Robert Garcia and Gerrie Schipske both want to be the next mayor of Long Beach, and if either one succeeds, they will be making LGBT history. The second-largest city in Los Angeles County has never had an openly gay mayor before.
The election does not take place until April 2014, but Garcia and Schipske—both current members of the Long Beach City Council—have been quick to jump into what could be a very crowded race. The mayoral position became available when current Mayor Bob Foster decided against running for a third term.
Other early candidates include businessman and former NFL player Damon Dunn, Long Beach City College Trustee Doug Otto and Jana Shields, founder of Highly Empowered Youth of Long Beach.
Garcia, currently the city’s vice mayor, would make more than LGBT if history if elected. At 35, he would also become the youngest mayor Long Beach has ever had and the first Latino to hold the post.
But Garcia tells Frontiers that achieving those historic firsts is not why he is running.
“I’m running to be mayor for everyone, regardless of race, sexual orientation, age and gender,” he says.
Though he adds, “Certainly I think [being gay] is something I know would be a point of pride for the gay community. I have always been aware of LGBT issues. I’ve been at the forefront of progressive issues while at the same time understanding that cities are run and survive in a good economic climate. I want to bring more synergy to our city’s schools and colleges. All of that is part of my campaign. I really want to continue all the great things happening in Long Beach and improve in other areas.”