Friday, May 24, 2024

Los Angeles Mayor Villaraigosa Succeeds in Bid for Second Term

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, one of the nation’s leading Hispanic politicians, easily claimed a re-election victory on Tuesday.

Villaraigosa’s bid for a second term was more low-key than his last run for mayor four years ago, in which he was the first Latino mayor elected of Los Angeles since 1872. The Democrat has been a strong advocate for America’s second-largest city, where about half the residents are Latino.

The one time Labor activist faced nine challengers in Tuesday’s nonpartisan municipal election.

Early returns showed him with 57 percent of the vote, dramatically ahead of the 22 percent belonging to his nearest rival and comfortably beyond the 50-percent-plus-one majority needed to avoid a runoff race in May with the next-highest vote getter.

Villaraigosa, who lobbied on behalf of Los Angeles and other cities for a share of the economic stimulus package recently passed by Congress, said in his victory speech that help was on the way for constituents, many Latinos who have been affected by the ongoing economic crisis.

“We’re going to rebuild from this economic crisis and we will emerge stronger than ever.” said Villaraigosa.

Questions also have been looming if Villaraigosa might run for governor next year to succeed Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger, who must step down due to term limits. A bid for the U.S. Senate also is seen as a possible next career move.

Fernando Guerra, a political science professor at Loyola Marymount University, said the higher political aspirations of the mayor should be seen as an advantage for Los Angeles, especially in the city’s relations with state lawmakers residing in Sacramento.

“As long as legislators believe that Antonio Villaraigosa might go back up as governor, they have to listen to him, they have to give him access,” said Guerra.

He also added, “It is a very important lobbying and advocacy position for people to think that the mayor of Los Angeles may be a candidate for governor.”

Los Angeles Times