LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Antonio Villaraigosa formally took the oath of office Friday as the city's 41st mayor, promising to bring a new era of prosperity and unity to a city troubled by gang crime, choking traffic and failing schools.
The son of a Mexican immigrant who escaped a troubled youth, Villaraigosa becomes the first Hispanic to hold the office since 1872.
In an outdoor ceremony on the steps of city hall, he spoke of a city with many troubles but also great potential.
"Let's dare to dream," he told a cheering crowd of thousands that included former Vice President Al Gore and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Despite the city's affluence, "too many parents fear for their children's safety ... too many families are swimming against the tide of a declining quality of life," Villaraigosa said. "We stand poised between the promise of immense possibility and, if we fail to act, a future of profound uncertainty."
Villaraigosa, 52, was elected with 59 percent of the vote last month, avenging a 2001 loss to Mayor James Hahn, a fellow Democrat who was weakened by an ongoing corruption probe at city hall.