Todd Gloria made history as he was sworn in as San Diego’s mayor Thursday, becoming the first out member of the LGBTQ+ community and first person of color to hold the post on anything but an interim basis.
Gloria, a gay Democrat who was interim mayor in 2013-2014, took the oath of office before the San Diego City Council in a Zoom ceremony conducted by Council President Pro Tem Barbara Bry, who ran against him for mayor in November, NBC affiliate KNSD reports.
After taking the oath, Gloria thanked his parents, Linda and Phil Gloria, noting his working-class roots as “the son of a hotel maid and a gardener.” A San Diego native, he is of Filipino, Dutch, Puerto Rican, and Native American heritage.
He then thanked his partner, Adam Smith; his past and present staff members; and his mentors, including Susan Davis, for whom he worked when she was a member of Congress; Toni Atkins, a former San Diego City Council member who is now president pro tempore of the California Senate; “and, of course, our trailblazer — who broke San Diego’s rainbow ceiling — Christine Kehoe. Thank you all so very much.” Kehoe, a lesbian, was also a City Council member and was the first out elected official in the city or San Diego County. Atkins, likewise a lesbian, is the first member of the LGBTQ+ community to lead the state Senate.
“My fellow San Diegans, it is with pride that I stand before you today as the 37th mayor of our city,” he continued. “I’m humbled by your support; I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve; I’m hopeful about the future of our city. Today is the day that we start building a San Diego that is truly for all of us.”
Last year, Gloria told The Advocate his priorities as mayor will include affordable housing, public transportation, and other infrastructure projects. In his address Thursday, he also promised aggressive action to address COVID-19. He is a former San Diego City Council member and most recently a member of the California Assembly. In the mayor’s office, he succeeds Kevin Faulconer, who was term-limited. City elections are officially nonpartisan, but Gloria served in the Assembly as a Democrat, while Faulconer identifies as a Republican. Gloria finished first in last year’s primary against candidates with both Republican and Democratic backgrounds; under California’s top-two system, the two top candidates in the primary advance to the general election, regardless of party. Bry identifies as a Democrat as well.
San Diego, the second-largest city in California and the eighth-largest in the U.S., is now the second-largest in the nation with a mayor from the LGBTQ+ community and the largest ever to have an out gay man as mayor. Lori Lightfoot, a lesbian, is mayor of Chicago, the third-largest city in the nation, so it’s the biggest with an out mayor. Annise Parker, a lesbian who is now president and CEO of the LGBTQ Victory Fund, was mayor of Houston, the fourth most populous U.S. city, from 2010 to 2016. Ed Koch, a closeted gay man, was mayor of New York City, the nation’s largest, from 1978 to 1989. He died in 2013, after which people who knew him well acknowledged publicly that he was gay.