Steve Padilla was a California politician. He served as mayor of Chula Vista from 2002 to 2006 after defeating Mary Salas. Prior to being mayor, Padilla served two terms on the city council from 1994 to 2002. Padilla lost his bid for reelection to Republican Cheryl Cox. Padilla is a Democrat. He is openly gay.[1]

Early life Edit

Born January 22, 1967 at the U.S. Naval Hospital San Diego, the oldest son of Carlos S. Padilla (d. 1971) of San Diego and Dorothy Mello (d. 1997) of Fall River, Massachusetts. Before his birth, his father joined the United States Marine Corps and was deployed to Vietnam. Upon returning home from his tour of duty, he father was killed in an automobile accident. Padilla's mother became a successful single mother and provided Padilla with a positive role model.

He was raised in the city of Chula Vista, CA just south of San Diego along with two male siblings Kevin and Jason, and later his sister Kimberly from the re-marriage of his mother to Donald Wroe of San Diego, CA. Showing an interest in community at an early age, he became active in organizations throughout his early life, which would later lead him to seek public office.

Padilla was a Cub Scout, a Boy Scout, and eventually got involved with the Chula Vista Police Explorer Scouts. After graduating from Bonita Vista High School, he became the youngest cadet accepted into the Southwestern Police Academy. A police officer for thirteen years, he was promoted to Detective, specializing in domestic violence and child abuse.

While a police officer, Padilla returned to school, received his bachelors degree in Public Administration. He served the city of Chula Vista on the Committee for Open Space and Environment, The Board of Ethics, and Safety Commission. While serving as a police officer for the City of Coronado, CA, he was President of the Police Officer's Association.

City Council Edit

Padilla was elected to the Chula Vista City Council in 1994. He was the first person of latino descent elected to that office in city history, despite the city's diverse population. In that year he was wed to the former Denise Trevorah of Tamaqua, PA and saw the birth of his daughter, Ashleigh. Padilla supported and helped bring about the hiring of a new City Manager and the implementation of a new city-wide ethics training. He won re-election by a large margin in 1998. Also in 1998, Padilla divorced and was awarded sole custody of his three-year-old daughter.

Mayor Edit

Padilla was elected the 38th Mayor of Chula Vista on November 5, 2002, defeating Mary Salas, a colleague and political ally. The race between the two democrats got nasty at times. Padilla sent a mailer criticizing Salas for using the term "gringo."[2] Salas later claimed it took two months after the election for their relationship to heal.[3]

As mayor, Padilla hosted an annual "Beautify Chula Vista Day" that rallies business owners and local volunteers to paint over graffiti and pick up litter on city and private properties. He also launched the Give a Book drive resulting in the donation of more than 100,000 books to underprivileged children throughout San Diego County. He is credited with re-energizing efforts to bring a four-year university to Chula Vista and building a diverse coalition of interests around a large waterfront development project for the city.

Padilla sought to focus on revitalization for the city's aging downtown area and the addition of parks and open spaces. He gained significant attention in the region while leading the city in an evaluation of options for energy independence, resulting from a very public battle and debate with the area's public utility, San Diego Gas & Electric. Working with the San Diego Unified Port District, Padilla was instrumental in initiating the Bay-front Master Plan, an effort to develop 500 oceanfront acres to accommodate public parks, hotels, restaurants, shops and new housing.

In July 2005, Padilla was appointed by the Speaker Fabian Nunez of the California Assembly to the California Coastal Commission. He served on the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG) Board of Directors, the regional transportation commission for the region, and chaired the SANDAG Public Safety Committee. As Chairman, Padilla worked with Law Enforcement, Homeland Security, and Fire and Emergency Medical professionals on issues of criminal justice and public safety for the region.

Post Mayoral Career Edit

Padilla was the CEO of the Solana Center for Environmental Innovation, an environmental non-profit in Encinitas, CA, from February - July 2008. He is currently the CEO and Principal of the Aquarius Group, Inc, a consulting organization that he founded.

References Edit

  1. Wockner, Rex (2005-08-01), “Suburban San Diego Mayor Comes Out”,, <>. Retrieved on 30 August 2007 .
  2. Council member to be honored at meeting | The San Diego Union-Tribune
  3. Council member to be honored at meeting | The San Diego Union-Tribune

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