Demographics

San Diego's Interim Mayor Shows How Much the City Has Changed


Todd Gloria enters the council chambers on Aug. 23, in San Diego

Photograph by Howard Lipin/San Diego Union-Tribune/ZUMA Press via CorbisTodd Gloria enters the council chambers on Aug. 23, in San Diego

Todd Gloria enters the council chambers on Aug. 23, in San Diego

After a summer of mounting sexual harassment claims, today is finally San Diego Mayor Bob Filner’s last day in office. The country’s seventh city will hold a special election to replace Filner in November, but until then, City Council President Todd Gloria will be the interim mayor. In a city that for decades elected mostly older, white male Republicans, Gloria in many ways shows the demographic and political changes in the region: He is a Democrat. He is 35. He comes from a multiethnic family. And he is openly gay.

Although Gloria and his family may perhaps be the only San Diegans with a Filipino-Dutch-Puerto Rican-native Alaskan heritage, the city as a whole has become more diverse. From 2000 to 2010, the city’s population grew almost 7 percent, while the population identifying as Asian went up almost 25 percent, according to U.S. Census data. People who say they’re Latino or Hispanic rose 21 percent. Gloria came out in college and became active in politics around gay and lesbian rights in the area, according to a profile in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The city has also become less Republican in recent years, and Filner was the first Democrat elected as mayor since 1992. In 2003, 36 percent of registered voters (pdf) in the city were Republican; that’s now down to 27 percent (pdf). As a sign of the times, one of the first big names to declare his mayoral candidacy is Nathan Fletcher, a former assemblyman who over the course of 14 months shifted from Republican to Independent and is now a Democrat. Gloria hasn’t said he’s going to run, but a “Recruit Todd Gloria for Mayor” campaign has more than 900 supporters on Facebook (FB).

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Weise is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in Seattle. Follow her on Twitter @kyweise.


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