Senator Steve Padilla was elected to the Senate in November 2022, representing the counties of San Diego, Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino. Senator Padilla is a native of San Diego, a graduate of Bonita Vista High school, and lifelong Chula Vista resident.
Senator Padilla has dedicated his life to public service. Before becoming an elected official, he served 13 years in law enforcement, beginning in the City of Chula Vista and concluding in the City of Coronado, where he served as a Detective, specializing in domestic violence and child abuse. Senator Padilla’s interest in public affairs began early in life, as did his service to Chula Vista, where he served as a member of the Board of Ethics and Safety Commission. He was elected for the first time to the City Council in 1994 and served two terms. In 2002, Steve was elected the City’s 38th Mayor and served from 2002 – 2006. Senator Padilla returned to elected office in 2016 and, only one year later, was appointed for the second time to the California Coastal Commission, where he served as Chairman from 2019-2021.
Prior to being elected to the State Senate, Steve worked with a variety of private entities, non-profit organizations, and public interest groups advocating on economic development projects, and transportation, housing, environmental and social justice issues. In 2008, he served as a member of the Independent Task Force on U.S. Immigration Policy for the Council on Foreign Relations.
Senator Padilla is noted for being the first person of color ever elected to City office in Chula Vista history, the first Latino Mayor, and the first openly LGBT person to serve or be elected to city office. He holds undergraduate degrees in Liberal Arts and Public Administration from Southwestern College and National University, and studied law at Western State University, College of Law. He has been a published columnist writing on local, state, and national policy issues. Senator Padilla is proud father to Ashleigh, an accomplished professional in political and policy advocacy, and his son-in-law, Nelson, a former political staffer and current U.S. Naval officer.