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Geographer Serge Dedina is the newly-elected mayor of Imperial Beach, Calif., after winning a tight race within 50 votes against incumbent, two-year term mayor Jim Janney. Dedina, who has a Ph.D. in geography from UT-Austin, ran on a platform of improving neighborhoods, inclusiveness and environment. He grew up in Imperial Beach (on the border with Tijuana), is the first fluently Spanish-speaking mayor in the community and is a keen surfer. He is the author of Wild Sea: Eco-Wars and Surf Stories from the Coast of the California and Saving the Gray Whale, among other writings. He’s also the founder and executive director of WiLDCOAST, a nonprofit environmental group headquartered in Imperial Beach. In 2013, Dedina was named a John Muir Fellow by Muir College at UC-San Diego in recognition of his significant conservation achievements.

Diana Liverman, professor of geography at U. of Arizona and AAG member, who contributed this news, taught Dedina and his wife Emily Young at U. of Wisconsin-Madision.