AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORERose Parade grand marshal Rita Moreno talks New Year’s Day outfit and ‘West Side Story’ remake Villaraigosa decided to enter the race only after several other prominent officials – state Sen. Richard Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, Councilman Bernard Parks and former Assembly Speaker Bob Hertzberg – had announced their plans to challenge Hahn. And he opted to run although he had promised constituents in the 14th District he would serve a full, four-year term after he was elected in 2003. But, with Hahn politically weakened after the battle over San Fernando Valley secession and a series of corruption investigations, Villaraigosa won a place in the runoff and emerged victorious over Hahn. Since then, Villaraigosa has not stopped running. His daily schedule is routinely jammed with events from morning ’til night – including appearances on the weekend. He has made numerous trips to Sacramento and Washington, D.C. – some even before he was sworn into office on July 1 – to appeal for funds for Los Angeles. And he has become a national symbol as the prototype of municipal chief executive. In late November, Villaraigosa – who’d dropped out of high school as a teen – was selected as keynote speaker at the New Mayors Conference by the John F. Kennedy School of Politics at Harvard University. A lifelong liberal with ties to the ACLU and the union movement, Villaraigosa has become one of the strongest supporters of the Los Angeles Police Department and the leading critic of the Los Angeles Unified School District. As head of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, he has overseen the debut of the Orange Line in the Valley, revived plans for a Wilshire Boulevard subway, accelerated clean energy plans and cleared the way for major revisions to Hahn’s controversial $11 billion LAX modernization plan. — Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390 [email protected] local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Promising to unite all the city’s residents and erase the shadows of corruption lingering over City Hall, Antonio Villaraigosa took the reins as Los Angeles 41st mayor and the first Latino in the post in nearly two centuries. In a runoff with Mayor James Hahn – a repeat of their 2001 contest – Villaraigosa won 14 of the city’s 15 council districts, from the most conservative in the northwest San Fernando Valley to the most liberal on the Westside and Hollywood. His election demonstrated the growing influence of Latino politics in the nation’s second-largest city, even though he continues to downplay the role of race in the election. “I may be the first, but I won’t be the last,” Villaraigosa tells audiences.