Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, in a discussion with Bob Rasmussen, dean of the Gould School of Law, spoke about his plans and achievements for the city on Tuesday.
Villaraigosa said he intends to shift his focus for the remainder of his time in office to the city’s transportation system, the education system and building connections with the global community. Villaraigosa is ineligible to run for mayor in 2013 because of term limits.
“We’re trying to accelerate the development of the transportation system from 30 years to 10,” Villaraigosa said.
Los Angeles is looking for cleaner and more advanced technology and is also looking to foreign trade as a means of developing the city’s economy and attracting new businesses.
“We are engaged in an effort to do what we can to bring foreign trade investment to [Los Angeles], and we’re leading the country in exports to China and Asia,” Villaraigosa said.
Villaraigosa said he wished he had invested more time as mayor promoting Los Angeles abroad.
“I would have spent more time traveling around the world,” Villaraigosa said. “L.A. is just starting to understand that it’s a global city, and our connections to India, Brazil, Mexico, Russia -— all of this is our future.”
Villaraigosa also discussed the progress that has been made and strides that have yet to be taken in regard to education.
“If you set high standards, these kids can learn, and I’ve learned that we make too many excuses about factors that make it difficult, but not impossible, for these kids to learn,” Villaraigosa said. “For a long time I challenged this district about the number of kids who were dropping out, and there have been studies done showing that this number is higher than 50 percent, but when I first got here, it was 75 percent.”
Villaraigosa also said there is a need for more teachers, a more enhanced education system and greater investment into the Los Angeles education system.
Other goals for the city include improving the system of overcrowding in California jails, reducing the levels of poverty that currently exist within the city and working on reducing the city’s carbon footprint.
Villaraigosa said he will continue fighting for change, although his term as mayor ends in less than two years.
“In the end, you can’t worry about the press cycle,” Villaraigosa said. “You just got to keep on plugging away and then folks can evaluate what you’ve done once it’s said and done.”