Whether the speaker of the California Assembly can be persuaded to run for the 13th District seat on the L.A. City Council is anybody's guess. For now, the position that Villaraigosa has in his sights is mayor.
V. THE CHALLENGE OF ONE CITY
THE LAST TIME I SAW TOM BRADLEY, shortly before his death, was at the 1998 awards brunch of the Jewish Labor Committee. His voice silenced by a stroke, the former mayor nonetheless came to the podium to present the committee's "Tom Bradley Award" to Villaraigosa. The moment was rich in historical overtones -- the architect of a legendary progressive citywide coalition bestowing a mute blessing on the one guy in town working hardest to build the next one.
Whether that coalition will be big enough, coherent enough, to take power in the 2001 election is certainly in question. What's not in question is that a range of candidates, both within that coalition and without, increasingly endorse much of the coalition's agenda on behalf of the working poor. What's not in question is that, whether or not the Valley secedes, Los Angeles already has become a collection of separate cities, divided by a widening chasm of wealth and income, superimposed over its fault lines of race. What's not in question is that the primary challege to confront our next mayor will be to make L.A. into one city -- at a time when neighborhoods are walled off, people still fear to walk the streets at night, middle-class parents have pulled their kids from the public schools, and the city is home every day to a million private secessions.