Season 1, Episode 8
Former Mayor of Los Angeles, State Assembly Speaker
Our featured “Buen Hombre” this week is none other than Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa, a street fighting kid who inspired by his mother’s guidance, years of determination and a clear vision of the idea of service became the 41st Mayor of Los Angeles, from 2005 to 2013. Villaraigosa ran for governor of California in 2016, making it to the final run off between Newsome and Cox in November of 2018. Villaraigosa’s life has been a testament to the relevance of civic engagement and participation and his biggest campaign and area of emphasis of efforts is getting out the vote in 2020. Join Enrique Morones this week as he reconnects with his old friend Antonio and they reflect on the road to bringing all voices of our communities together to make community life work for all of us.
Before becoming mayor, Villaraigosa was a member of the California State Assembly (1994–2000), where he served as the Democratic leader of the Assembly (1996–98), and the Speaker of the California State Assembly (1998–2000). As Speaker, Villaraigosa was an advocate for working families and helped to write legislation protecting the environment, expanding healthcare access, and increasing funding for public schools.
He ran for mayor in 2001 against Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn, but lost in the second round of voting. Villaraigosa ran for and was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2003. In 2005, he ran for mayor again 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. He was the first Mexican American in over 130 years to have served as Mayor of Los Angeles. As Mayor, Villaraigosa spearheaded policies to improve student outcomes in the Los Angeles Unified School District, reduce city and highway traffic, and enhance public safety.
Villaraigosa went on to attend East Los Angeles College, a community 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, but later renounced his association with the group citing its controversial stances on race. At this time, he went by the short form Tony of his given name Antonio. After UCLA, Villar attended the Peoples College of Law . After completing law school and subsequently failing the bar exam four times, he became a field representative/organizer with the United Teachers Los Angeles where he organized teachers and was regarded as a gifted advocate. He later served as president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Federation of Government Employees. He changed his surname to Villaraigosa upon his marriage with Corina Raigosa in 1987.
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