LOS ANGELES -- Tom Bradley, the son of Texas sharecroppers who become the first black mayor of Los Angeles and held the job longer than anyone else, declared yesterday that after 19 years in office he will not seek re-election.
Speaking in a downtown hotel to an invited audience of longtime friends and supporters -- and surprising few if any in attendance -- the 73-year-old mayor said it was a time for change.
"Change allowed me to knock down the old doors of prejudice," he said of his initial election as mayor in 1973. "Change allowed me to break new ground, forge new alliances and open new paths. I, as much as anyone, understand the need -- and the time -- for change.
"I have served a record five terms as mayor," Mr. Bradley added. "Others should now have the opportunity and responsibility to bring their vision to bear on the future of this great community."
Mr. Bradley will step down next June, following the election of a successor, exactly two decades after he was sworn in.
Mr. Bradley's announcement marks the end of an extraordinary era in Los Angeles politics. Elected by a biracial coalition, he opened City Hall to minorities and women, creating a government that for the first time gave voice to the city's diverse population.
During his speech yesterday, Mr. Bradley spoke proudly of his efforts to make government representative of the city's diverse makeup.