Antonio Villaraigosa Biography

(Former Mayor of Los Angeles)

Birthday: January 23, 1953 (Aquarius)

Born In: City Terrace, East Los Angeles, California, United States

Antonio Villaraigosa is an American politician, best known as the former mayor of Los Angeles. Born into a middle-class family, he had a difficult life in his childhood and teenage years. His father abandoned the family when Antonio was 5 years old. Antonio later suffered from a spinal tumor that threatened to take away his ability to walk. He somehow completed his high-school graduation and earned a BA degree in history. He later also acquired a law degree. Following his graduation, he worked for a few unions for 15 years. He then joined active politics in 1990 and earned a seat on the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Board. As he climbed up the political ladder of the city, he contested for the mayoral elections in 2001. In 2005, he won the elections and became the first Latino mayor of the city of Los Angeles. His core focus during his first tenure remained gun control laws and public education. In 2009, he was re-elected and thus became the mayor of Los Angeles for the second time in a row.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Antonio Ramón Villaraigosa

Age: 71 Years, 71 Year Old Males


Spouse/Ex-: Patricia Govea (m. 2016), Corina Raigosa (m. 1987–2010)

father: Antonio Ramon Villar Sr.

mother: Natalia Delgado

children: Antonio Villaraigosa Jr., Marisela Villar, Natalia Villaraigosa, Prisila Villar

Born Country: United States

Political Leaders American Men

Height: 5'11" (180 cm), 5'11" Males

U.S. State: California

More Facts

education: East Los Angeles College, University of California, Los Angeles (BA), People's College of Law (JD)

Childhood & Early Life

Antonio Villaraigosa was born Antonio Ramon Villar Jr., on January 23, 1953, in Los Angeles, California, U.S., to Natalia Delgado and Antonio Ramon Sr. His father was of Spanish descent and had immigrated to the United States to start his own business in the country. He quickly became a successful businessman and lived with his family in the City Terrace neighborhood of Los Angeles County. Antonio was the oldest child in the family and grew up with three younger siblings.

The Great Depression was hard on many Americans, and Antonio’s father was among them. Antonio Sr. made huge losses due to the economic slowdown, and it also led his first wife to leave him. Later, he left Antonio and his mother to fend for themselves. Antonio was 5 years old at that time and was attending a local school.

He gained most of his early education from local Catholic schools, but his father abandoning the family was not the only trouble that befell him when he was young. He was diagnosed with a benign tumor in his spinal cord, which left him paralyzed from waist down temporarily. Although he was able to walk a few weeks later, he was left unable to play sports.

He attended a Roman Catholic school called the Cathedral High School and was later expelled from the school after he got into a fight with a classmate. He finally completed his high-school graduation from the Theodore Roosevelt High School. However, he attended night classes and was only allowed to do so because he was exceptionally good in academics.

Following his high-school graduation, he attended a local community college called the East Los Angeles College. Later, he joined the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), from where he graduated with a BA degree in history. He then began studying law at the Peoples College of Law and attempted the bar exam many times, unfortunately failing each time. After a lot of effort, he eventually began his law career.

Continue Reading Below
Early Political Career

Antonio Villaraigosa became politically active around the age of 15, when he began volunteering in the farmer movements and also participated in protest marches. He was a rebellious teenager and was always more inclined toward the liberal and left-leaning ideologies of the Democratic Party.

While he was studying at the UCLA, he became a leader of the group named MEChA, which was formed by the university students to empower themselves to take political actions. However, his personal political ideology clashed with that of the group’s on many occasions, owing to difference of opinions on racial matters. He thus left the group. Since the beginning, he was uncompromising on his political and ideological beliefs.

Antonio Villaraigosa could not clear the bar exam. Thus, after attaining his law degree, he began working at United Teachers Los Angeles (UTLA) and a few other unions. At the UTLA, he was considered a gifted advocate, as he worked toward empowering the union through legal means

He later worked as the president of the Los Angeles wing of the American Civil Liberties Union and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).

He made his full-time entry into politics in 1990, when he earned a position on the Los Angeles Metropolitan Transportation Board. He worked there until 1994, the year he was selected to the California State Assembly. Eventually, he was elected as the speaker of the assembly. After serving three terms consecutively, he officially resigned from the assembly in 2000. It is believed that he did so in order to achieve bigger political goals, as he eyed the mayor’s seat of Los Angeles.

As the Mayor of Los Angeles

In 2001, Antonio Villaraigosa ran for the mayor’s seat of Los Angeles but lost to a much more popular and experienced Democratic opponent named James Hahn. However, in 2003, he successfully managed to win the elections, to earn a seat in the Los Angeles City Council.

In March 2005, he contested for the mayoral elections and won, earning about 58% of the total votes. He thus became the first mayor of Latino descent to have ever become the mayor of Los Angeles.

Some of the first sets of reforms that he brought were related to traffic and transportation. He made it illegal to resume construction work on the roads during rush hours. In addition, he appointed Tiger Teams to manage the flow of heavy traffic on the Los Angeles roads during peak hours. He had also claimed earlier that he would take the subway to work at least once a month, but he could not uphold the promise.

Antonio Villaraigosa was also known for being vocal about his goal to make Los Angeles one of the safest big cities in the country. He was also part of the Mayors Against Illegal Guns Coalition, which was a group of American mayors that put in efforts to increase gun control. Hence, Antonio reflected the ideology of the Democratic Party regarding gun laws.

Continue Reading Below

One of the core issues that helped him win the election was that of the public education sector. Antonio laid the foundation of a non-profit body called Mayor’s Partnership for Los Angeles Schools. Under the newly established organization, he formed a group of the worst-performing schools and aimed at turning them into some of the best-performing schools in the city.

He has been awarded with honorary degrees from universities such as the University of Southern California, the Loyola Marymount University, and the Whittier College. In addition, he was one of the 10 North American mayors who were being considered for the 2008 World Mayor Award

He was also known for forging international relations during his tenure as the mayor. In 2006, he embarked on a 16-day trade mission to many Asian countries and to England. He was invited by Prime Minister Tony Blair to speak about Los Angeles’s efforts toward global warming and homeland security.

In 2006, he held a meeting with businessmen from China, Japan, and South Korea and secured a funding of about $300 million in the form of investments.

However, Antonio Villaraigosa was also criticized in 2009, before the elections for his second term. He was mostly criticized for focusing his attention to the school board while producing negligible results. He was also criticized for many other issues. In 2009, the local and the national media wrote many articles on him.

Despite that, he won the re-elections in 2009 quite smoothly. He also refused to get into a debate with any of his opponents.

Personal Life

Antonio Villaraigosa married for the first time when he was in his early 20s and had two children with his first wife. However, they divorced later.

In 1987, he got married again, this time to Corina Raigosa. He had two children with her. His affair with a TV reporter eventually ended their marriage. Antonio later claimed that all marriages have such ups and downs.

He then married Patricia Govea in August 2016.

Follow Antonio Villaraigosa On:

See the events in life of Antonio Villaraigosa in Chronological Order

How To Cite

Article Title
- Antonio Villaraigosa Biography
- Editors,

People Also Viewed

Barack Obama Biography
Barack Obama
Kathy Hochul Biography
Kathy Hochul
Kristi Noem Biography
Kristi Noem
Nikki Haley Biography
Nikki Haley
Tulsi Gabbard Biography
Tulsi Gabbard
Kamala Harris Biography
Kamala Harris
Gavin Newsom Biography
Gavin Newsom