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Villaraigosa seeks to squelch Cabinet rumors

The mayor says he will finish his term, a move that makes him an unlikely candidate to replace Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.

February 01, 2013|By David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times
  • Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends the California State Society Inaugural luncheon on January 19 in Washington, D.C.
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa attends the California State Society… (Tish Wells / MCT )

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Friday that he plans to stay mayor until the end of his term June 30, an announcement aimed at ending talk of him taking a post as President Obama's secretary of Transportation.

"I have said many times that I will be focused on my job as mayor of Los Angeles until 11:59 and 59 seconds on June 30, 2013," Villaraigosa said in a prepared statement. "I am flattered and humbled by the speculation that has included my name for a possible Cabinet secretary position, but I am firmly committed to remaining in L.A. and finishing my term."

For weeks, Villaraigosa has been the subject of speculation that he could fill the job being vacated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. Friday's announcement means that he would be an unlikely candidate for the post even if it went unfilled for months, said one person familiar with the mayor's decision.

Villaraigosa played a key role in crafting a provision in last year's federal transportation bill designed to speed up projects around the country, including in Los Angeles. He was also one of the most prominent Latino supporters for Obama, who has been under pressure to appoint Latinos to his Cabinet.

The former California Assembly speaker was chairman of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., last summer.

In his statement, the mayor said he was proud of his work in reducing crime, addressing air pollution and expanding the region's rail network. That third achievement was one of the reasons Villaraigosa had been so heavily discussed as someone who could advise Obama on transportation issues.

david.zahniser@latimes.com

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