Inside USD

USD Alum Heads to City Hall

Monday, November 24, 2008

On December 8, 2008, Todd Gloria will become San Diego’s newest councilman. The University of San Diego alumnus will succeed Councilmember Toni Atkins and represent the city’s historic District 3.

Bright-eyed and youthful, Gloria, age 30, would not seem out of place in a USD classroom. He is young but hardly naïve, having successfully led the city’s movement for change this November. “If you care about something you should work hard to make it better,” explains Gloria with enthusiasm. “Both my parents have told me this while growing up and I believe this applies to anything in life.”

Gloria, a third generation District 3 native, has long been passionate about politics. “Since the third grade,” he says. Gloria, a graduate of Hawthorne Elementary and Claremont’s James Madison High, double majored in history and political science at USD. He paid tuition by working part time for the County of San Diego’s Health and Human Services Agency. In 1999, Gloria received the prestigious Harry S Truman Scholarship, awarded to recognize college juniors with exceptional leadership potential who are committed to careers in government, the nonprofit or advocacy sectors, education or elsewhere in the public service. In 2000 Gloria graduated Summa Cum Laude. “Academically,” Gloria reflects, “the University of San Diego is outstanding.” Gloria credits his major for honing his writing skills. “Politics is largely about communicating your message. Being able to write well is key.” The university’s emphasis on social justice gave him a sense of purpose and helped him succeed. “Community service helped me connect on a different level,” he explains.

After completing his degree, Gloria worked eight years with Congresswoman Susan Davis, his childhood mentor. Working for Davis refined his political skills. “Working for Susan I’ve learned that listening is the most important skill for a politician to have,” recalls Gloria. “Susan was a social worker, which really is perfect experience for an elected official. Our job is to listen to people. What can we do to make your life better?”

While working with Congresswoman Davis, Gloria served his community in other ways. In 2005, having earned a city council appointment to the San Diego Housing Commission, he guided public assistance for almost 75,000 families. Currently he serves on the Board of Directors of the San Diego Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Community Center. He also fights crime in City Heights as a resident panelist on the Mid City Prostitution Impact Panel. Community contact encouraged Gloria to run for city office. “I began to think that maybe I had something to offer,” says Gloria.

After more than a year of campaigning Gloria is eager to take office. “After talking about the issues for seventeen months I am more than ready to start working.” Gloria will enter office with some new ideas on how to improve San Diego’s quality of life. The councilman-elect believes crime is one of San Diego’s most pressing short-term problems. Recently, 200 police officers have left the San Diego Police Department, and there has been a rise in crime. Gloria believes this increase can be curbed by assigning officers to only patrol specific communities. As he describes, this will create a “community liaison” for each neighborhood, a police officer that is familiar with the areas problems. “People are more compelled to tell the police their problems after they establish a personal connection with an officer,” says Gloria. “We can also set up more police storefronts in local parks and other locations to deter crime before it happens.”

Another issue facing the city arises from the battle with other metropolitan areas over water supply. Currently San Diego shares the Colorado River’s water shed with Los Angeles and Las Vegas, making it difficult for the city to keep up with growing consumption. Gloria believes that sustainable development and smart consumption are the keys to managing the problem before it becomes an emergency. Gloria speaks highly of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building rating system. “We need to make sure new buildings are meeting the LEED standards,” says Gloria.The key to reducing consumption, he says, is green education.

Gloria’s District 3 includes Balboa Park. A national historic landmark, the park may be in peril. Gloria warns that some buildings have structural problems. “Right now Balboa Park has a quarter of a billion dollars worth of deferred maintenance. Generations ago, San Diegans had enough foresight to give us Balboa Park and we need to preserve it.” Gloria says. “It’s worth saving.”

Gloria, an Obama supporter, connects the future of San Diego to the President-elect’s vision of change. “The message is clear: we need real, visionary leadership at City Hall that will stand up for our district’s diverse communities and face headlong the challenges that San Diego is confronted with today.”

Todd Gloria and the other councilmen-elect will be inaugurated on Monday, December 8, 2008 at 10 a.m., Golden Hall, Civic Concourse in downtown San Diego.

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