Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is among the nation’s most progressive and forward-thinking political leaders.
Beginning with his 1994 election to the California State Assembly and shortly afterward as Speaker of the Assembly, Villaraigosa helped bring together environmental and business groups in support of a $2 billion park bond, at the time the largest in state history.
Villaraigosa was the author of the Healthy Families program for more than 750,000 uninsured children statewide. He also helped pass a $9 billion school bond.
On the Los Angeles City Council, Villaraigosa was at the forefront of fostering better relations between the community and law enforcement. Elected mayor in 2005, Villaraigosa helped turn Los Angeles into one of America’s safest cities, achieved far-reaching educational goals (including the creation of Jordan High School for the Arts in Watts), spurred economic development by eliminating government red tape, and was among the nation’s leading advocates for environmental sustainability and green growth.
As mayor, Villaraigosa doubled the number of high-performing schools with graduation rates in the Los Angeles Unified School District rising from 44 percent to 72 percent by the end of his second term. Villaraigosa expanded the transportation system by advocating for Measure R in securing $40 billion for transportation projects, including new rail and bus lines. During that period, Los Angeles became the first big city to set a goal to become independent of coal by 2025. The city’s greenhouse gas emissions have since been reduced by nearly 30 percent.
“I believe we need to bring this state together around a shared vision,” Villaraigosa said. “California is the epicenter of innovation, and real innovation is making sure people who work hard have the chance to make it to—and stay in—the middle class.”