Michael R. Blood, AP, May 18
LOS ANGELES — Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa trounced Mayor James Hahn to become the city’s first Hispanic mayor in more than a century as voters embraced the promise of change in a metropolis troubled by gridlock, gangs and failing schools.
Tuesday’s election confirms the rising political power of Latinos in the nation’s second-largest city.
In a victory speech before thousands of supporters in downtown Los Angeles, Villaraigosa, 52, paid tribute to his heritage while promising to bring the city’s diverse racial and ethnic groups together.
“I stand here today because people believed in me. I want you to know I believe in you as well,” he said amid chants of “Si, se puede,” Spanish for “Yes, we can.”
“Our purpose is to bring this great city together.”
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Villaraigosa had 260,721 votes, or 59 percent, to 183,749 votes, or 41 percent, for Hahn.
Hahn’s family has been active in Los Angeles politics for decades; his father, Kenneth, was a beloved county supervisor. He touted Los Angeles’ dropping crime and argued that he is the man to cure such urban ills such as failing schools and gridlock.
But the coalition of blacks and moderate-to-conservative San Fernando Valley voters that put him in office four years ago broke apart this time. He lost black support because he backed the ouster of Police Chief Bernard Parks, who is black, and he suffered fallout from allegations that his administration exchanged city contracts for campaign donations.