By Sunnivie Brydum
Originally published on Advocate.com June 04 2014 1:41 PM ET
Residents of Long Beach, Calif., elected Robert Garcia mayor in Tuesday's city election, marking the first time an openly gay man will serve as the city's chief executive.
When he takes office July 15, Garcia will also become the city's first Latino mayor, after defeating his fellow Democratic opponent Damon Dunn, with 52.1 percent of the vote, according to the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund. Tuesday's election was a runoff between Garcia and Dunn, who defeated eight other contenders in an April primary. If elected, Dunn would have become the city's first African-American mayor.
Garcia will take the office from outgoing mayor Bob Foster, who has served since 2006, and for whom Garcia served as vice mayor since July 2012. Garcia has been a member of the Long Beach City Council since 2009, and at age 36, is also the youngest person ever elected mayor of Long Beach, according to NBC Los Angeles affiliate KNBC.
Garcia, who immigrated to the U.S. from Peru with his family when he was 5 years old, acknowledged the historic nature of his election but stressed that he will work to represent all of Long Beach's residents, which numbered 467,892 according to the 2012 U.S. Census (the last year for which data is available). Long Beach, which sits just south of Los Angeles, is the California's seventh largest city and the nation's 36th largest, according to Victory Fund.
"I think you run, not necessarily to be the first, I know that there are certainly historical implications of my election," Garcia told KNBC. "I’m in this to be mayor of everyone, no matter the age or the color of their skin or who they love."
In other California political news, the race for state controller was too close to call as of press time. Out former State Assembly speaker John Perez, a Democrat, and Republican businessman David Evans were in a dead heat for second place, with about 22 percent of the vote each, and state tax board member Betty Yee, another Democrat, was close behind with 21 percent, according to Capital Public Radio. Republican Ashley Swearengin, the mayor of Fresno, appeared to have first place wrapped up with 24 percent of the vote. Under California's "top two" primary system, the first- and second-place finishers, regardless of party, will face each other in the general election in November.
Watch KNBC's interview with Garcia below.