Robert Garcia announced that he will be stepping down from the Metro board of directors. Garcia was elected Mayor of Long Beach in 2014, and re-elected in 2018. He is Long Beach's first elected openly gay mayor and the city's first person of color and first Latin American mayor. Garcia has served as the Gateway Cities representative on the Metro board since early 2017.
Garcia announced his intentions in a message to the Gateway Cities Council of Governments:
Friends and members of the Gateway COG,
Yesterday, Long Beach Councilmember Rex Richardson was elected by mayors across the region to serve on the AQMD. We are excited for Councilmember Richardson and his leadership for the Gateway COG.
I have spoken at length with Councilmember Richardson and we have agreed that it’s important for these roles to be shared amongst the region. Mayor Elizabeth Alcantar is a tremendous leader and voice for California.
His election yesterday has changed my thinking on Long Beach’s role on the Metro Board. While it was my intention to run for re-election to the Metro Board, and I appreciate your support, I’m going to give another leader an opportunity to represent us at Metro.
I really love the work, but I have some other opportunities ahead that I would like to pursue.
Thank you all a bunch, and I look forward to continuing to work with you as Mayor of Long Beach in the important work that we do in support of our collective communities.
On the Metro board, Garcia has been a progressive voice. He championed the 'New Blue' Metro A (former Blue) Line rehabilitation to improve speed and reliability. This year, Garcia was a strong voice against Metro taking out homes to widen the 605 and 5 Freeways.
There is plenty of speculation about those "other opportunities" that Garcia "would like to pursue." Garcia championed the campaign of President-Elect Joe Biden and may be considering some role in the incoming Biden administration.
Correction added 12/15: The Long Beach Mayor's Deputy Chief of Staff Justin Ramirez notes that Garcia is not actually "stepping down" but in fact "just not running for another term. He is serving his full term and not really stepping down." Ramirez is correct, Garcia is not resigning, but finishing serving his term. Streetsblog has left our initial phrasing in place. In an era when many Metro regional representatives are returned to the board for several consecutive terms, Garcia choosing not to run for another board term is more or less, in effect, stepping down.