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Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa prepares coffee in his residence on June 25, 2013. On Tuesday, he had a full schedule of morning stops to thank voters for their support during the last eight years of his administration. He leaves office this Sunday, June 30, 2013

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Mayor Villaraigosa, laundry in hand, leaves his residence in Los Angeles to start his day early in the morning on June 25, 2013. On Tuesday, he had a full schedule of morning stops to thank voters for their support during the last eight years of his administration.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa had a full schedule of morning stops to thank voters for their support during the last eight years of his administration.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa eats a jalapeno pepper while having breakfast at Lucy's Panaderia and Restaurant in Los Angeles on June 25, 2013.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, right, greets Lupita Estrada, left, and Octavio Navarro before ordering breakfast at Lucy's Panaderia and Restaurant.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa in his office at City Hall after a meeting of the Executive Employee Relations Committee.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, far left, poses with Eduardo Cuevas, 7, in a blue T-shirt, and his brother Fernando Cuevas, 10, in a black T-shirt, as their father, Fernando Cuevas takes a picture the Original Pantry.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa leaves Langer's Delicatessen.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Mayor Villaraigosa, center, with Los Angleles Police Chief Charlie Beck, right, at the scene of the shooting involving two Los Angeles police detectives.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, right, greets Los Angeles Police Officer Gustavo Martinez outside the Original Pantry.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, left,,hugs of Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa, left, greets Gloria Ayala, a seamstress at Mercado La Paloma.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa gives a hug to Gaye Williams, his chief of staff, outside her office.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa enters his office at City Hall.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa checks artworks, some of which were hung at City Hall during his administration.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa, left, plants a kiss on the head of Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa stands in a corridor of City Hall.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

Villaraigosa enters his SUV beneath City Hall.

PHOTOGRAPH BY: Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times

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My morning with the mayor

By Gary Friedman

For eight years, I have photographed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, from his days on the campaign trail in 2005 at a Little League game in Sylmar to this week, his last as chief executive of the City of the Angels. We developed a sense of trust — key with a journalist and his subject — and the mayor has occasionally allowed me to go behind the scenes and capture moments the public wouldn’t usually see.

I was there on a jubilant election night as Villaraigosa, his head covered with confetti, listened on his cellphone as Mayor James Hahn called him to concede defeat. Before the inauguration, he allowed me into his private office as he rehearsed his inaugural speech. I was also allowed into his office on other occasions and photographed him as he rode the elevator on his way to deliver his third State of the City address. Another photograph three years later shows the mayor preparing another State of the City address, his head buried in his hands as he thought about the speech.

As his final day in office, June 30, approached, I asked Villaraigosa if I could accompany him for a morning. The day began with the mayor making coffee at his home, and I photographed him as he walked out the door with a bag of laundry. We hopped into a SUV driven by a member of his security detail and were off.

The schedule took an immediate turn when two Los Angeles police detectives were shot Tuesday, and instead of heading to Lucy’s Panaderia and Restaurant, we went directly to the command center where the mayor was briefed by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. The two detectives, who were not seriously wounded, returned to the scene where the mayor met privately with them. Unfortunately, this was one image I was not allowed to make.

Back in the car, the mayor, deeply concerned about the shooting, was visibly relieved that the officers were not seriously wounded and reflected that there has been only one Los Angeles police officer killed on his watch in the last eight years. Two other officers were killed overseas while serving in the military.

The day was a series of stops, one by one, to places Villaraigosa had visited while he was campaigning for mayor eight years earlier and he thanked the surprised patrons at each location for their support. Villaraigosa, in an open collar instead of his usual tie, was as relaxed as I’ve ever seen him. When we finally made it to Lucy’s, a hungry mayor sat down for breakfast. At the historic Pantry, owned by former Mayor Richard Riordan, Villaraigosa stopped at each table, even introducing himself as the mayor to visiting tourists from Japan.

Next came a quick jaunt to Los Angeles City Hall, where the mayor was hugged by Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson before the start of the Executive Employee Relations Committee. Then the mayor gave a tender kiss to the bald head to Councilman Dennis Zine in the hallway following the meeting. Back on the road, he received an inspiring text from his niece, followed by a text exchange between the mayor and one of his daughters. He warmly refers to her as “Sunshine.” She calls him “Daddy Bear.”

The series of quick stops continued. At Langer’s Delicatessen, he shared a quiet conversation with owner Norm Langer. Later, he was warmly greeted at the Mercado La Paloma by seamstress Gloria Ayala, who has known the mayor for 10 years. Two more stops and 1,226 pictures later, my time photographing Antonio Villaraigosa, as mayor, had come to an end.

Might there be more to Villaraigosa’s political future down the road — a chance for us to meet up once again?

Time will tell.

Gary Friedman

gary.friedman@latimes.com

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