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06 • MARCH 29, 2019 • LOSANGELESBLADE.COM

LOCAL

Todd Gloria hoping to make history as San Diego mayor He’d be the first gay and person of color to run America’s 8th largest city By KAREN OCAMB kocamb@losangelesblade.com Compassion can’t be ordered up like a dessert item on a road-stop menu. Compassion is a character trait developed through hard earned experience and the willingness to walk in someone else’s shoes. And compassion, California Assemblymember Todd Gloria believes, is an attribute LGBT people can uniquely bring with them into elected office. In an America fuming over Donald Trump’s divisive toxic masculinity, Gloria stands for the triumph of humanity over smug cruelty and neglect. It’s a practiced philosophy he intends to bring to his hometown of San Diego where he hopes to be elected mayor in 2020. “I’m third generation San Diegan. I know where the city has been and I have a vision for where I’d like to take it. The opportunity to lead my hometown—the second largest city in California and the eighth largest in the nation—is one that I don’t want to pass up,” Gloria tells the Los Angeles Blade by phone from Sacramento. “This is where I believe I can make the most meaningful impact.” There’s a calm excitement in Gloria’s voice, as if he’s mentally transported himself to some San Diego site where, shovel in hand, he’s about to dig a new beginning. “I believe San Diego is at an inflection point where we can build on the things that I did while I was a city council member, city council president and interim mayor in the past,” he says. “We must take on new challenges. We are the eighth largest city in the nation and we have the fourth largest homeless population in the United States! I think we should fix that.” There’s also a housing affordability crisis that’s hurting the middle class “that allowed me to get an education and build a career and a life in my hometown. That’s imperiled at the moment,” he says. “We need to build a world-class public transportation system – that still has not happened but could happen with the right kind of leadership.” He’s offering a new direction “that’s more

Assemblymember Todd Gloria Feb. 2018 in San Diego Photo by Karen Ocamb

reflective of our big city status rather than the small town ways that have often held us back held back in realizing the full potential of our great city.” And, for the city often identified as the birthplace for the infamous anti-immigrant Prop 187, Gloria says: “We are moving toward a new San Diego that is inclusive of all people. A city where everyone can make a life for themself.” Gloria would be the first openly LGBTQ person and the first person of color elected mayor in the eighth largest city, of particular intersectional interest since San Diego is a border city immediately adjacent to Baja California and Tijuana Mexico. “My upbringing as the son of a maid and gardener very much colors my point of view on what we can and should be doing for San Diego,” Gloria says of his mixed Native American, Filipino, Dutch, Puerto Rican heritage. “My parents are incredible people, hard working folks with high school educations who, despite significant

challenges, were able to build a life - buy a home, put their two kids through college.” Gloria officially came out to his parents at 18, though he jokingly says he was never “in” the closet since he and apparently everyone at school knew he was gay. But he survived those difficult times to go on and graduate summa cum laude from the University of San Diego, having majored in history and political science. “My concern is that that story is not as easily replicable today because of the challenges San Diego has not taken head on,” he says. “We had a recent report where there’s 40,000 San Diego young people in their late teens and early 20s who are completely disconnected from the worlds of education and the world of work. Those are young people who are going un-utilized in our economy and that’s a missed potential towards the vision I have of a great city.” Gloria says he wants to “keep that ladder of opportunity in place. I want to rebuild it where it may have been broken. I believe it

because I’ve experienced it and I want others to have that same experience. And right now I think there’s good reason to doubt that that ladder exists. But my goal, my ambition, my vision is to rebuild it – not just for queer kids of color like me but really for every person who is going to work hard in San Diego.” Relatable compassion matters. “Anyone who has grown up LGBT publicly comes out with two qualities,” he says. “One is compassion because what we often experience really allows us to feel other people’s experience and understand and relate to them. When you’ve gone through junior high—it’s a difficult experience so there’s a level of compassion that many of us bring to our work. I certainly feel that.” Second, “there’s also a level of strength,” Gloria says. “If you can get through adolescence, through high school, through the worlds of work and career—it is not always easy. There are often daily challenges about whether you come out to those you’re interacting with—what is the risk involved in

Profile for Los Angeles Blade

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 13, March 29, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 13, March 29, 2019

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 13, March 29, 2019  

Losangelesblade.com, Volume 3, Issue 13, March 29, 2019

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