It shouldn't be big news that El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reyna de los Angeles de Porciuncula has elected Antonio Villaraigosa as mayor. But it was the 1870s when L.A. last had a mayor of Latino ancestry, so Villaraigosa's win has the feeling of breaking a racial barrier. I remember how we Denver Latinos (well actually, I lived in Littleton at the time) felt about Federico Peña's win back in 1983 -- it was as if we had finally arrived as a political force to be reckoned with. I'm sure lots of people are feeling that way In L.A. today.
Of course, it is one thing for a person of color to win a mayoral election by racial bloc voting when the candidate's racial bloc dominates the city. It is another thing -- and a better thing if you ask me -- for the candidate to win by getting support from across racial lines. That's how Peña won, and that's how Villaraigosa won too -- earning the label "post-ethnic candidate" by running a campaign that recognized the diversity of his city without making his own race the major voting issue. By that standard, you could call John Hickenlooper a "post-ethnic candidate" too, although I think "multi-ethnic" is a better word -- in a city with more than two racial/ethnic groups, race can matter less if a candidate tries to work with all of the different communities in the city.
On the other coast, it looks like New York Latinos are going to be waiting a few more years before getting their first Latino mayor. Fernando Ferrer's candidacy is going down to a well-deserved defeat based on his idiotic remarks about the police shooting of Amadou Diallo. Ferrer's campaign is a lesson in how not to do multi-ethnic urban politics.