José Huizar announces endorsement of John Chiang’s candidacy for governor at June 6 press conference in Mariachi Plaza. Photo from José Huízar’s Twitter.

State Treasurer John Chiang launched a one-year road trip tour of California Tuesday in Boyle Heights, where he picked up Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huízar’s endorsement of his candidacy for governor.

“John is the very definition of a public servant,” said Huízar, who joined Chiang at a press conference in Mariachi Plaza Tuesday morning. “If you want flash and no substance, look no further than the White House… but if you want a trusted, steady and fearless leader who knows when to be tough against special interests… then John Chiang is your choice.”

“I am so honored to be in this community,” responded Chiang. “I strongly support José and his extraordinary effort to strengthen [Boyle Heights].”

The endorsement is notable because Boyle Heights is the birthplace of one of Chiang’s top rivals for the governorship, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and because Huízar and Villaraigosa are former political allies.

Villaraigosa recruited Huízar to run for the council seat when he ran for mayor in 2005 but then backed former County Supervisor Gloria Molina when she ran against Huízar in 2015. Villaraigosa has not commented on Huízar’s endorsement.

“John Chiang is a powerful voice for working class families and has a record of fighting for communities like Boyle Heights by saving taxpayers billions of dollars as Controller and Treasurer,” Huízar said in a statement released by the Chiang campaign.

After the press conference, the candidate was followed by a film crew as he stepped into Libros Schmibros and chatted with the lending library’s founder David Kipen about his favorite books. A few minutes later, crew in tow, Chiang walked a few blocks East to Al & Bea’s Burritos where he met the popular eatery’s owners before chatting with a group of preselected community members.

After taking menu suggestions from Ryan Carreón –grandson of the burrito shop founders– and placing his staff’s order, Chiang sat down to speak with local community leaders Margarita Amador and Terry González Cano. Amador, a former member of the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council, spoke about the need for more affordable housing while González-Cano, a volunteer at Resurrection Church, addressed the state’s slow and incomplete response to the environmental crisis caused by lead and arsenic contamination from the closed Exide plant in Vernon.

Chiang also spoke with Samuel Robles, executive director of the Weingart East Los Angeles YMCA and with Ernesto Espinoza, Vice President of Real Estate and Asset Management at the East LA Community Corporation (ELACC).

“This is such a great community, I love our diversity,” said Chang, who addressed the issue of gentrification in a brief chat with Boyle Heights Beat.

“It’s hard to watch all these locally owned stores that make neighborhoods very different falling by the wayside,” he said. “You don’t want every community to look the same, you want a community to reflect the local people and the local flavor.”

Chiang plans to announce another endorsement at the tour’s second stop in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Antonio Mejías-Rentas

Antonio Mejías-Rentas is a Senior Editor at Boyle Heights Beat, where he mentors teenage journalists, manages the organization’s website and covers local issues. A veteran bilingual journalist, he's...

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