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Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa (born Antonio Ramon Villar on January 23, 1953) is former mayor of the city of Los Angeles (California). He was the first Hispanic mayor of Los Angeles since 1872. Villaraigosa was elected mayor of Los Angeles after the May 17, 2005 elections, in which he defeated the ruling mayor James Hahn. In public service, Villaraigosa has served as a member of the California State Assembly for the 45th District, as well as Spokesperson for that Assembly and as a member of the Los Angeles Council for the 14th District. Before being elected to public office, Villaraigosa has had a long career in workers’ organizations.
Born as Antonio Villar in the neighborhood of Boyle Heights, east of downtown Los Angeles, of Mexican descent, Villaraigosa had an unstable childhood. Although he failed to finish high school he has received the honorific degree from Theodore Roosevelt High School. He walked with “gangs”, but changed his way of life and attended East Los Angeles College, and finally UCLA. While he was active in MEChA, a civil rights organization formed predominantly by students. He graduated in history and attended the People’s College of Law.
Since he was fifteen years old, he volunteered for the agricultural workers movement. He became an organizer / representative at the United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA), where he made contacts with people who would help him make his move in politics, such as James M. Wood and Miguel Contreras, executive treasurers (both deceased) of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. Villaraigosa was also president of the Los Angeles chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Federation of Government Employees.
Antonio Villaraigosa in a conference at an event before the ACLU.
In 1994 Villaraigosa was elected for four years to the California State Assembly.
In the mayoral elections that took place on March 8, 2005, where he reached the first place and then in the tiebreaker elections on May 17, 2005, in which he won widely by 58.7% against 41.3% of Hahn . He is the first mayor of Hispanic-American origin since the mayor Cristóbal Aguilar in 1872 governed Los Angeles, when he barely had a population of 6,000 inhabitants.
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