Meet Point Loma’s Stephen Hill, COVID-19 senior advisor for San Diego Mayor Todd Gloria
Point Loma resident Stephen Hill has been in politics — and San Diego — for a long time.
Hill, recently appointed as the COVID-19 senior advisor for Mayor Todd Gloria, is a third-generation San Diegan. He is from North Park, where both of his parents grew up, and his grandmother grew up in North County.
“Being in San Diego is very important to me,” said Hill, who decided to stay in his hometown after graduating from Christian High School to study political science at San Diego State University.
He has been working for elected officials since he got out of college. In 1989, he got his start working for state Assembly member Lucy Killea, who was later elected to the state Senate. Starting as her secretary, Hill worked with Killea until 1996, ending as her district director.
His time with Killea was followed by roles with state Sen. Dede Alpert (field representative), San Diego Mayor Susan Golding (senior advisor for policy development and planning) and City Council member Toni Atkins (policy advisor/deputy chief of staff).
He has been at Gloria’s side since Gloria was elected to the City Council in 2008.
“I worked with [Gloria] starting from his first day in elected office, so I’m currently his longest-serving staff member and have had various roles with him,” Hill said.
Those roles have included senior policy advisor, deputy chief of staff and district director. When Gloria won the San Diego mayoral election in 2020, he appointed Hill as his senior advisor for COVID-19 response.
In that role, Hill’s job is to be liaison to the mayor for COVID-19 issues as they relate to the city of San Diego. Hill said that since “the city plays a supporting role to the county when it comes to public health,” he is the point person for coordinating the city’s efforts with those of the county.
Hill’s responsibilities include making sure the mayor has everything he needs to make decisions related to COVID-19, as well as ensuring city staff is informed of Gloria’s direction in the city efforts.
Hill said there are two main focuses in the COVID-19 response. The first is stopping the spread of the coronavirus that causes the disease. Since taking office, Gloria has issued various executive orders related to COVID-19, including stricter enforcement of public health orders.
“That entailed taking enforcement action against businesses or entities or individuals that were violating the public health order, either by holding large mass gatherings [or] conducting business practices that were in violation, etc.,” Hill said. “So the mayor put out an executive order that directed the San Diego police to issue citations in enforcement of the public health order — that was something that had not been done previously.”
Another measure is making sure San Diegans are vaccinated as soon as possible. Two COVID-19 vaccines — made by Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna — became available as Gloria took office as mayor in December. Hill said the city, along with the county, is engaging in a robust effort to help vaccinate San Diegans, including training 75 paramedics and emergency medical technicians to administer vaccines. The city also was recently approved by the state to be a direct recipient of the vaccines.
“That enables us to set up our own vaccination programs,” Hill said. “So we will be looking to set up our own vaccination sites and put our city staff that are trained to administer the vaccine into service.”
The second focus of the administration’s COVID-19 response, Hill said, is how the city will recover once the pandemic is under control.
“To that end, we are working with San Diego leaders in business, education, child care, tourism, art and other sectors to lay out a blueprint for how San Diego will recover and emerge stronger after the pandemic is over,” he said. “So that blueprint is being translated into policy proposals that we’ll seek to implement as we move forward.”
Hill added that he is just one of many people involved in the COVID-19 efforts. “There’s a large contingent of talented city staff that are working on COVID issues. I’m not by any means doing this alone.”
Community is important to Hill — it’s one of the things he loves most about Point Loma, along with the central location and amazing views.
Hill’s wife, Catherine, is from Loma Portal and always wanted to move back to the area. When she enrolled their children at Sunset View Elementary School in Sunset Cliffs, his family began to develop social ties and build a network in the area. Eventually they bought a house in Point Loma and have lived in the neighborhood for 10 years.
But his wife isn’t the only one with a Point Loma connection. Hill’s father, Charles, was a teacher at Point Loma High School for about 30 years, teaching advanced biology and physiology.
“I’ve found that a lot of Point Lomans are second or third generation and a lot of the parents of my children’s classmates had my dad [as a teacher], so I got a lot of mileage out of that connection,” he said.