LOS ANGELES – Nearly two months since his inauguration as the first Latino mayor of Los Angeles in more than 100 years, Antonio Villaraigosa (search) faces the daunting and expensive task of delivering on his campaign promises.
Curbing crime, fixing public education, planting one million trees and reducing traffic on the nation's most overcrowded highways were hefty promises to make, and they all carry hefty price tags for a city already $300 million in debt.
"I'm never going to settle for mediocrity. I'm always going to set the bar high, as we should. If the leader of the city doesn't set the bar high then, who will? That's what people want us to do," said Villaraigosa, who was sworn in on July 1 as the state's 41st mayor.
While Villaraigosa has lofty goals, political analysts say even small successes will pay off politically.
"Baby steps will do, baby steps forward because a lot of people feel that we've been taking large steps backwards in the past few years. There's a very tremendous disillusionment with government in general," said political analyst Allan Hoffenblum (search).
But even baby steps don't come cheap, and Villaraigosa has already reluctantly raised the possibility of higher taxes.
"I'm open to that but first I want to continue to find money within our own budget. People need to see we're going to live within our means," he said.
The mayor is definitely still in his honeymoon stage with Los Angelinos. How long it lasts might depend on how many promises he's able to fulfill without raising taxes.
All the while, his successes and failures are likely being watched closely by the Democratic Party, which is looking for a rising Latino politician to place in the national spotlight.
Click in the video box near the top of the story to watch a report by FOX News' Anita Vogel.