kids encyclopedia robot

Richard Riordan facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Quick facts for kids
Richard Riordan
Richard Riordan 1990s.jpg
39th Mayor of Los Angeles
In office
July 1, 1993 – July 1, 2001
Preceded by Tom Bradley
Succeeded by James Hahn
Personal details
Richard Joseph Riordan

(1930-05-01)May 1, 1930
New York City, U.S.
Died April 19, 2023(2023-04-19) (aged 92)
Political party Republican
  • Eugenia Warady
    (m. 1955; ann. 1977)
  • Jill Noel
    (m. 1980; div. 1998)
  • Nancy Daly
    (m. 1998; died 2009)
  • Elizabeth Gregory
    (m. 2017)
Children 5
Alma mater
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Army
Years of service 1952–1955
Rank US Army O2 shoulderboard rotated.svg First Lieutenant
Battles/wars Korean War

Richard Joseph Riordan (May 1, 1930 – April 19, 2023) was an American investment banker, businessman, lawyer, politician, and Korean War veteran. A member of the Republican Party, Riordan served as the 39th Mayor of Los Angeles from 1993 to 2001.

Elected in 1993 and re-elected in 1997, he served until 2001, when he was term limited. He remains the last Republican Mayor of Los Angeles over twenty years later. He ran unsuccessfully for Governor in the 2002 California gubernatorial election, losing the Republican primary. After politics, he resumed his business career, specializing in private equity.

Early life, education, and career

Riordan was born in Flushing, Queens, to an Irish-American family, the son of Geraldine (Doyle) and William O. Riordan. He was raised in New Rochelle, New York, and graduated from Princeton University in 1952 with an A.B. in philosophy, after completing a senior thesis titled "A Study of the Thomistic Faculty Psychology." He received a J.D. from The University of Michigan Law School in 1956.

That year, he moved to Los Angeles, joining the downtown law firm of O'Melveny & Myers. In 1959, he left to become a partner of Nossaman LLP. In 1975, he was a founding partner of the law firm Riordan & McKinzie, which merged with Bingham McCutcheon in 2003. In 1982, he was a founder of the private equity firm Riordan, Lewis & Haden.

Mayor of Los Angeles

Bill Clinton and Richard Riordan
Riordan with President Bill Clinton in 1993

When Tom Bradley announced he was retiring as Mayor of Los Angeles, Riordan set his sights on the 1993 election. Riordan won 54%–46%, becoming the first Republican mayor in over 36 years. As Mayor, the heavily Democratic City Council blocked many of his proposals, or they proved unfeasible in reality. For example, the police academy did not have enough classroom space or instructors to train as many new police officers as Riordan had initially promised. He streamlined certain business regulations and established "one-stop" centers around the city for services, like permit applications.

In 1997, the year he was re-elected mayor over California State Senator Tom Hayden.

Riordan's tenure was marked by controversy over the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority's Red Line subway’s construction cost overruns. Because the overruns resulted in MTA funds being reallocated from bus funding, the Bus Riders Union sued the city, alleging racial discrimination, resulting in a 1996 consent decree that eviscerated MTA funding for subway and light rail construction projects. Riordan publicly stated that he regretted signing the consent decree and it was his biggest mistake as mayor.

Before becoming mayor, Riordan spearheaded the city's successful term limit ballot initiative and he was therefore term-limited from office in 2001. Riordan endorsed his adviser and friend, Steve Soboroff, to succeed him. Soboroff, however, came in third in the non-partisan mayoral primary election. Former California State Assembly Speaker Antonio Villaraigosa advanced to the runoff against James Hahn. Riordan endorsed Villaraigosa in the second round, but Hahn won and succeeded him as mayor. Four years later, Villaraigosa defeated Hahn in the 2005 rematch and became Mayor.

2002 California gubernatorial race

In 2002, Riordan decided to seek the governorship. In the Republican primary election, he faced conservative businessman Bill Simon and former California Secretary of State Bill Jones. Although Riordan had a 30-point lead early in the race, Simon beat him by 18 points. Riordan’s loss mainly can be attributed to a conservative Republican party base that rejected his moderate Republicanism and efforts to move the party to the political center. Incumbent Democratic Governor Gray Davis felt he had a much better chance to beat Simon, so he spent millions of dollars running attack ads against Riordan in the Republican primary. Davis’s cross-party strategy was successful. Riordan lost the primary, and Davis defeated Simon 47%–42% in the general election.

The Los Angeles Examiner

In early 2003, Riordan circulated a prototype of a locally-focused, sophisticated, and politically-independent weekly newspaper, The Los Angeles Examiner, he hoped to start publishing in June. It was, however, never published. Riordan put the project on hold when Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who defeated Grey Davis in the October 2003 recall election, appointed him Secretary of Education. He served in the position from 2003 until he resigned in 2005.

Involvement in city politics since 2001

Since being mayor, Riordan has been involved in Los Angeles politics. In the 2001 Los Angeles mayoral election, Riordan endorsed his friend and adviser Steve Soboroff in the primary and Antonio Villaraigosa in the general election. In 2005, he backed former State Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg in the primary and Antonio Villaraigosa in the general election. In both races, he chose not to endorse James Hahn.

Riordan has played a role in City Council elections, supporting Bill Rosendahl, who won election in the Eleventh District in 2005; Monica Rodriguez, who lost to Seventh District Councilman Richard Alarcon in 2007; and Adeena Bleich, who lost to Paul Koretz and David Vahedi, who advanced to the runoff election. In 2013, Riordan endorsed Wendy Greuel for mayor. She ultimately was defeated by then-Council member Eric Garcetti.

Personal life and legacy

Riordan died at his Brentwood home on April 19, 2023, at the age of 92.

The Richard J. Riordan Central Library in Los Angeles is named after him. Riordan owned the Original Pantry Cafe, which has operated in Los Angeles since 1924, and Gladstones Malibu, which has been open since 1972.

kids search engine
Richard Riordan Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.