Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
The San Diego History Center has announced its 2019 “Makers of San Diego History,” recognizing those in the San Diego region who are making history in their own time. The honorees are California Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins and former California Senator Christine Kehoe. These leaders have made and continue to make a positive, lasting impact on our region.
“San Diego is a culturally diverse and vibrant community,” said Bill Lawrence, San Diego History Center’s executive director and CEO. “As we look forward to what we want our community to look like in the future, we are honoring the struggles and triumphs of San Diego’s LGBT community along with two of our civic leaders who have made history in their own time by furthering inclusion and diversity. The San Diego History Center is more than a museum, it is a forum to discover, discuss, and determine why history matters today.”
Elected to the state Senate in 2016 after serving as speaker of the California state Assembly, Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins was the first openly gay Senate leader in state history. She represents the 39th District and served on the San Diego City Council from 2000-2008 and the state Assembly from 2010-2016. A leading voice for affordable housing, she is a powerful advocate for women, the LGBTQ community, military veterans, and people experiencing homelessness.
Christine Kehoe became San Diego County’s first openly LGBT elected official when elected to the San Diego City Council in 1993. She served as a Council member for District 3 until 2000 when she was elected to the California state Assembly and to the California state Senate in 2004. During her time in the state Legislature, she served as the California state Assembly speaker pro tempore — only the second woman to hold that title. She is also the founding chair of the LGBT Legislative Caucus.
Kehoe said that the San Diego History Center Makers Award is a wonderful recognition of her public service.
“To me, it marks my winning the 1993 San Diego City Council race becoming the first openly LGBTQ person elected to public office in the county,” Kehoe said. “I’m very honored to be sharing the Makers Award with my good friend Senator Toni Atkins, who is also an LGBTQ trailblazer. Senator Atkins currently serves as leader of the state Senate — a historic accomplishment.”
Kehoe added that she has worked together with Atkins since the early 1990s.
“She was instrumental in my ’93 campaign for office,” Kehoe continued. “Toni worked in the City Council office from day one. Toni then ran for and won the District 3 Council seat in 2000 setting the course for Assembly member [Todd] Gloria and Councilmember Chris Ward to follow. It’s a legacy I am very proud of. In addition, we now have Council President Georgette Gomez and Councilmember Jennifer Campbell on our roster of outstanding LGBTQ Council members.”
Kehoe had some advice for young LGBT politicians and voters.
“For anyone contemplating running for public office, I would say, ‘Go for it!’” Kehoe said. “There is no one recipe for success. If you have the desire to serve the public and protect the public trust, then you should run for office. There is no perfect time. As the recent elections have shown, you can run for office in your 20s, your 30s, your 70s! Are you committed to working seven days a week to win? Do you know what matters to your community? Then do it.
“To any voter I would say, ‘Never vote against your own civil rights,’” Kehoe continued. “If your candidate is squishy on any aspect of full LGBTQ equality, then find another candidate. All other issues rest on our full equal rights.”
The 2019 Makers of San Diego History event is set for March 23. A hosted Champagne reception will be held at the prestigious San Diego History Center in the heart of Balboa Park, followed by dinner and a program at The Prado. This event will recognize San Diego’s LGBT community for their struggles and triumphs. The proceeds from this event support the mission of The San Diego History Center with a focus on education and community impact. Tickets to the reception and dinner are $275.
Learn more at sandiegohistory.org/event/makers-2019.
—Albert Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.