Former Chula Vista City Councilwoman Mary Salas made history Tuesday when she was sworn in as the city’s first Latina mayor.
“It’s a great privilege to be to be the first anything, a trailblazer,” Salas told NBC 7. “But I hope that people realize first and foremost I’m the most qualified to be the mayor of Chula Vista through all my experience, both professionally and politically.”
Mary Casillas Salas’ path to become mayor stems from a history of family service to her East County hometown.
Joseph Casillas Elementary School was named after her uncle, a POW known for his community involvement. Her uncle Armando, also known as AY, served on the school board and even ran for city council.
Salas counts him as one of her early political influences.
“At gatherings, I would bring up political things. I’m sure there’s some influence there," said Armando.
First elected to the city council in 1996, Salas has served three terms as a councilmember and worked for the state assembly.
She said the political bug hit her at the age of 37, when she went to college at San Diego State University to motivate her two daughters.
Now at the age of 66, she has the power to be an inspiration to so many more as the first Latina mayor.
When voters ask about her Latino agenda, she talks about being inclusive to all, getting more public input and more civic engagement.
She also wants to carry out development plans laid out by previous administrations.
“That’s the development of the bay front with the hotel and convention center, the establishment of a four-year university and the millennium project that’s being built in the east and urban center, and that’s going to create thousands and thousands of jobs,” said Salas.
While serving in her new seat, she said she’s committed to creating walkable communities in Chula Vista – one reason she has moved into the downtown.
Salas plans to use her background in economic development to spark continued growth in the area and across the city.
“We certainly have to set a goal and be proactively seeking those businesses out, and that’s what I’m going to do,” the new mayor said.