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About Steve Padilla

Growing up in working-class South County San Diego, Steve’s story is the story of so many — achieving the California Dream with community support, quality public schools and a fair shot to succeed.


Steve is passionate about ensuring that same opportunity for future generations. For Steve, this moment right now isn’t just about recovering from COVID — it’s about rebuilding opportunity for all.


A longtime leader in California, Steve Padilla’s priorities are delivering for communities like South County and Imperial County that have been hard hit by the pandemic, tackling income inequality and economic recovery, expanding access to healthcare, strengthening public education, leading on climate, and taking action to combat racial injustice.


Steve Padilla has spent his life in service to others and making life better in his hometown. At 18, he joined the Chula Vista Police Explorer Scouts ultimately becoming a Police Detective specializing in protecting seniors and kids from domestic violence and abuse.


Years later, Steve Padilla made history as Chula Vista’s first Latino and first LGBTQ Mayor, and previously, when he was elected to the City Council, was the first person of color ever to serve in city office. Steve also serves as Chairman of California’s Coastal Commission, the powerful state agency charged with environmental protection and conservation along our coast.


With over thirty years of dedicated service to community, Steve Padilla has built a reputation as a proven progressive leader able to build consensus to tackle complex challenges, including jump-starting Chula Vista’s Bayfront development to create 7,000 jobs in our region; leading state efforts at the Coastal Commission to combat sea-level rise; and helping pass Chula Vista’s COVID-19 eviction moratorium and small business relief programs.


Like so many families right now, Steve knows what it’s like to struggle. He lost his father at an early age and was a single parent to his daughter Ashleigh. And Steve came face to face with prejudice and discrimination when he came out as LGBTQ while serving as Chula Vista’s Mayor.


In March 2020, Padilla was the first elected official in California to test positive for COVID-19 and spent 3 weeks in UCSD Thornton Hospital’s ICU, including 11 days on ventilator. Recovering from COVID-19, and now working to help South Bay recover from this pandemic, has made Steve even more determined to make tomorrow better than today.


Steve is a graduate of Bonita Vista High, and the Southwestern Police Academy. He holds undergraduate degrees in Liberal Arts and Public Administration, and studied law at WSU College of Law. He lives in the Otay Ranch neighborhood of Chula Vista just a few miles away from his amazing daughter Ashleigh and son-in-law Nelson, and his dad Don who still lives in the same family home where Steve grew up.

Paid for by Steve Padilla for State Senate 2026

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