Stockton fire fighter takes on new role as San Joaquin County Supervisor candidate 

Stockton, CA Local 456 President Mario Gardea, a third-generation fire fighter, is running for San Joaquin County Supervisor District 1 in the November general election.

May 22 • 2024

Mario Gardea, a lifelong resident of San Joaquin County and proud father of four daughters, is not your typical politician. With 20 years of dedicated service as a fire engineer with the Stockton Fire Department, Gardea’s decision to run for San Joaquin County Supervisor District 1 stems from a deep-rooted desire to serve his community. 

“I’m a regular blue-collar son of Stockton,” said Gardea.  

His role as president of Stockton, CA Local 456 and the challenges he encountered in local politics significantly influenced his decision to enter the race. 

 “My career path was never to be a politician,” he explained. “But I’ve always been a believer that if you don’t like the way things are, you should be part of the solution.” 

In a competitive race, Gardea’s campaign surged ahead, conquering hurdles along the way. 

“I had a primary election back in March where I received 42 percent of the votes. There were five people in my race, so the top two vote-getters move on to the election in November,” he said. “My goal was to get 50 percent, but with five candidates, it was going to be mathematically tough to do so. My second goal was to win by a large margin. Fortunately, I was able to win, and I’m blessed to have the brothers and sisters of the IAFF to support me.”  

I’ve always been a believer that if you don’t like the way things are, you should be part of the solution.

mario gardea, fire engineer, local 456 president

Gardea clinched his position in the November runoff with the help of Local 456 and FIREPAC, the IAFF’s political action fund.  

“One of the most challenging aspects of this campaign has been reaching out to brothers, sisters, family, and friends in the community for financial support because running a successful campaign requires substantial funding,” he said. “It’s been particularly difficult for me because I’ve never had to ask anyone for monetary assistance before. However, I’m grateful for the support I’ve received from my fellow brothers and sisters internationally.” 

As he moves forward with his campaign, Gardea is committed to bringing his expertise in public safety to the forefront. 

“I’m a hands-on person, and what I want to do is hold people accountable for their positions,” he said.  

Learn more about Gardea’s campaign here