Marcus Bush

San Diego State
B.A. City Planning and Public Administration, B.A. Spanish '10
National City Councilmember, Project Manager at MAAC Project

Advice for graduates: “Networking and building relationships is key—and diversity in relationships, not just in terms of ethnicity, but in terms of professional background, age and walks of life. Also, focus on a career that makes you happy but helps to make the world a better place."

​​​Marcus Bush—who is the first Afro-Latino, openly LGBTQIA+ individual and millennial elected to National City's city council—can point to the video game SimCity and President (then-Illinois State Senator) Barack Obama's 2004 Democratic National Convention speech as two of the main drivers behind where he is today. While the game inspired him to study city planning at San Diego State—which he did with the help of the Compact of Success program for Sweetwater School District students—Obama's speech sparked his interest in politics.

While in college, Bush volunteered for Obama's 2008 presidential campaign and met Mona Rios, who was running for councilmember at the time. “Now she's my colleague, but she's my greatest, biggest mentor," he says. “When she got elected to city council, she encouraged me to get involved with the community, on the local boards and commissions, and volunteer."

In the years following graduation, Bush followed that advice, serving as chair of the National City Planning Commission, a member of the Board of Directors for National City Chamber of Commerce and president of the Rotary Club. He also worked as a union representative, completed various internships, including one at the San Diego Association of Governments, and served as diversity director on the Board of the San Diego American Planning Association.

“I definitely meandered a lot after I graduated in 2010," he says. “It took two years to finally start my career, and in the meantime, I made the best use of my time by volunteering and networking. Then I decided that planning is good, but I didn't want to just plan anymore. I didn't want to just talk about what we're going to do; I wanted to actually get things built. I especially wanted to address the housing crisis."

This drove Bush to earn his master's degree in real estate development at Portland State University, graduating in 2018. Back home, he worked as a policy advisor for Council President Georgette Gomez in the City of San Diego before starting his current role as a project manager at the MAAC Project, a nonprofit focuse​d on affordable housing and other resources for disadvantaged families.

In the months before the pandemic, Bush launched his successful campaign for city council with the support of Rios and the city's first Latina mayor, Alejandra Sotelo-Solis. He was elected in November 2020 and sworn into office in December.​