I'm Antonio Villaraigosa, Mayor of Los Angeles.
Last Tuesday night, I had the honor of watching President Bush deliver his State of the Union Address from the gallery in the United States House of Representatives.
It was an important speech, in which the President highlighted many of the challenges confronting our families and threatening our security — challenges like energy, health care, the need for comprehensive immigration reform, education and Iraq.
Democrats and Republicans, we may not always agree on the solutions to these problems. But I hope we can agree it's time for all of us to join together and move America forward.
As I listened to the President talk Tuesday night, I couldn't help but think about America's mayors. As daunting as issues like education and health care seem, we've moved beyond talk in many of our cities, towards making a real difference for the people we serve.
Take energy: When I came to office in 2005, I set the goal of making Los Angeles the greenest and cleanest big city in America.
Two years later, we're well on our way. We're forging ahead with a plan to reduce air pollution at our ports. We're moving aggressively to convert 20 percent of our electrical supply to renewable energy by 2010. And are working hand-in-hand with the world's other great cities to reduce our collective contributions to greenhouse gases.
In Los Angeles, we're not just fighting climate change - we're strengthening our economy, creating the conditions in which the industries of tomorrow can grow. What we're doing in my city is good for the economy, good for the environment, and good for America's national security. And there's no reason similar steps can't be taken in Washington, DC.
Tuesday night, President Bush identified America's energy challenges. Now, he must turn talk into action, and work with Democrats and Republicans in Congress, who are already moving forward to free America from its dangerous dependence on oil.
One of the most rewarding aspects of being a mayor is the ability to connect with people every day. Mayors don't see our nation's challenges in abstract terms, we see real people who need our help.
Never is that more true than with our troops serving in Iraq. The costs of the Iraq war have been staggering, to our men and women in the military, their families, to our citizens, and to our states, cities and towns.
One overlooked impact of the war is its affect on our national guard — the citizen soldiers America's mayors, governors and the President rely on to keep the homeland safe. Around the country, we've seen thousands of our guard members sent overseas, call-ups which have taken many of our local police, firefighters and first- responders to the Middle East, and left our communities less prepared to respond to natural disasters and other emergencies.
Now, with the President pushing escalation and an open-ended policy in Iraq, the pressure on our guard will be even more severe. It's just another reason it's time to change course.
In Iraq and here at home, it's time for a new direction.
We must stop talking about challenges, like energy, and work together to solve them.
Fortunately, looking to our cities, we know it can be done — by putting creativity ahead of ideology, flexibility ahead of partisanship, and the right results for America above all.
I'm Los Angeles Mayor Antonia Villaraigosa. Thank you for listening.