San Diego elected officials reacted with hope and optimism to Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, with local leaders saying it represented a unifying chapter for the country in an era of increasing divisiveness.
Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Diego, called it “an extraordinary honor” to attend the inauguration.
“After four painstaking years, we now have leaders in the White House who will serve all Americans with dignity, honor and respect,” Levin said.
“President Biden will seek to unite and heal our country, which is in mourning from a pandemic that has taken the lives of more than 400,000 Americans and an attack on our democracy that tested our nation.”
He also congratulated Harris, saying he was “very excited to have a fellow Californian” in the White House, and crediting her with helping address local issues such as pollution in the Tijuana River Valley, securing eroding coastal bluffs and improving housing for military families.
Rep. Juan Vargas, D-San Diego, said Biden “will work for all Americans, no matter where they came from, what they look like, or who they love. I trust that the new administration will do everything in their power to guide us to be more united and put America first.”
Vargas, who attended the inauguration with his youngest daughter, called Harris’ historic inauguration as the first female, black and South Asian vice president “a historic win for girls and women of color, who will finally see themselves represented in the White House.”
The state’s youngest congressional representative, Rep. Sara Jacobs, D-San Diego, had similar thoughts.
“As a young woman growing up, it was so meaningful for me to see women in positions of leadership across San Diego and California,” she said. “I’m so excited that kids across this country will be able to see themselves represented in leadership.”
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Bonsall, who two weeks ago was one of 147 Republicans who voted to overturn the results of the Nov. 3 election, struck a conciliatory tone.
“Every Inauguration Day is a celebration of our enduring democracy — and today continues that uniquely American tradition,” he said, noting that he’s known Biden for more than 20 years.
Issa said he welcomes Biden’s “words of unity, and the country stands to benefit if he keeps the promises he made during the campaign to bring us together. Today is also a time to pray for our nation and its success. May God continue to bless America.”
Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego, said the inauguration “marks a new beginning for our country. The words of President Biden provided the comfort and resolve we needed, especially after the difficult days our nation has endured. I know this new administration will lead with courage, respect and conviction.”
San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria said he was “filled with a renewed sense of hope and optimism for the future of our country under the leadership of President Joe Biden and, my friend, Vice President Kamala Harris.”
“Together, I know they will provide compassionate leadership and a steady hand to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, economic uncertainty, climate change and the fight for racial justice,” Gloria said. “San Diego is ready to stand with this new administration as true partners as we rebuild our nation. Now it is time for all of us to come together, heal and move forward.”
The representatives also offered positive reactions to Biden’s flurry of Day One executive orders, which reversed many of his predecessor’s actions.
Peters said Biden’s order to rejoin the Paris Agreement showed “our country begins the process of making up lost time in leading the world on climate action. It’s the first of many steps we must take to fight global warming and renew global cooperation to confront the climate crisis.”
Gloria said rejoining the Paris Agreement is one of several steps “critical to combating climate change and ensuring a safe and clean future for our children and grandchildren.”
He also said Biden’s executive orders “set the tone that the United States will build back better. From revoking many of the past administration’s harmful executive orders to tackling COVID-19 head-on, President Biden is sending a strong message that our nation will continue the march of progress toward an America that lives up to its promise of equitable opportunity for all of us.”
Bishop Robert W. McElroy, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, echoed Pope Francis’ message to President Biden calling for “dialogue, not judgment; collaboration, not isolation; truth in charity, not harshness.”
— Staff and wire reports