Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has become a representative voice to the Latino population, while working to improve the city's education and transportation systems. The NewsHour reports on his leadership, challenges and critics.
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JEFFREY KAYE, Reporter, KCET:
In a city more used to movie stars than elected officials basking in the spotlight, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is an anomaly: a celebrity-politician.
Charismatic, telegenic, and widely viewed as having ambitions for higher office, the 54-year-old mayor keeps attention focused on himself and his agenda by appearing at a merry-go-round of press conferences, public ceremonies, and groundbreakings. The swirl of activity makes it seem like Villaraigosa is on a perpetual political campaign.
In an interview, the mayor discussed his leadership style.
ANTONIO VILLARAIGOSA, Mayor, Los Angeles:
I've said from the beginning that I've been blessed with this opportunity to be the mayor of the city I was born and raised in. And the best way to demonstrate that you feel gratitude is to work your tail off, to work hard every day, from your first day to your last. And that's what I'm doing.
Elected in 2005 as the first Mexican-American mayor of L.A. in over 130 years, Villaraigosa has earned a national reputation as a symbol of growing Latino political clout in the U.S. That's why it was good news for Senator Hillary Clinton when the mayor decided to endorse her for president last month.
She's the one candidate who's been there, and she has my vote for president of the United States of America.
Senator Clinton named Villaraigosa one of four national chairpersons of her presidential campaign.
SEN. HILLARY CLINTON (D), New York: I am both honored and delighted to have the mayor's endorsement. I find that he is an honest optimist and a practical visionary.