With the March 3 Los Angeles mayoral election drawing closer, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is hitting the streets for his re-election campaign as he opened a campaign office this week in South Los Angeles.
Located on 3427 Crenshaw Blvd., the office lies in the heart of the Crenshaw District, one of the city's last predominately African-American communities. It is one of three that the campaign has opened this month - the others being in Van Nuys and East L.A.
At the opening ceremony on Feb. 15, Villaraigosa told those in attendance that the coalition he has built up during his term would continue the work he has started since being elected in 2005.
"We've laid a solid foundation for the future and we are going to build on it with better jobs, better education for our children and safer streets for everyone," Villaraigosa said, "We've brought people together and gotten things done, that is what this election is about."
Villaraigosa won the mayoral race four years ago with the support of the African-American community, including influential backers such as Rep. Maxine Waters, Councilman Bernard Parks and Earvin "Magic" Johnson.
After winning 33 percent during the general election, he defeated incumbent James Hahn in a run-off two months later.
Despite fierce opposition to his handling of the L.A. Unified School District the past two years from members of the community, the mayor has mostly enjoyed a popular first term.
A poll conducted on November 4 by the Thomas and Dorothy Leavy Center at Loyola Marymount University showed that Villaraigosa had a 61 percent job approval rating.
In the same poll, African-Americans gave him a 50 percent approval rating.
The election is expected to serve as a springboard for his potential entry into the governor's race next year. Villaraigosa told the Associated Press on Feb. 9 that he would consider running regardless if he is re-elected.
"I can tell you that I will look at the issue further down the road, but I'm focused on this job and focused on re-election," he said.
Highlights of his term have included overseeing the city's lowest crime rate since 1961 and spearheading the movement to make Los Angeles a "green city." The city currently generates 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources and is expected to reach 20 percent by next year.
The mayor is expected to face minimal opposition from the 21 challengers that have entered the race, the most prominent being local attorney Walter Moore who finished sixth in the 2005 election.