Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (file photo)


A recent poll for the 2018 California gubernatorial primary shows former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is hot on the heels of current frontrunner Gavin Newsom, lieutenant governor of the Golden State. So far, Newsom has the support of 23 percent of the voters, but Villaraigosa has 18. The poll also shows that about 3 percent of the voters have not decided.  

Villaraigosa said the numbers  are sending the state government a very clear message.  

“Our message of jobs and economic opportunity for all is starting to resonate,” he told the Sentinel this week. 

“I feel like we’re moving up in the poles because people feel like they’re working hard and aren’t moving ahead. The economy is leaving too many people behind…” 

The most recent official poverty statistics, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, show that 14.3% of Californians lacked enough resources—about $24,000 per year for a family of four—to meet basic needs in 2016,  The rate has declined significantly from 15.3% in 2015, but it is well above the recent low of 12.4% reached in 2007. Moreover, the official poverty line does not account for California’s housing costs or other critical family expenses and resources. 

And, said PPIC analysts, Poverty in California is even higher when factoring in key family needs and resources. Overall, about four in ten Californians are living in or near poverty, they said.  Nearly one in five (19.2%) Californians were not in poverty but lived fairly close to the poverty line (up to one and a half times above it).  

Villaraigosa said his focus has always been and will continue to be economic justice.  

“My whole life I’ve stood up for social and economic justice,” he said. 

“I have a track record of fighting to improve the lives of people who have been underserved and left out. I think that’s what separates me from the other candidates.  

The others are State Treasurer John Chiang, who is in third place with nine percent, San Diego businessman John Cox, a Republican also with nine percent, Republican State Assemblyman Travis Allen, with six percentage and Democrat Delaine Eastin, a former superintendent of public instruction, with three points.  The top two candidates will participate in a run off in November. Meanwhile, Republicans are doing poorly in the polls, which could mean California would not have a Republican on the gubernatorial ballot for the first time in modern history.  

Villaraigosa served two terms as Los Angeles’ first Latino mayor since 1872. His legacy includes improvements in the city’s transportation, education, public safety and taxes. He was presented with the Tom Bradley Legacy Foundation Achievement Award in 2006 for “following in the footsteps of the first African American Mayor of Los Angeles who served the city for 51 years.” 

: Former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is fast closing the gap in voter approval between him and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the current front runner according to a recent poll (courtesy photo)

Citing the similarity of the two mayors in building coalitions among diverse communities, the speakers praised Villaraigosa for his vision for the City of Los Angeles.  

In May of that same year,  Villaraigosa was awarded an honorary degree by Loyola Marymount University, and was the Class of 2006 Commencement Speaker. On May 12, 2006, he was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters by the University of Southern California and was the Class of 2006 commencement speaker. 

Villaraigosa was one of ten mayors from North America to be short-listed as a finalist for the 2008 World Mayor Award. 

Meanwhile, Newsom’s campaign is centered on “bold leadership for California”. But that’s not enough Villaraigosa said, and the polls show that.  

“But the message is, a great state is a state where we’re growing together, not leaving so many people behind. People are looking for a governor who understands we have to grow together and invest in every community…”