Angelenos know Antonio. His two terms as mayor of Los Angeles began in 2005 with, in addition to great promise, his sparkling smile and optimistic pronouncements on the front pages of newspapers and on TV news broadcasts. By 2013, when he was succeeded as mayor by Eric Garcetti, Antonio Villaraigosa had amassed some impressive accomplishments despite a the disappointment felt in many quarters and fatigue over his personal peccadilloes.
So it’s no surprise that the Los Angeles Times received several pointed rebuttals to the editorial board’s endorsement of Villaraigosa for governor, a candidate with whom voters in Southern California were well acquainted before he was L.A.’s mayor (as a member of the state Assembly for six years, he served as that body’s speaker for two years prior to being elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2003).
Several other readers, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the two Democrats, Villaraigosa and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, most likely to make it past the June primary and onto the November ballot. To them, The Times Editorial Board confronted a dilemma that faces all voters: which candidate to support among less-than-ideal choices.
David Tokofsky, a former Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education member, does not remember Villaraigosa fondly:
Your endorsement cited Villaraigosa’s “political courage” and used his push for mayoral control of the LAUSD as one of the examples. A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge had another word for it: unconstitutional.
A profile in courage is when you follow the rule of law, not abuse it to fulfill your ambition. A profile in courage is when you build coalitions and alliances based on core values, not on billionaires and educational oligarchs who buy and dictate your core values.
Tarzana resident Wendy Prober-Cohen doesn’t like Villaraigosa or Newsom:
I am so frustrated always seeing the slick candidates Newsom and Villaraigosa. The media love these two telegenic former mayors, love pitting the north against the south, and rarely cover the other candidates like John Chiang and Delaine Eastin, who just aren’t so visually “fit for the front page.”
It’s just so much easier to make this a popularity contest and cover the candidates with name recognition (because they were mayors of the two most notable cities in California), rather than focus on the candidates with real ideas.
Gregory Dobie of Sherman Oaks recalls a time of silence from Villaraigosa:
In June 2012, I found myself in front of my apartment building with about 20 boxes of school files. I had just been laid off from my job as an adult English language and citizenship teacher by the LAUSD.
In the months before, I had participated in meetings, protests and letter-writing campaigns. While support for students, teachers and staff came from numerous elected officials, a noticeable silence came from Villaraigosa.
Robert Michael LaCarr of Mount Washington calls out the former mayor’s associations:
Signing with Herbalife and taking money from the even more reprehensible payday lenders render Villaraigosa irreconcilably sullied for anyone who knows the truth about the depredations of these organizations.
Shame on The Times for overlooking these disqualifying associations in its endorsement.
Los Angeles resident James Kallis recalls a broken promise:
Villaraigosa disqualified himself from my vote when he ran for mayor of Los Angeles in 2005, two years after being elected to the City Council and making an “iron-clad commitment” to serve out his term.
Villaraigosa was asked later why he was breaking that commitment. He said that “circumstances changed.” That statement makes any Villaraigosa commitment about his future actions unbelievable, because circumstances might change.