On the morning of Rosh Hashanah last fall, Antonio Villaraigosa accompanied my family and me to services. He had a busy schedule that day, and as the promised hour for the conclusion of services came and went, I told Antonio
I would understand if he left.
"I'm staying," he responded. "I don't do drive-by fellowship."
Indeed, Antonio remained until services had concluded, and he chatted with dozens of temple members before eventually making his way out.
Antonio Villaraigosa doesn't do drive-by fellowship, and he doesn't do drive-by government, either. He will work just as hard for us over the next four years and spend as much time in our communities as he has during the last four weeks of the campaign. That's a refreshing change, because L.A. is in desperate need of real leadership.
A mayoralty is a terrible thing to waste, and for the last four years, I have seen it wasted. It is time to elect a mayor who will meet the basic needs of neighborhoods, while ensuring that Los Angeles reaches its potential as one of the great cities of the modern world. I believe that Antonio Villaraigosa will be that mayor.
In the past two years, Antonio Villaraigosa has become one of my closest friends and allies on the City Council. We were brought together purely by chance -- the council is seated alphabetically, and his "V" was placed next to my "W" -- and he has never failed to impress me.
The pairing of a Latino council member from the Eastside and a Jewish council member from the Westside and the Valley might seem an unusual match, yet Antonio and I have more in common than one might expect.
Each of us believes that leadership means taking a stand and fighting for what's important, even when it's politically unpopular. Each of us believes that we were elected because our constituents wanted us to make a difference. Each of us strives to address the big issues of citywide public policy, while continuing to meet the day-to-day needs of our districts.
We have grown closer together with our shared goal of making Los Angeles a better place to live. Antonio and I collaborated to find additional funding for new police officers without raising taxes. We fought to stop an airport expansion plan that increases our vulnerability to terrorism, and we have begun to implement better management policies for city funds, so residents and businesses in the city can be certain that public resources are not being wasted.
There are too many urgent needs in the city to accept anything less than a dynamic and determined leader to be mayor. Improvements in areas such as preserving the environment, creating meaningful mass transit and enhancing public safety are desperately needed and have gone unaddressed for too long.
We need a mayor who will bring everyone in the region to the table to solve these problems. We also need a mayor who will use his public prominence to tackle issues traditionally thought to be beyond the purview of the job, such as education and health care.
I have encouraged and supported Antonio Villaraigosa's campaign because I know firsthand he has the leadership skills, energy and strength of character to be this great mayor.
Antonio has a unique and deep appreciation for all of our city's diverse communities. He is as comfortable in Boyle Heights or Watts as he is in Century City and Encino, and each of these communities is equally comfortable with him.
Antonio also has a special understanding of the Jewish community in L.A. He has visited Israel twice, and his commitment to our community and Israel is unsurpassed.
The list of Jewish leaders who support Antonio is a veritable who's who of our community -- including Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Los Angeles), Howard Berman (D-Van Nuys), Jane Harman (D-El Segundo) and Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks); state legislators Keith Richman, Sheila Kuehl, Alan Lowenthal and Jackie Goldberg, and former state lawmakers Richard Katz and Bob Hertzberg.
While spending time with Antonio and his family on the campaign trail, I have often wondered how he manages to remain upbeat, hopeful and level-headed while scurrilous campaign charges are thrown at him.
During an exhausting 36-hour marathon campaign weekend recently, I saw Antonio grow energized rather than fatigued as we traveled through neighborhoods all over the city, sharing his vision for Los Angeles with voters. I saw his determination, his stamina and his strength of character get him through that weekend and win converts to his cause. I am confident that those same qualities will make him an outstanding mayor.
In short, I know Antonio Villaraigosa, and I know we can trust him to be a great leader and a great mayor. I encourage you to join me in voting for Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday, May 17.
L.A. City Councilman Jack Weiss represents portions of the southern San Fernando Valley, West Los Angeles and hillside communities in between.
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