|Member of the U.S. House of Representatives|
from California's 42nd district
|Assumed office |
January 3, 2023[a]
|Preceded by||Ken Calvert (redistricted)|
|28th Mayor of Long Beach|
July 15, 2014 – December 20, 2022
|Preceded by||Bob Foster|
|Succeeded by||Rex Richardson|
|Vice Mayor of Long Beach|
July 17, 2012 – July 15, 2014
|Preceded by||Suja Lowenthal|
|Succeeded by||Suja Lowenthal|
|Member of the Long Beach City Council|
from the 1st district
May 5, 2009 – July 15, 2014
|Preceded by||Bonnie Lowenthal|
|Succeeded by||Lena Gonzalez|
|Born||December 2, 1977|
|Political party||Republican (before 2007)|
|Education||California State University, Long Beach (BA, EdD)|
University of Southern California (MA)
Robert Julio Garcia (born December 2, 1977) is an American educator and politician. He is the U.S. Representative for California's 42nd congressional district, as a member of the Democratic Party. He has also served as the 28th mayor of Long Beach, California from 2014 to 2022. A member of the Democratic Party, he was first elected in the 2014 election and won reelection in 2018. He is both the city's youngest and first elected openly LGBT mayor, as well as the first Latino American to hold the office. He is the second person of color to be elected mayor of Long Beach, after Republican Eunice Sato, a Japanese-American who served as mayor from 1980 to 1982.
A former member of the Long Beach City Council, Garcia was vice mayor from 2012 to 2014.
In December 2021, Garcia announced that he would be a candidate for the U.S. House of Representatives in 2022. The state lost a congressional district in redistricting for the first time ever, and incumbents Lucille Roybal-Allard and Alan Lowenthal both declined to run for re-election.
Garcia was born in Lima. He immigrated to the United States with his mother at age 5. His mother and aunt worked in many jobs, such as housekeepers, to support the family. Garcia attended California State University, Long Beach, where he became President of the Associated Students, was an active member of the Delta Chi fraternity, and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies.
He continued his education at the University of Southern California where he received a Master's Degree, and later became a public information officer at Long Beach City College. Garcia received his Doctor of Education degree in Educational Policy from California State University, Long Beach, in June 2010. He has taught courses in Communication and Public Policy at the University of Southern California, California State University, Long Beach, and Long Beach City College.
In 2007, Garcia founded the Long Beach Post, a website devoted to local news and sports reporting. The site soon became popular with local political figures and community leaders and gave Garcia increased local prominence. He sold the local website before being elected Mayor.
Garcia was the California Youth Coordinator for the George W. Bush 2000 presidential campaign. He also founded the Long Beach Young Republicans in 2005. Describing himself as socially liberal and fiscally conservative, Garcia guided and organized the Young Republicans, which developed a charter that was recognized as an official club by the Los Angeles County Republicans. Garcia also worked as an aide to Republican former vice mayor Frank Colonna when he was on City Council and ran Colonna's unsuccessful bid in the 2006 Long Beach, California mayoral election.
Garcia changed his party registration to Democratic in 2007 prior to being elected to office. He and his family originally registered as Republicans when they first became citizens due to President Ronald Reagan signing an amnesty bill.
In the past, Garcia has been accused of not embracing his time as a registered Republican. Though, more recently, he has also said he and his family were proud to partake in the American political process, especially the party of Ronald Reagan since it had helped them become citizens.
Prior to, and during, his election to the Long Beach City Council, Garcia was a member of the public policy and communications faculty at the University of Southern California, and taught Communication Studies at both California State University, Long Beach and Long Beach City College.
In 2009, Garcia defeated six other candidates, including a former First District Councilmember, to win the seat vacated when Bonnie Lowenthal was elected to the California State Assembly in 2008. He was reelected in April 2010 by a margin of more than 40 percentage points.
In July 2012, he was unanimously elected to a two-year term as Vice Mayor by the City Council, becoming the first Latino Vice Mayor in Long Beach and the youngest in the City's history.
During his time as a councilmember, Garcia authored or cosponsored more than 20 pieces of legislation, including the City's first Equal Benefits Ordinance, a ban on smoking at bus stops and at farmers' markets, a proposal to extend increased preferences to veterans in civil service hiring, and a broad-ranging arts initiative that eliminated restrictions on street performances, and reduced the business license tax for artists and other home-based businesses. He also showed support for both the business community and labor unions, voting to support Project Labor Agreements at the Long Beach Airport, Port of Long Beach and for the Gerald Desmond Bridge, supporting the expansion of the Middle Harbor Terminal, and working to improve infrastructure in commercial corridors. He has shown interest in government reform and fiscal accountability, and supported the City Manager's efforts to consolidate departments.
Garcia's support of the 2010 Long Beach Downtown Community Plan was criticized by some affordable housing advocates, who argued that the plan should be delayed to perform an economic study on affordable housing incentives. In response, Garcia argued that delaying the plan would be costly to the city, and that the economic study could be done separately. The plan passed the City Council, 7-2.
In 2011, Garcia spearheaded the effort to name a planned park in Long Beach's 1st District after murdered San Francisco Supervisor and LGBT civil rights icon, Harvey Milk. The park, since named Harvey Milk Promenade Park, was opened in 2013. Garcia has received national attention for his socially progressive views and the culturally diverse communities he represents, being young, Latino, and gay. Garcia was featured in CNN's 2009 special "Latino in America," and was named to the "40 under 40 list" by the national gay news magazine The Advocate.
In January 2013, Garcia was appointed to the California Coastal Commission.
In July 2013, after Bob Foster announced he would not seek re-election, Garcia announced his candidacy and entered the race for Long Beach Mayor. He received 25.4% of the vote in the April 8, 2014, election, finishing first in a field of 10 mayoral candidates. In the runoff election between Garcia and fellow candidate Damon Dunn (22.3% of the vote) on June 3, Garcia won with 52% of the vote, and took office on July 15, 2014
Garcia was reelected on April 11, 2018, with around 80% of the vote.
Garcia's first 100 days as mayor were characterized by a focus on education and seating commissioners to fill vacancies on citizen commissions. Garcia committed the City of Long Beach to joining local educational institutions as a signatory to the Long Beach College Promise, and announced a goal of universal preschool enrollment and doubling the number of internships in the city for local students. He appointed more than 60 commissioners, creating the most diverse slate of commissioners in the city's history. A majority of his appointments were women. His State of the City address used a large digital screen to display data and graphics, winning acclaim for its visual appeal and use of technology. The speech highlighted education, economic development, and sustainability, among other issues.
Garcia's focus on economic development has been exemplified by his revival of the inactive Economic Development Commission, and acquisition of a $3 million innovation grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies During his first term, construction on a new civic center began, and voters approved a temporary sales tax to support infrastructure and public safety, which Garcia initiated. Garcia has focused on economic development, public safety and infrastructure, education, technology, and building housing.
Since his time as mayor, Garcia has proposed 10 ballot initiatives for public safety, infrastructure, term limits, and creating ethics and redistricting commissions among other things; each have passed. This includes Measure BBB which created a finite number of terms which the Mayor can serve.
Garcia leads America’s second largest container port, the Port of Long Beach. During his tenure, he has worked to implement climate goals and has traveled the world to establish trade relationships with multinational companies and trading nations. This includes trade missions to Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore, Cambodia, Vietnam, Chile, Denmark, Peru, Switzerland and Germany.
He has also visited Peru and Honduras in partnership with the Victory Institute and the State Department on missions to expand LGBTQ rights worldwide. He has also visited both Israel and the West Bank.
Garcia fostered the first citywide Project Labor Agreement (PLA) between the City of Long Beach, the Los Angeles/Orange Counties Building and the Construction Trades Council to promote opportunities for local-hire on local-capital construction projects. Since its approval and implementation, 25 construction projects, valued at more than $146 million have been built by a local labor workforce.
Mayor Garcia also supported the unionization of cannabis and hotel workers, the organization of dock and port laborers, and has fought against attempts in the city to contract work outside of the community. He has also supported organized labor to increase workers’ minimum wage prior to the California State Legislature taking action. Most recently, he worked to pass the city’s first recall and retention plan in response to workers laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In 2015, Mayor Garcia signed the Global Covenant of Mayors, a global coalition working to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change. Following Garcia's lead, Long Beach continued its dedication to climate change action and developed its first-ever Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP). Through the CAAP, the City of Long Beach has partnered with over 30 local businesses to help reduce their environmental impacts. These Certified Green Businesses follow guidelines for energy and water conservation, pollution prevention, waste management, employee commute, and community education.
During his tenure, the Long Beach Port has closely adhered to the Clean Air Action Plan. And more recently, Long Beach made early decisions to ban Styrofoam, plastic straws, and plastic bags.
Garcia has said that he views access to health care as a fundamental human right and has been a strong supporter of Medicare for All. In 2020, Mayor Garcia, along with Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf formed Mayors 4 Medicare, a coalition of U.S. Mayors dedicated to ensuring people across the country have access to health care.
Under Garcia, Long Beach also launched the Long Beach Black Infant Health Program which aims to address the problem of poor birth outcomes affecting Black mothers and their infants.
In December 2017, Garcia endorsed Gavin Newsom for Governor making him the first elected Latino to do so.
In May 2019, Garcia joined Newsom, Representative Barbara Lee and others in becoming a California state co-chair for Kamala Harris's 2020 Presidential campaign. He was the only Mayor to join state leaders as a co-chair. In July 2020, after Harris bowed out of the Democratic primary and she and Garcia had endorsed Joe Biden, he went on to join the Latino Leadership Committee for the Biden campaign.
In July 2020 and inspired by the George Floyd protests, a petition to recall Mayor Garcia was approved by the Long Beach City Clerk. Activists cited Garcia’s "immoral leadership" and financial support from the Long Beach Police Officers Association, the union that represents local police. On November 9, 2020, the mayoral recall was canceled in the wake of the national election. Activist Franklin Sims claimed he and his supporters were being intimidated.
In August 2020, Garcia was selected as one of seventeen speakers to jointly deliver the keynote address at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. This made him, Sam Park, and Malcolm Kenyatta the first openly gay speakers in a keynote slot at a Democratic National Convention.
See also: 2022 United States House of Representatives elections in California § District 42
On December 22, 2021, Garcia announced his candidacy for California's 42nd congressional district in the United States House of Representatives in 2022. The district had previously been the 47th, represented by fellow Democrat Alan Lowenthal. However, Lowenthal and his colleague, Lucille Roybal-Allard, had both announced that they were not running for re-election as California lost a congressional seat for the first time in its history.. Congressman Garcia chose to swear his oath of office using the United States Constitution.
On December 22, 2018, Garcia married his longtime boyfriend, California State University, Long Beach professor Matthew Mendez.
In July 2020, Garcia's mother, Gaby O'Donnell, and stepfather, Greg O'Donnell, both died due to COVID-19.
|Evan Anderson Braude||826||31.24|
|William Francisco Grisolia||34||1.29|
|2014 Long Beach mayoral election|
|Steven Paul Mozena||230||0.49|
|Mineo L. Gonzalez||185||0.39|
|Richard Anthony Camp||107||0.23|
|Robert Garcia (incumbent)||31,112||78.78|
|James Henry "Henk" Conn||8,379||21.22|
Since its 434 members cannot be sworn in until a speaker is chosen, no one is officially a representative by title. [...] And not any of the 74 freshman lawmakers who were elected in November [...] All are, technically, representatives-elect.
Garcia, a Democrat from Long Beach, Calif., and a vocal comic book fan, was set to be sworn in Tuesday, but the ceremonies were postponed after House Republicans failed to elect a speaker.
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