LONG BEACH (CBSLA.com) — The city of Long Beach has its first Latino and openly gay mayor with the election of Councilman Robert Garcia.
Garcia, 36, narrowly beat out 38-year-old Damon Dunn with 52 percent of the vote. Less than 2,000 votes separated the two candidates.
Garcia was the youngest person elected to the City Council in 2009. With his election as mayor, he is also the city’s youngest chief executive.
On Wednesday, Garcia told CBS2’s Randy Paige he felt a responsibility to make the Latino and gay communities proud but also vowed to work for all his constituents.
“Certainly there’s a sense of responsibility there to make those communities proud, but I feel what’s really important, whats going to make those communites the most proud, is for me to succeed and for the city to succeed and I think the only way you do that is treating everyone equally,” Garcia said.
Garcia and his family moved to the United States from their native Peru when he was five.
“The government has to be there not just to provide services but it’s there to help people. It’s there to provide a helping hand for those who need it, its there to take care of people, make sure people are safe make sure we have services,” Garcia said.
The new mayor told Paige his immediate challenge is to hire a staff and he’s looking for bright people who share his vision. He told Paige he is also looking for people who are not afraid to disagree with him and offer different opinions.
He is the co-founder of the Long Beach Post and teaches public policy communications at USC.
Garcia will be sworn in on July 15th.