By Nicole Murray Ramirez
Former police officer, Marine, mayor, and now popular Chula Vista councilman, proud father and gay Latino, Steve Padilla is one happy man who loves being a public servant for the citizens of the second-largest city in San Diego County, Chula Vista.
Steve remembers his first day at elementary school in Chula Vista and growing up in the city that he loves. He proudly served in the Marine Corps and joined the Police Department after, rising to police detective handling child abuse and domestic violence cases. Steve married and had the love of his life, his daughter Ashleigh, who now works for Congressman Andy Levin, 49th District of California. For his entire life, Padilla faced conflicts with his sexual orientation and soon divorced his wife, who he now has a great relationship with.
At the age of 30, he was elected to the Chula Vista City Council and served on the prestigious Board of Port Commissioners. Padilla soon established a solid record of serving the citizens of Chula Vista and was rewarded by being elected the mayor of Chula Vista.
In 2005, at the annual Stonewall Rally of San Diego Pride, he made the decision to publicly come out of the closet for the first time after discussions with then-California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, who introduced him as the “now openly gay mayor of Chula Vista,” which received a prolong ovation from the huge crowd. Mayor Padilla’s coming out at Pride received media attention and did not sit well with many of the conservative citizens of Chula Vista. Many political pundits agreed that his coming out had a negative affect when he was not re-elected mayor. Padilla took nearly eight years off from elected politics and spent his time helping nonprofit organizations.
Padilla was urged to run for City Council and this time did so as a proud, openly gay Latino and was re-elected. He now serves as vice-chair of the prestigious California State Coastal Commission and on the Equality California Institute Board. Now, many Chula Vista citizens are urging him to run for the state Senate in 2022. And knowing Steve Padilla, he will answer their call to serve and fight for all the citizens of California.