LONG BEACH, Calif. — Residents of Long Beach, Calif., on Tuesday elected Robert Garcia their next mayor, making him the city’s first openly gay and Latino chief executive.
Garcia defeated opponent Damon Dunn, capturing 52.1% of the vote to Dunn’s 47.9%.
Garcia immigrated to the United States from Peru with his family at 5 years old. After graduating from California State University, Long Beach and becoming the first in his family to graduate from college, he went on to receive a master’s degree from the University of Southern California.
Garcia’s political career began in 2008, when he founded the North Pine Neighborhood Alliance, an advocacy group for the city’s downtown residents and businesses. A year later, Garcia filled the City Council seat vacated by Bonnie Lowenthal when he defeated six other candidates.
“I know that there are certainly historical implications of my election,” Garcia said about his win Tuesday night, “I’m in this to be mayor of everyone, no matter the age or the color of their skin or who they love.”
Garcia will replace Mayor Bob Foster, who has held the position since 2006 when he takes office on July 15th.
Long Beach is the 36th largest city in the U.S., and the seventh largest in California.