Todd Gloria speaks with reporters after early returns show him leading Stephen Whitburn in the District 3 City Council race.
san diego
Gloria wins District 3 City Council seat
Gloria 54, Whitburn 46
Published Thursday, 06-Nov-2008 in issue 1089
Todd Gloria emerged victorious Tuesday in the District 3 City Council race, which has divided District 3 for more than a year.
After 17 months of campaigning for the highly-contested seat, the 30-year-old City Heights resident will take his spot as the youngest member elected to the City Council when Councilmember Toni Atkins terms out and vacates the position later this month.
Gloria is the first openly gay man elected as the councilmember for District 3. In June’s primary, Carl DeMaio, from District 5, was the first openly gay man elected to the City Council.
In an early victory speech near election headquarters at Golden Hall in Downtown, Gloria thanked the District 3 residents who voted for him.
“I have spent the past 17 months harassing them, knocking on their doors, calling them, having coffee in their homes, doing all the things to try to reach out and hear what’s really important,” Gloria said, noting he understands residents are concerned about infrastructure and public safety.
“It’s very clear to me that they have given me a very clear set of marching orders. I will work on those issues when I get down to City Hall very shortly.”
Gloria, who has served as a District Director for Rep. Susan Davis for the past eight years has been working toward this win for much longer.
“Amiss good fortune, divine intervention, I met a woman when I was 14 years old and her name is Susan Davis. She taught me what it means to be a public servant,” Gloria said.
Councilmember Atkins was among those who packed the third floor of the Westgate Hotel to support Gloria.
“I think that Todd has the ability to hit the ground running and he has the experience, and he’s going to need it,” said Atkins, who endorsed Gloria in early October. “The city is going into the budget cuts that are being proposed tomorrow and we need someone who has experience, and he does.”
Gloria also had the endorsement of both firefighters and law enforcement officers.
“The firefighters have always been involved in the community in District 3 and when we heard he was running we couldn’t get on board quick enough,” said firefighter John Thomson.
Months earlier Thomson was walking precincts campaigning alongside Gloria.
“I’m proud of him and the campaign he ran; he kept it upbeat, he stayed positive and he was out there,” Thomson said. “Todd understands the issues; he’s just a common-sense approach kind of guy. He’s not too far left, he’s not too far right; he looks at everything. He’s pragmatic, he knows the right thing to do and he does it. He has integrity.”
After his speech, Gloria and his chanting supporters swarmed San Diego County election headquarters at Golden Hall.
Whitburn and a smaller group of supporters did not make an appearance at the election headquarters for another two hours. When he did, it was only for a short period of time.
Whitburn, who was in good spirits, said he still had a chance at 11:30 p.m. when polls showed him trailing by nearly 10 percent of the vote.
“I admit I would rather be ahead at this time,” Whitburn said. “But there are still so many votes out.”
After approximately 10 minutes at Golden Hall, Whitburn’s camp headed back to its headquarters a few blocks away. The small group chanted “We want Whitburn,” as they marched through the streets of Downtown.
By Tuesday’s end, Gloria was confident and pleased.
“I feel very humbled in this whole experience,” he said. “This is really rewarding. All my friends, all my family, all my supporters – people who I really care for a lot are all here with me. It’s great that everyone is here and that we can all enjoy this moment together.”
When asked what he was most looking forward to on the day following the election, Gloria laughed and said, “Cleaning my house. It’s filthy.”
“It goes without saying that those of us who supported Stephen Whitburn are personally disappointed with the results,” said Alex Sachs, who worked with and supported the Whitburn campaign.
“I don’t know anything in particular from Gloria’s campaign resonated with voters, but from my perception they were consistent throughout the election going door-to-door and speaking with residents. They ran a good ground campaign,” he said.
Campaign funding, however was highly scrutinized by both sides.
Gloria was accused of accepting funds from lobbyists, while Whitburn loaned his campaign a large sum of money.
A last minute anti-Whitburn campaign tactic sent out by the San Diego Voter Education Project to aid Gloria outraged some District 3 residents, with one filing a complaint with the state Fair Political Practices Commision.
The complaint, however, will have no effect on the election results.
On Wednesday, Whitburn said he made contact with Gloria to congratulate the District 3 Councilmember-elect on his victory.
“He worked very hard for this for a long time and had a great deal of support,” Whitburn said. “I congratulate his supporters as well.”
Whitburn also thanked those who supported him during the race.
“I’m proud of the way we ran our campaign. I’m tremendously grateful to the 18,000 people who supported us with their votes,” he said.
But now that the campaign has ended, what’s next for Whitburn?
“I’ll be right back out there with everyone else trying to do good things in the community,” he said.
Whitburn will continue to serve on the North Park Planning Committee, as well as continue to advocate for stronger neighborhoods, a priority that drove his campaign.
When asked if San Diego politics has seen the last of him, Whitburn said, “I certainly plan to continue to join everybody working for the things we believe in.”
Joining Gloria at City Hall next month will also be Democrat Marti Emerald who won in District 7 and Democrat Sherri Lightner who won District 1.

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