Long Beach’s current and future Congressional representatives landed central roles in party leadership elections this week.
Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán, D-San Pedro, who represents much of North Long Beach in Congress, was the lead nominator Wednesday for New York Rep. Hakeem Jeffries to be the minority leader of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Jeffries takes over the Democratic leadership position from Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who served as both Speaker of the House and minority leader since 2007, but stepped aside after Republicans regained control of the chamber in the Nov. 8 election.
The 52-year-old Jeffries was elected to the post unanimously in a closed-door meeting Wednesday morning. He is the first Black person to lead one of the two major U.S. political parties in Congress.
“Hakeem Jeffries is a defender of democracy, a masterful messenger, a sophisticated legislator, a tough impeachment prosecutor, and compassionate champion for the people,” Barragán said in her speech. “This is a historic day filled with promise and new beginnings. I proudly place his name into nomination.”
The incoming Democratic leadership is also considerably younger than Pelosi and her lieutenants, all of whom are over 80 years old.
Jeffries leadership team also includes Massachusetts Rep. Katherine Clark, 59, as the Democratic whip and California Rep. Pete Aguilar, 43, as caucus chairman.
Meanwhile, outgoing Long Beach Mayor and Congressman-Elect Robert Garcia was elected by his peers to serve as House Freshman Class President of the 118th United States Congress. He is the first openly-LGBTQ+ person to hold this position.
“It’s an incredible honor to have been elected Freshman Class President,” said Garcia. “We have important work ahead of us and I’m looking forward to the strength our class will bring to the Democratic Caucus and the country.”
Garcia is the first openly gay person to serve in this role. He is also the first openly LGBTQ immigrant to serve in Congress.
City News Service contributed to this report.