Hearing from Mayor-Elect Robert Garcia
Two weeks ago, I got to attend an event where the Mayor-Elect of Long Beach, Robert Garcia – who will be installed next week – spoke. Garcia will not only be the first Latino mayor of Long Beach, but also the first homosexual mayor of Long Beach. On top of those, he also may be the youngest mayor of Long Beach, as well. However, from the event two weeks ago, it appeared that his youth will help him, as he seems to have a great amount of energy.
Two issues about which he spoke – in the questions-and-answers portion – were that the single most important issue to him is the port and making sure that it stays appealing for business, so that the 30,000+ jobs stay there. Additionally, of interest, he also mentioned that the 2nd+PCH project should be making a proposal within the next six months, about which he is excited, saying that, instead of the current “eyesore” which is there (referring to the Seaport Marina Hotel (also home to Shul by the Shore)), it would be great if there was a mixed-use property there, including many shops and restaurants, where people could easily walk over to the Marketplace or over to the Marina Pacifica Shopping Center.
But the most interesting piece of the night was sharing with the group about his identity. While he spent the first five years of his life in Lima, Peru before his family coming over to the United States, “the best day” of his life was “becoming a US citizen”, which also occurred when he enrolled at CSULB. However, while having been raised Catholic, his father’s mother, he discovered was a Jewess. Since his parents divorced when he was young and he did not have much interaction with his father’s side of the family for years, until he was an adult, he has tried to have more of a relationship and speak with his grandmother. In addition to that connection with his grandmother, he also mentioned that he went on a trip to Israel four years ago for Latino leaders, co-sponsored by the Israeli Consulate in Los Angeles and The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, where he got a sense of the situation in Israel.
Also in his talk, he pointed out the great opportunities for Long Beach, such as that it has the only downtown by water between San Diego and San Francisco, it is a top 40 city in the US, crime is at a 40-year low, and that Long Beach just had its first budget surplus in 10 years! He also pointed out that his alma mater, California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) is the CSU campus that receives the most applications and, behind University of California, Los Angeles, is the second-most applied to public university in California, making it a very sought-after university. He is excited to be able to take these great opportunities with him into his first term.