|41st Mayor of Los Angeles|
July 1, 2005 – July 1, 2013
|Preceded by||James Hahn|
|Succeeded by||Eric Garcetti|
|Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 14th district
July 1, 2003 – July 1, 2005
|Preceded by||Nick Pacheco|
|Succeeded by||José Huizar|
|63rd Speaker of the California Assembly|
February 26, 1998 – April 13, 2000
|Preceded by||Cruz Bustamante|
|Succeeded by||Robert Hertzberg|
|Majority Leader of the California Assembly|
November 30, 1996 – February 26, 1998
|Preceded by||Richard Katz|
|Succeeded by||Kevin Shelley|
|Member of the California Assembly
from the 45th district
|Preceded by||Richard Polanco|
|Succeeded by||Jackie Goldberg|
|Born||Antonio Ramón Villar, Jr.
January 23, 1953
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Corina Raigosa (1987–2007)|
|Alma mater||University of California, Los Angeles
People's College of Law
Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa (//; born Antonio Ramón Villar, Jr.; January 23, 1953) is an American politician who served as the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles, California from 2005 to 2013. Prior to being elected Mayor he was a member of the California State Assembly from 1994 to 2000, the Democratic leader of the Assembly from 1996 to 1998, and the Speaker of the California State Assembly from 1998 to 2000. After leaving the State Assembly due to term limits he was elected to the Los Angeles City Council from 2003 until he was elected Mayor in 2005.
Villaraigosa is a member of the Democratic Party, national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, a member of President Barack Obama's Transition Economic Advisory Board, and Chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September 2012.
He ran for Mayor in 2001 against Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn, but lost in the second round of voting. He ran again in 2005 in a rematch against Hahn and won. During his tenure as Mayor, he gained national attention for his work and was featured in Time's story on the country's 25 most influential Latinos. However, in June 2009, Villaraigosa made the cover of Los Angeles Magazine, titled "Failure," with an accompanying article written by Ed Leibowitz, which claimed that Villaraigosa often confused campaigning with governance, wasted 22 weeks in his first term trying to take over the school board, and did little to help education in the City of Los Angeles. He was the third Mexican American to have served as Mayor of Los Angeles, and the first in over 130 years. He was term limited and could not run for re-election in 2013. Villaraigosa is open to running for Governor of California sometime in the future.
- 1 Early life and education
- 2 Early political career
- 3 Mayor of Los Angeles
- 4 International publicity
- 5 Controversies
- 6 Public opinion
- 7 Personal life
- 8 See also
- 9 References
- 10 Footnotes
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Early life and education
Born Antonio Ramón Villar, Jr. in the City Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles County's Eastside, Villaraigosa attended both Catholic and public schools. His father immigrated to the USA and became a successful businessman, but lost his wealth during the Great Depression. His young wife left him at this time. His father abandoned their family when Villaraigosa was 5 years old, and at age of 16, a benign tumor in his spinal column briefly paralyzed him from the waist down, curtailing his ability to play sports. His grades plummeted at Cathedral High School, and the next year, he was expelled from the Roman Catholic institution after getting into a fight after a football game. He later graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School after taking adult education classes there at night, and with the help of his English teacher, Herman Katz.
Villaraigosa went on to attend East Los Angeles College, and eventually transferred to University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History in 1977. At UCLA, he was a leader of MEChA, an organization that seeks to promote Chicano unity and empowerment through political action. At this time, he went by the name "Tony Villar" but began using his birth name, Antonio, to win support in the Hispanic community. After UCLA, Villaraigosa attended the Peoples College of Law (PCL). His desire to practice law has been prevented due to his repeated inability to pass the California Bar Exam, which he has failed four times. After PCL, he became a field representative/organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles. He later served as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Federation of Government Employees.
Early political career
In 1990, Villaraigosa was appointed to the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Board and served there until 1994. In 1994, he was elected to the California State Assembly. Within his first term, he was selected to serve as Democratic Assembly Whip and Assembly Majority Leader. In 1998, Villaraigosa was chosen by his colleagues to be the Speaker of the Assembly, the first from Los Angeles in 25 years. He left the Assembly in 2000 because of term limits 
Mayor of Los Angeles
Villaraigosa ran for election as Mayor of Los Angeles in the 2001 citywide contest but was defeated by Democrat James Hahn in a run-off election. In 2003, Villaraigosa defeated incumbent Councilman Nick Pacheco to win a seat on the Los Angeles City Council representing the 14th District.
Villaraigosa placed first in the primary for the Los Angeles mayoral election of March 8, 2005, and won the run-off election on May 17, receiving 58.7% of the vote. On July 1, 2005, Villaraigosa was sworn in as the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles. He is the first Latino Mayor of Los Angeles since 1872, when Mayor Cristóbal Aguilar (Mayor from 1866 to 1868 and again from 1870 until 1872) served as Mayor. Attendees to his first inauguration included then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger; former Governors Gray Davis, Pete Wilson, and Jerry Brown; former Vice President Al Gore, U.S. Secretary of State Warren Christopher, and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.
Villaraigosa was re-elected in 2009, receiving 55.65% of the vote, a relatively small majority, despite running against a field of nine relative unknowns and spending 15 times as much money as his most prominent challenger, attorney Walter Moore who won 26.23% after previously only winning 2.5% of the vote in the 2005 election. Villaraigosa drew controversy by refusing to debate any of his opponents before the election, namely Walter Moore.
One of Villaraigosa's main transportation-related goals is to extend the Purple Line subway down Wilshire Boulevard to Santa Monica. Proponents have dubbed the project the "Subway to the Sea." Villaraigosa worked to persuade Congressman Henry Waxman to repeal the ban on subway tunneling in Los Angeles, which occurred in 2006.
On November 4, 2008, Los Angeles County voters passed Measure R, an additional half-cent per dollar sales tax that increased the sales tax rate in Los Angeles County from 8.25% to 8.75% and is projected to generate up to $40 billion over thirty years for transportation. Measure R included funding for the portion of the "Subway to the Sea" between Wilshire/Western and Westwood/VA Hospital; a project known as the Westside Subway Extension. Its passage was credited in large part to Villaraigosa, who lobbied the Metropolitan Transportation Agency and County Board of Supervisors to place it on the November ballot, and helped organize the fundraising efforts.
Working with Wendy Greuel, then Chair of the City Council's Transportation Committee, Villaraigosa issued an executive directive aimed at banning road construction during rush hour in traffic-plagued Los Angeles, and established anti-gridlock zones and launched Tiger Teams to improve traffic flow during peak rush hour times. Villaraigosa even publicly pledged to take the subway to work one day a month, as reported by The Los Angeles Times. This, however, proved impossible for him.
In February 2010, Villaraigosa traveled to Washington, D.C. in order to promote a "Ten/Thirty" plan that requests an $8.8 billion bridge loan to augment the $5.8 billion expected from Measure R tax revenues. Proceeds would accelerate the construction of 12 mass transit projects. The loan would be repaid with continuing income from Measure R funds. Villaraigosa's 30/10 plan eventually morphed into the America Fast Forward program and was passed by the United States Congress.
On Saturday July 18, 2010, Villaraigosa fell from his bicycle after being cut off by a taxi driver; Villaraigosa suffered a broken elbow in the fall, and the taxi driver fled the scene. The accident converted Villariagosa into "a new champion of cyclists' rights", when he declared a bicycle safety summit, and announced that he would push for the passage of a "3 foot passing rule" in California. The two-hour long summit meeting, held Tuesday, August 16, 2010, was criticized for not including input from Los Angeles' Bicycle Advisory Committee, which has held a number of Bicycle Summit meetings. Villaraigosa has also supported implementation of Los Angeles' Bicycle Master Plan, adopted in March 2011, which sets a long-term goal of creating a network of 1,680 miles of interconnected bikeways spanning the city. Subsequent to the adoption of the plan, Villaraigosa issued an executive directive that "mandates the construction of 40 miles of bikeways each year" and "requires city agencies to include bicycle-friendly features in their programs and expand public education and training campaigns."
Villaraigosa is a member of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, a national organization of Mayors whose goal is to increase gun control. As Mayor of Los Angeles, Villaraigosa has pursued an agenda of making Los Angeles the safest big city in America.
Villaraigosa has proposed a Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness initiative, which adds certain units to the Los Angeles Police and Fire Departments and reorganizes some of the current practices. Villaraigosa's latest development in the policy realm of homeland security is the creation of his Homeland Security Advisors, a group of approximately 40 leaders. The panel includes Police Chief William Bratton, former L.A. FBI chief Ron Iden, former Mayor Richard Riordan, Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca and former District Attorney Ira Reiner. It will be co-chaired by his Deputy Mayor for Homeland Security and Public Safety Arif Alikhan. The panel planned for such issues as counter-terrorism measures, evacuation planning and emergency preparedness.
Villaraigosa vowed to hire 1,000 new police officers, a promise which has not yet been kept. On March 6, 2009, Mayor Villaraigosa and Police Chief Bratton announced that the L.A.P.D. had expanded to its largest force in city history. On May 14, 2009, City Council approved an LAPD/LAFD hiring freeze. In a television advertisement paid for by the Villaraigosa campaign, Chief Bratton stated that "Crime is down to levels of the 1950s." Twenty-four hours before the March 3 Election Day, Villaraigosa and Bratton reannounced a statement from the Mayor’s Office that the “citywide crime-rate drop to the lowest level since 1956, the total number of homicides fall[ing] to a 38-year low. Gang homicides were down more than 24 percent in 2008.” However, former Chief of Police Daryl Gates declared this statistic meaningless, citing the trend toward lengthier prison sentences for career criminals as the true reason for the change. In fact, crime has fallen by 43 percent across California between 1994 and 1999. In an article by Patrick Range McDonald, these statistics were further disputed. The figures are also disputed by Professor Andrew Karmen, John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Karmen stated that, adjusting for population, the Los Angeles murder rate would need to be 180 or less to be equivalent to the crime rate of 1956, with its rate of 104 homicides per 2.2 million people, or one killing for every 22,115 people (the 2007 rate was 396 per 4 million people, or one killing per 10,101 people). McDonald further noted that, "In 1956, 89 percent of homicides were cleared. Today, if you kill another human being in Los Angeles, chances are very good you will get away with it: 43 out of every 100 killers are not caught." Similarly, he notes, "In 1956, 42 percent of robberies were cleared by an arrest. Today, that number is 26 percent."
In his first State of the City address, he announced his intention to assume full control of the LAUSD, through a bill passed by the State Legislature. The school board and teachers' union immediately protested and support in the community was mediocre. Consequently, Villaraigosa reached a compromise with leaders of the teachers' unions and state legislators that would create a Council of Mayors of the 28 cities served by LAUSD. The votes of each Mayor would be proportionate to the city's population, thus giving Villaraigosa over 80% of the vote, and most often, the final say of what happens, while requiring him to seek consensus from a few other cities.
AB 1381 was passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. The plan received significant opposition among the Los Angeles Board of Education, Board President Marlene Canter, then-superintendent of LAUSD, Roy Romer, among others. On December 21, 2006, AB 1381 was ruled unconstitutional. Villaraigosa made a preliminary appeal that he later dropped.
Villariagosa operates the Partnership for Los Angeles Schools, which controls 10 LAUSD campuses. In June 2009, teachers at 8 of the ten campuses gave the partnership landslide "no confidence" votes. Steve Lopez, a columnist at the Los Angeles Times, stated that at the two other schools, a significant number of the teachers disapproved of the partnership's operations.
In January 2005, Villaraigosa appeared before a coalition of animal rights activists and pledged that, if elected, he would implement a no-kill policy for Animal Services and fire General Manager Guerdon Stuckey, an appointee of former Mayor Hahn. Animal activists had expressed doubts regarding Stuckey's ability to lead the Department of Animal Service since his appointment, primarily citing his lack of experience. During Stuckey's tenure, activist concern intensified due to a refusal to accept charity-sponsored spay and neuter services, firings of several key animal rights-oriented workers, and excessive euthanasia of animals held by Animal Services. Approximately one year after Villaraigosa's initial promise to fire Stuckey and substantial negative press, Villaraigosa fired Stuckey. Stuckey appealed the firing to the City Council and threatened a lawsuit, and in February 2006, the Los Angeles City Council awarded Stuckey a $50,000 consulting fee with the agreement that there would be no lawsuit. In January 2006, Villaraigosa appointed Ed Boks to the General Manager position. In April 2009, General Manager Ed Boks resigned after complaints from some staff, city councillors, and animal advocates. In June 2010, fifteen months after Boks’ resignation, Brenda Barnette, former CEO of the Seattle Humane Society was appointed.
Villaraigosa has tripled the city's trash collection fee from $11 per month to $36.32 per month for single-family homes, stating: "Every new dollar residents pay for trash pickup will be used to put more officers on the streets," in a press release dated April 12, 2006. A 2008 L.A. City Contoller audit by Laura Chick determined that 2008 "only $47 million, or about one-third of the new trash-fee revenue then pouring into city coffers, went to hiring police, and only 366 officers were hired instead of the promised 1,000."
Villariagosa then lobbied to place Proposition S on the ballot to fund new police officers, concerned that a pending court ruling could eliminate the 40-year-old 10% telephone tax. This generated some controversy among tax activists, as Villariagosa and his negotiating team had recently reached a salary agreement resulting in a 23% pay hike. Controller Laura Chick noted that Proposition S language does not restrict expenditure to police and firefighters, and instead deposits the money into the general fund. It is not certain that any of the Prop S monies were used to hire new police officers. Villaraigosa supports Proposition O, which currently adds $10.22 to the property tax bill of a $350,000 home and will eventually climb to $35.00. Villariagosa also campaigned last fall for two education bond measures that will increase the size of property tax bills over the next decade.
On March 23, 2010, Villaraigosa, in a leaked memo warned the Los Angeles City Council that their potential failure to support a series of four proposed rate increases totaling 37% and already approved by the city's Department of Water and Power would be "the most immediate and direct route to bankruptcy the city could pursue".
Energy and the environment
In April 2008, Villaraigosa set aside a large parcel of industrial land around the Los Angeles River to create a “clean-technology corridor.” Discussions have started with international companies about relocating to the corridor and a range of incentives are available for businesses opting to move to the city. The site will include a research facility that will draw on the engineering talents of local higher-education institutions, such as the California Institute of Technology and UCLA. About 20 acres (81,000 m2) has also been set aside for a manufacturing center. As of August 2010, the project is still in the planning stage.
On August 10, 2007, The Los Angeles Times published an expose on water use by Villaraigosa at his private residences. During the Summer of 2007, Villaraigosa challenged Los Angeles residents to slash their water use by 10% in the face of a historic drought. "Los Angeles needs to change course and conserve water to steer clear of this perfect storm," Villaraigosa said then. But DWP records obtained by the Los Angeles Times show that "Villaraigosa has been contributing to that storm," according to the Times. He and his family used 386,716 gallons of water at their Mount Washington home, far higher than the average of 209,000 gallons. Villaraigosa blamed his high water use on "gophers that chewed holes through a rubberized drip-irrigation system."
Honorary degrees and awards
In February 2006, Villaraigosa was presented with the Tom Bradley Legacy Foundation Achievement Award for "following in the footsteps of the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles who served the city for 51 years." Citing the similarity of the two mayors in building coalitions among diverse communities, the speakers praised Villaraigosa for his vision for the City of Los Angeles. Also in attendance were Mrs. Ethel Bradley, daughter Lorraine and many of Mayor Bradley's former staff members.
On May 6, 2006, Villaraigosa was awarded an honorary degree by Loyola Marymount University, and was the Class of 2006 Commencement Speaker. On May 12, 2006, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Southern California and was the Class of 2006 commencement speaker.
In October 2006, Villaraigosa traveled to England and Asia for a sixteen-day trade mission. In England, he visited London and Manchester, at the invitation of then-Prime Minister Tony Blair, and spoke about Los Angeles' efforts regarding global warming, homeland security and emergency preparedness, and its bid for the 2016 Olympic Games. Prime Minister Blair had visited Mayor Villaraigosa a couple months prior to that in Los Angeles.
In 2006, Villaraigosa led a delegation of over 50 business leaders to China, South Korea, and Japan that secured $300 million in direct foreign investment. In Beijing, Villariagosa opened a LA Inc. tourism office, in order to ensure a permanent welcome for the millions of Chinese tourists who will visit Los Angeles over the next decade. In Japan, Villaraigosa launched a See My LA advertising campaign in Tokyo-based Family Mart convenience stores throughout Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand.
In February 2008, Villariagosa welcomed Mexican President Felipe Calderón Hinojosa and members of the Mexican delegation to discuss trade opportunities and witness the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Mexico Business Council for Foreign Trade, Investment and Technology (COMCE) and the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce.
Villaraigosa traveled to Israel in June 2008 to meet with experts in homeland security, counter-terrorism, and green technology. He also signed an agreement with the International Institute for Counter-Terrorism (ICT - part the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya) on behalf of the LA police department. Under the agreement, the ICT will train US homeland security officials. In recent years, he developed a relationship with the Mayor of the Israeli city of Sderot, Eli Moyal, and met with him during the visit. Villaraigosa has long retained strong ties to the Los Angeles Jewish Community, having spent part of his childhood in the once-Jewish dominated neighborhood of Boyle Heights.
On May 2, 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Villaraigosa was under investigation for ethics violations. "The executive director of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission...accused Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of 31 violations of campaign finance and disclosure laws stemming from his 2003 campaign for the City Council."
In June 2010, a formal ethics investigation of Villariagosa was launched, due to his unreported acceptance of 81 tickets to concerts, awards ceremonies and sporting events. Estimates - including the 13 Lakers courtside tickets valued at $3,100 each and Academy Awards and Governor’s Ball tickets at $21,000 each—suggest that the value of the tickets could amount to tens of thousands of dollars. The unreported tickets came to light after the City of Los Angeles paid $3.2 million for Michael Jackson's Memorial, including $2 million in police overtime.
In 2009 the Los Angeles Times published an investigative report questioning the assignment of high-paying government jobs to those with close family or other personal connections to those in political power, pointing out that California taxpayers pay Marisela Villar, daughter of Villaraigosa, $68,000 for work as a "field representative" answering constituent calls and arranging community meetings. Ms. Villar reportedly has no degrees or other particular qualifications for the position, to which she was appointed by close political allies of her father. "It looks like nepotism," said Tracy Westen, chief executive of the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. "It's the kind of thing the public doesn't like: people using their power and influence to provide cushy jobs to friends and family.".
Controversy arose in response to the sudden withdrawal of Ricardo Lara and Arturo Chavez from the 2008, 46th District election, which is alleged to have occurred after the two attended a secret meeting at the Getty House with Villaraigosa and his cousin, John Pérez, who had recently announced his candidacy for the seat. The departure of these two serious challengers cleared the field for John Pérez to win the seat. Within months, Villaraigosa appointed Lara to the Los Angeles City Planning Commission. Lara later gained criticism for concurrently serving on the Planning Commission board (restricted to residents of Los Angeles) and running for state Assembly in the 50th District (restricted to residents of the 50th District). No part of the City of Los Angeles is included in the 50th District. Following the Los Angeles Times article, "Legislative aide Ricardo Lara accused of straddling communities," Lara resigned from the Planning Commission.
After his election as Mayor, Villaraigosa was featured on the cover of Newsweek, and in Time 's story on the country's 25 most influential Latinos, but repeated questions concerning his marital infidelity issues appear to have damaged his reputation locally and nationally.
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa topped a list of all-time worst Angelenos chosen by online voters who responded to the Talk Back to Lopez poll at the Los Angeles Times.
Villaraigosa has also received criticism because of his membership in MEChA while attending UCLA and his alleged support for immigration reform. He has also been criticized because of the high frequency in which he holds press conferences, attends photo-ops, and travels out of town (including campaigning for Hillary Clinton). An LA Weekly article by Patrick Range McDonald published on September 11, 2008, presented an analysis of a 10-week period from May 21 to August 1, and determined that "On direct city business—such as signing legislation and meeting with city-department heads—his schedule shows the mayor spent 11 percent of his time...Yet the 11 percent of Villaraigosa's time that the Weekly has identified as being spent in L.A. on actual city work—running, fixing or shaping government policies and actions—reveals that he frequently spends that limited time huddling with special-interest groups who have helped him attain higher office."
A November 4, 2008 election day poll conducted by the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University found that Villaraigosa had a job approval rating of 61%. In 2009, a poll by the Los Angeles times showed his approval rating had slipped to 55%, "relatively low for a sitting Mayor who faced little name opposition in his recent re-election victory." At the same time, his showing and that of the candidates he supported in the election were lackluster.
Villaraigosa was featured in the editorial cover story of the June, 2009 Los Angeles Magazine, which took him to task for a lack of effectiveness regarding many of his stated policy priorities, and a focus on election to higher office, to the detriment of the needs of the City. In response, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles devoted its June 11 cover story to a defense of Villaraigosa's record.
In February 2010, La Opinion staffer Isaiah Alvarado noted that Villaraigosa's call for job and cuts in city departments did not include his own staff of 205 employees, compared to 121 staffers for Hahn and 114 for Riordan. Alvarado also noted that even after a 10% reduction, the Mayor's office spent $1.8 million more than Hahn in the last year of his administration and $1.4 million more than Riordan. This budget does not include the annual $118,000 covering of the Getty House, the official residence of the Mayor of Los Angeles.
At the age of 21, Villaraigosa fathered the first of his four children, Marisela Villar, and second at age 25, Prisila Villar-Contreras. At age 34, as Antonio Villar, he married Corina Raigosa November 28, 1987, and adopted a combination of their last names as his family name. The couple had two children, Natalia and Antonio Jr.
In the wake of his affair with Spanish-language television reporter, Mirthala Salinas, Villaraigosa announced that he was separating from his wife, and on June 12, 2007, Corina Villaraigosa filed for dissolution of marriage in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. Villaraigosa acknowledged on July 3, 2007, that he was in a relationship with Salinas. As a result of the affair, Salinas was suspended by her employer, Telemundo, and forcibly relocated to Riverside, after which she resigned. In a New Yorker profile published shortly before the divorce, Villaraigosa acknowledged that he and Corina had had difficulties over the course of their marriage. “In a twenty-year marriage, there are many ups and downs", Villaraigosa said. The New Yorker also reported that in 1994, while Corina was undergoing treatment for thyroid cancer, Villaraigosa was involved with a friend's wife and Corina had filed for dissolution of marriage at that time. The New Yorker reported that Villaraigosa's actions had infuriated colleagues who had helped portray him as a family man and lost him key supporters.
Villaraigosa had a relationship with Lu Parker, a local television news anchor and 1994 Miss USA, from March 2009. In July 2012, Parker's publicist told the Los Angeles Times that the couple's relationship had ended on May 25, 2012.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Antonio Villaraigosa.|
|Member of the California Assembly
from the 45th district
|Majority Leader of the California Assembly
|Speaker of the California Assembly
|Mayor of Los Angeles
|Member of the Los Angeles City Council
from the 14th district
|Party political offices|
|Permanent Chairperson of the Democratic National Convention