LOS ANGELES–Los Angeles City Council Member Antonio Villaraigosa scored a decisive victory in the May 17 run-off election for Los Angeles Mayor–running against incumbent Mayor Jim Hahn. This was the second time the two have faced off with the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA) having endorsed Villaraigosa both during the previous election in 2001and this election cycle. This victory makes Antonio Villaraigosa the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles since 1872 and also positions him to be a political force in national politics.
Villaraigosa rode a wave of voter discontent with Mayor Hahn and his administration and was able to build a substantially broader coalition of support this time–especially among the city’s different ethnic communities–including the Armenian American community. This fact–coupled with voters’ desire for a fresh direction for the city–resulted in a major voter swing in Villaraigosa’s favor.
Commenting on the strong relationship Villaraigosa has with the Armenian American community–Steven J. Dadaian–Chairman of the ANC Western Region–stated–"Antonio’s relationship with our community is based on years of being a leading advocate in supporting justice for the Armenian Genocide–promoting genocide curricula in our schools–strengthening economic ties with Armenia–and increasing the inclusion of Armenian Americans in public service. We congratulate him on his election as Mayor of the nation’s second largest and most dynamic city and look forward to his leadership in making our goals a reality."
The ANCA conducted a major voter awareness campaign for the election and Villaraigosa’s candidacy which included television interviews–producing a TV commercial targeted at the Armenian American community that aired on many Armenian cable stations–print advertising–and providing volunteers to do Armenian voter outreach throughout the campaign.
"As we have seen in both the Glendale city elections and now the Los Angeles Mayor’s election–there is a growing electoral shift occurring in Los Angeles that is creating new opportunities for political leaders of different ethnic backgrounds," said Zanku Armenian–ANCA Liaison to the Villaraigosa campaign. "Recognizing the need for more dynamic and diverse leadership in City Hall–the ANCA endorsed Villaraigosa and deployed substantial resources to get out the Armenian American vote in support of his candidacy. As with his past positions–we felt Antonio Villaraigosa would prove to be a mayor who will work closely with the Armenian American community–ensuring we play a vital role in city government," added Armenian.
Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa will be sworn into office on July 1.