The May 17 mayoral election will challenge the assumption that Los Angeles blacks are reluctant to support Hispanic candidate Antonio Villaraigosa due to lingering tensions over who gets the spoils of political power.”I would definitely vote for a Hispanic mayor if he is looking out for the best interests of African Americans,” Getro Elize said, a native of Los Angeles.
“The city could use someone new in office and the current mayor isn’t doing too much for Californians anyway,” the Howard University business major said.
To beat current mayor James Hahn, Villaraigosa must receive a large number of black votes.In Hahn’s 2001 runoff victory over Villaraigosa, African Americans were a key factor, with eight of every 10 voting for Hahn.Hahn, however, received minimal support in the March 8 primary, suggesting that Villaraigosa may have a chance.
“In the primary, roughly half of black voters voted for a non-black, even with a black in the race,” Franklin D. Gilliam Jr. told blacknews.com. Gilliam, a student of racial politics and a political scientist at the University of California, Los Angeles said.
“For black voters, the issue is not skin color or family legacy, but ‘what are you doing for my community?'”Villaraigosa has endorsements from prominent black leaders such as City Councilman Bernard Parks and Rep. Maxine Waters.Villaraigosa, a high school dropout who rose to become speaker of the California Assembly and advisor to John Kerry’s presidential campaign, would make a milestone for Hispanics if elected.”A Hispanic mayor would do well,” Lisa Mays said, a sophomore Howard University student.
“Hispanics are growing in numbers and the majority of California speaks Spanish. As long as he pushes African American issues, he won’t have a problem securing the black vote.”