Antonio Villaraigosa's Full Speech At the California Democratic Convention

­­Antonio Villaraigosa
“More than a Dream”
California Democratic Party Convention 2018
February 24, 2018

Hello Democrats – Saludos a todos!

We’re here today because the California we grew up in was more than a dream. It was a real place where people could work hard, make it into the middle class – and stay there. I’m running for governor because we need to make that dream possible again.

We may not all start with the same opportunities, but we all want the same things: a good paying job, a safe neighborhood to raise our kids, a home we can afford, quality public schools, access to affordable health care and most of all – dignity and respect!

But, too many Californians are living paycheck to paycheck. Millions of immigrants are living in the shadows. And millions of Californians are working harder than ever before, but still falling further and further behind.

We are two Californias: one rich – and getting richer. And another where millions of hardworking families are still struggling to make their California dream come true.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. They call us the “Golden State,” and we can shine again – if we focus on what matters: creating more economic opportunity everywhere. This isn’t an abstract idea to me. It isn’t something I heard about at a panel at Davos. This has been my life’s vocation.

Some call it “income inequality,” but it’s much deeper than that. It’s time with your family inequality because you have to work two or three jobs. It’s opportunity inequality because your kids don’t have the same quality schools. It’s health inequality because you’re not living at the top of the hill, but at the bottom where the air and water are dirty.

Most of all, it’s respect inequality because that’s what a good job brings — pride, dignity and respect. And that’s why my priority as governor will be creating middle-class jobs that make it possible for families to buy homes, send their kids to college and retire with dignity.

We have enough Democrats worrying about Tesla drivers. We need a governor who is thinking every day about how families are going to earn gas money or bus fare to get to work.

As president of the ACLU of Southern California, I never gave up on the idea that every single person deserves equality, opportunity and respect. As speaker, I didn’t give up on the notion that universal healthcare was a right – not a privilege – which is why I authored and passed one of the largest expansions of healthcare in California until the ACA.

As Mayor of Los Angeles, I took over a city on the brink of bankruptcy, and I wasn’t afraid to be honest and make the hard choices it took to get us back on track. And we did get back on track, cutting violent crime by nearly 50 percent, taking on and turning around schools that had failed many of our kids for generations.

I wasn’t afraid to fight for what matters because being a progressive is more than a press release that helps politicians climb up the political ladder. Progressive in California must mean helping millions more climb the economic ladder!

Progress should be measured by how many Californians are: earning a middle-class wage, attending quality public schools, living in affordable homes, able to find quality and affordable healthcare and can retire with dignity.

I grew up in a home rich in love, but limited in opportunity.

I was raised in a neighborhood where we shared food with the families that couldn’t quite make it until payday. I’ve seen the despair of a man who cannot feed his family and the fear of a woman with children being evicted from her home.

I know the “other” California because I grew up in that California.

The great American poet Langston Hughes asked us, “What happens to a dream deferred?”

I’ve seen what happens when our dreams are deferred.

I’ve seen the homeless on our streets grow as fast as the population of our prisons. But I’ve also seen the hope in a child’s face who attends a school that has turned around. I’ve seen redemption swell the heart of a man once incarcerated who has been given a second chance. I’ve witnessed the pride of a working family being handed the keys to their first home.

Our California dream can no longer be deferred.

I’m asking you to believe in it again — to believe in each other again.

Because it’s more than just a dream.

It’s California.

And together – we are going to make our dream come true again.

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