Before becoming mayor, he was a member of the California State Assembly (1994–2000), where he served as the Democratic leader of the Assembly (1996–98), and the Speaker of the California State Assembly (1998–2000).
He ran for mayor in 2001 against Los Angeles City Attorney James Hahn, but lost in the second round of voting. He was elected to the Los Angeles City Council in 2003. In 2005, he ran for mayor again in a rematch against Hahn and won. During his tenure as mayor, he gained national attention for his work and was featured in Time’s story on the country’s 25 most influential Latinos. He was the first Mexican American in over 130 years to have served as Mayor of Los Angeles. He was term limited and could not run for re-election in 2013. He continues to be actively engaged in education, civic engagement, water, immigration, transportation, and economic development issues. He speaks nationally and throughout California on these issues.
Villaraigosa is a member of the Democratic Party, and was a national co-chairman of Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential campaign, a member of President Barack Obama‘s Transition Economic Advisory Board, and Chairman of the 2012 Democratic National Convention in September 2012.