Long Beach's 1st Latino, openly gay mayor takes office

LONG BEACH, Calif. (KABC) -- In an historic night, Long Beach's first Latino and openly gay mayor took the oath of office on Tuesday.

To kick off inaugural events, Mayor Robert Garcia and the new city council received a Navajo blessing as part of the interfaith service at Assumption Greek Orthodox Church earlier in the day.

"I'm a person of faith myself so having this interfaith service this morning for all of our leaders and having a blessing on everyone was really special," Garcia said. "It's a great way to start the day and a really great day for Long Beach on inauguration day."

Garcia was joined by new council members Lena Gonzalez, Suzie Price, Stacy Mungo, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson, as well as the city's attorney, prosecutor, and auditor. All elected officials took office alongside the 36-year-old Garcia, who is also the youngest mayor in the city's history.

"Being 36 also gives me a different perspective. I understand what technology does, how technology can change our city, I understand what we have to do," Garcia said. "I have the energy to make sure that we are competing for those jobs in the region, the economic engine of really the U.S. is the port of Long Beach and Los Angeles, so understanding that and moving the city forward, I think that's why I got elected."

Garcia, who was born in Peru and immigrated to the U.S. when he 5, is the first in his family to have graduated from college. He's taught communications studies at Cal State Long Beach and Long Beach Community College, and co-founded the Long Beach Post.

Having served on the city council since 2009, Garcia is familiar with the challenges facing Long Beach and says he's ready to tackle them.

"I want to make sure Long Beach is the city of the future, that we're prepared to meet all of the challenges of the new economy, the changing economy, that we're attracting high-tech jobs, good jobs, for all of our residents," he said.

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