispense with the small issues that past leaders have struggled to resolve so that we can focus on the biggest problems facing our city. 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, the housing and homelessness crisis that has become even more dire.
“My team and I are moving swiftly and decisively to protect our most vulnerable. And we’ll do it with the long-term goal of building a more resilient city in the process. Not enough to get things back to normal – normal wasn’t and won’t be good enough.
“If we dream big, work together and believe in San Diego we can accomplish anything. We will change the narrative, not just for the privileged few but for everyone, especially those who have traditionally felt unheard.
“We will recover and build back, better and stronger from COVID-19. We will stand up for workers and create good-paying local jobs and bring neighborhood improvement to all corners of our city. We will center racial justice and equity not just in public safety, but in everything we do, recognizing that Black Lives Matter. And we will fully and faithfully implement our crime and action plan to ensure that the city that we love is here for generations to come,” Mayor Gloria elaborated.
A former San Diego city councilmember, Mayor Gloria said this is the dawn of a new era where San Diego can reach new heights.
“It’s time for us to dare to be a truly great city. A city where your zip code doesn’t determine your destiny. A city that embraces what makes us unique and celebrates who we are. A city that tackles major challenges head-on and doesn’t let distractions get in the way. No more San Diego specials. San Diego is a big city. It’s time that we acted like it,” he said.
To end his address, Mayor Gloria reiterated his pride to be Mayor of San Diego and what he hopes can be achieved during his tenure.
“I believe in us, San Diego. I know who we are and who we can be. I’m so proud to be the mayor of this great city, but I’m even more excited about what we can accomplish together. Because together, I know, we will build a San Diego for all of us. Thank you,” he said.
Outgoing Mayor Kevin Faulconer, in his farewell speech, asked San Diegans to support the newly-elected Mayor and other elected officials while expressing confidence in Gloria’s abilities.
“To my fellow San Diegans, please join me in lending our public employees and our Mayor, our city attorney and our city council our support, our prayers and our trust,” he said.
“Our new mayor, Todd Gloria, is a colleague and a friend. And he knows, like I do, that the work of our city is never done. And I know that he has what it takes to overcome today’s challenges and keep San Diego leading well into the future.”
Among the things Faulconer cited as his accomplishments include keeping the city’s financing strong (healthy reserves, balanced budgets) and leading the fight for LGBTQ equality. He also cited a few firsts for San Diego during his time, including San Diego as the first big city in the U.S. to move to 100% renewable energy, the largest city in America to switch to community choice energy and the only big city in America to repair over half of its streets in record time.
Faulconer said that he will “remain passionate with our relationship with Mexico, about sharing our story of bi-national success with the world” and that he will continue to work with the San Diegans to improve the city and the community.
In the week prior to the oath-taking, Mayor Gloria had announced appointments to his administration. Among the Filipino Americans joining the staff of Mayor Gloria are Michaela Valk, director of community engagement; Matt Yagyagan, deputy director of policy; Jen Lebron, communications director; and Michelle Porras, scheduler.
In announcing the appointments, then Mayor-elect Gloria said, “At a time when people are especially looking to government for leadership, this group of talented, hard-working and dedicated professionals will help me move our city forward #ForAllofUs. Join me in thanking them for stepping up to serve the people of San Diego.”