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Los Angeles Elects Villaraigosa as Mayor


America's second largest and one of its most culturally diverse cities, Los Angeles held a historic election for mayor on Tuesday. Initial results show that Antonio Villaraigosa has captured nearly 59 percent of the votes and will become the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since the 19th century. Four years ago, Mr. Villaraigosa narrowly lost to fellow Democrat and current mayor James Hahn.

Antonio Villaraigosa (l) and current Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn recently led the 'March of Gratitude' organized by the Museum of Tolerance
Antonio Villaraigosa is a high school dropout. In his youth he was charged with assault after a brawl in a restaurant. But, the former speaker of California's State Assembly is now so polished he's been nicknamed "Vanilla-raigosa."

"I was born and raised in this city. My mother was born here, my grandpa got here a hundred years ago. I'm as Angeleno as any candidate running for mayor could be," the mayoral candidate recently said

The 52-year-old city councilman will become the first Mexican-American mayor of Los Angeles in 133 years, but says he takes a broad view. "Yes, for some people it is important, but what I've said is that I'm going to be a mayor for all of us."

Analyst Gregory Rodriquez is with The New America Foundation. "The most interesting aspect of this election is how small a role ethnicity has played. These processes tend to be slow, gradual and by the time it happens, by the time we do have a Mexican-American mayor of the city, it's not such a big deal."

L.A. is nearly half-Hispanic, but is also one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the country.

One-term Mayor James Hahn was hurt by unresolved investigations into official corruption. The campaign was nasty on both sides.

Mr. Villaraigosa could gain national political recognition as a Mexican-American candidate for future office. But first, like any other mayor, he'll have to prove he can fix the streets and move the traffic.

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