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Villaraigosa: the Most Reluctant Endorsement Ever

March 1, 2009

[image: Tony V.]

In 2005, Antonio Villaraigosa was in much the same position as Barack Obama three years later. Well, almost. Tony V. had suffered a loss to James Hahn in the previous election and was able to reinvent himself as the candidate of hope and change, in as many words. Why he didn’t adopt this platform the first time around is anyone’s guess, but it worked as soon as he picked it up. For at least some of the past four years, Tony’s played the role of Mr. Charisma, lighting up even the dullest bureaucratic meetings with his radiance. While assuming such a role carries the risk of coming off as all style and no substance, Tony’s done a fair amount of actual mayoring during his tenure as well, cracking down on gangs, revamping the police department, and pushing for more subways. In a way, Tony’s mayoral arc may act as something of a crystal ball for Obama’s culture-heavy presidency, but in this Tuesday’s election Tony will have an advantage not likely to happen for Obama circa 2012: he’s running virtually unopposed.

The only other serious contender for the mayor’s seat would have been Rick Caruso. You know Rick, the developer of such wondrous projects as The Grove and Glendale’s Americana. Rick bowed out of any mayoral considerations several months ago, to the tremendous relief of the LA Loyalist staff. Hopefully, Rick will further bless Los Angeles by disappearing before he barfs up another megaproject on our civic landscape again.

Being a strong subway advocate, I’m happy to see that Villaraigosa has pushed hard for expanding the Purple Line. But many of his other actions, from his questionable solar panel initiative to extramarital affairs to his non sequitor million tree proposal, breed cynicism. I think Tony is probably the best man for the job, especially since his strongest competitor is a guy named Zuma Dogg, but that doesn’t mean I’m excited to send him back to city hall. Villaraigosa’s next four years will probably have their fair share of scnadals and fumbles. And of course they will be darkened by the prospect of Villaraigosa leaving in 2010 to run for governor, though LA mayors have historically had a difficult time getting to Sacramento due to NorCal snobbery at the polls. However, there will be progress over the next four years as well. Angelenos will need to roll with the punches, which fortunately is something we’re good at.

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