City Councilman Robert Garcia will become Long Beach's first Latino and first openly gay mayor, with voters narrowly choosing him over a former professional football player-turned-businessman.
In a tight race that was too close to call until the final ballots were tallied, the 36-year-old Garcia emerged victorious with 52 percent of the vote. Less than 2,000 votes separated him from Damon Dunn, 38.
Garcia has been on the Long Beach City Council since 2009 and boasted a long list of endorsements, including from Foster and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. He also has the backing of Reps. Alan Lowenthal and Janice Hahn. He is a member of the California Coastal Commission and teaches public policy and communications at USC. He is also the co-founder of the Long Beach Post.
"When I joined the City Council in 2009, the city budget had a $40 million deficit and public employee pensions were spiraling out of control," he said. "Despite the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, I teamed up with Mayor Bob Foster and key City Council members to make city government leaner, more frugal and more effective."
Dunn is a former NFL and XFL player and real estate investor who was endorsed by ex-Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, the local Chamber of Commerce and firefighters. He billed himself as an outsider offering a fresh look at the city's operations.
"Long Beach can do better," he proclaimed on his campaign website. "We can grow our economy, create jobs and make Long Beach an even better place to live, work, learn and raise a family. It will take hard work and a new sense of community, accountability and dedication at City Hall."
--City News Service