Antonio R. Villaraigosa

  • Fall 2013

Antonio R. Villaraigosa

  • 41st Mayor of Los Angeles, California, 2005 — 2013
  • Chair, Democratic National Convention, 2012
  • President, US Conference of Mayors, 2011 — 2012
  • Los Angeles City Councilmember, District 14, 2003 - 2005
  • Member, California State Assembly, 1994 - 2000
    • Speaker, 1998 - 2000
    • Majority Leader, 1996 — 1998

Antonio Villaraigosa, positioned squarely on the national stage, is considered a leading voice and champion of the "radical middle" in American politics. Known for his exceptional skill at building broad bi-partisan coalitions, he draws support from the broad center of both Democratic and Republican voters. It is a unique individual who can serve as the chair of the 2012 Democratic National Convention and also receive standing ovations as the invited speaker at Republican events. Villaraigosa's appeal is broad, not only because of his independent thinking on national issues, but also because he is a self-made man and an energetic, electrifying communicator.

Born on January 23, 1953, in the Boyle Heights neighborhood of East Los Angeles, Villaraigosa is the oldest of four children raised by a single mother, Natalia Delgado. Villaraigosa graduated from Theodore Roosevelt High School and attended UCLA, where he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. He is a graduate of the People's College of Law.

At the age of 15, Villaraigosa began his lifelong involvement with the labor movement as a volunteer with the farm workers movement. At UCLA, Villararaigosa was active in student politics and the movement opposing U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. After graduating from the People's College of Law, he became a field representative and organizer for the United Teachers of Los Angeles (UTLA), quickly winning a reputation

in labor circles as a gifted advocate. He became President of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Federation of Government Employees and of the local chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union.

A rising star in the labor movement, Villaraigosa became a familiar face to local elected officials. In 1990, he was appointed to the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transit Authority, where he worked alongside County Supervisors, the Mayor of Los Angeles and city council members representing Los Angeles and neighboring cities. Villaraigosa's friends in labor and local government had long urged him to consider running for public office, and the introduction of term limits to the California state legislature in the 1990s created just such an opportunity. In 1994 he entered the race for an open Assembly seat representing much of Northeast Los Angeles. Despite opposition from the outgoing Assembly member and his allies in Sacramento, Villaraigosa won an upset victory in the primary and was easily elected in the general election.