LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia has launched a campaign for congress. He's the first Latino and first openly gay mayor in the history of Long Beach and would break even more barriers if he wins.
"I'm running for Congress and I'm carrying my mother with me," Garcia said in the YouTube video announcing his candidacy. "She came here never doubting that America was a place where her immigrant son could succeed. That's why today, I am fighting for every kid to get the same shot that this country gave me.''
Garcia lost his mother to COVID, and he's making her a centerpiece of his campaign.
"I was 5 years old when we immigrated here and she came here for the American dream," Garcia told Eyewitness News.
He is the first Latino and LGBTQ elected mayor in Long Beach history. Garcia spoke to Eyewitness News on Friday about what it means to run for Congress.
"I've always said that I'll always give back to this country that has given me and my family so much," the mayor said.
Garcia is seeking to fill the seat of Rep. Alan Lowenthal, who announced Thursday that he will retire at the end of the 117th Congress.
Garcia campaigned for Joe Biden during the 2020 presidential election. He has been praised for the way he dealt with COVID vaccinations. Long Beach was the first city in California to vaccinate educators.
"I support current vaccine policies in place and we got to continue to push. I know it's hard. I think everyone is tired of the pandemic but we've still got to work and keeping people safe," Garcia said.
In addition to COVID, the country is dealing with a number of issues such as inflation and delays at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
"One of the big reasons I'm running for Congress is to get the infrastructure dollars to California and to our ports here...We've got to have a worker driven economy, and you've got to make sure we're supporting people first," he said.
The current 47 District includes Long Beach and parts of Orange County. With re-districting, that is likely to change and move more toward Los Angeles County.
"Regardless of where the district lies, it's going to be a Long Beach based seat which includes cities like Lakewood, Signal Hill, Bellflower and certainly cities in south east Los Angeles, and so my intention is to represent everybody," he said.
Garcia said he will remain as mayor of Long Beach as he runs for this congressional seat.
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City News Service contributed to this report.