SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — When Todd Gloria was sworn in as San Diego mayor last year he made history, becoming not only the first person of color to hold the office but the first to be openly gay.
He says it's a big responsibility.
"And it's one I take extremely seriously and I recognize there's a lot of people paid a significant price and sacrificed a lot in order to open the door for me to be able to serve," Mayor Gloria said.
And just as others opened doors for him, he wants to do the same.
"I may be the first but if I do my job right I won't be the last," added Gloria.
Before he was mayor, Gloria served on the San Diego City Council and as a California state assembly member.
His political aspirations started at a young age. He says he remembers very clearly something a teacher said.
"The teacher said there are two things you can't ever be if you ever want to be an elected official, he said number one is gay and to this day I don't know what number two was cause I was so astounded even in the 90s that someone would say that," Gloria said.
What that teacher didn't know was that Gloria had already volunteered on a successful political campaign for San Diego's first openly gay council member, Christine Kehoe.
"It was from that experience that I knew that he was wrong," said Gloria. "My hope is that the way that I do this work maybe gives a kid in a classroom, maybe hearing something that isn't right or isn't fair, just a sense of hope that it'll be OK and there is opportunity for them if they're willing to work hard."
Gloria says he's focused on improving the lives of all San Diegans and is looking at a number of ways to do that, including creating a brand new position.
"Currently recruiting our city's first chief equity officer this would be the initiative owner in our organization to ensure the policies procedures budgets programs that we do are run through a lens of equity, recognizing that what we do we can do better for marginalized communities," Gloria said.
And at the end of the day, that's one of the reasons Gloria says he got into politics in the first place, to fight for others, and now, to serve the people of America's Finest City.
"I'm grateful to be who I am precisely as I was made because it gave me the ability not just to be a public servant, but an advocate for people and I hope that's what a bring to this job," said Gloria.