Mayor Tom Bradley, who saw the city through its brightest moments during the 1984 Olympics and three of its darkest days during last spring's riots, said Thursday he will retire next year after two decades in office.
The announcement by the 74-year-old Bradley, the first black mayor of the nation's second-largest city, capped months of speculation over his political future. The primary is in April 1993, the general election in June."The time for change has come," the five-term mayor said in a speech to about 300 supporters.
Bradley said the decision to step down was "the most difficult of my life."
"I hope I am doing what is right for Los Angeles, and, my friends, what is right for Los Angeles is right for me," Bradley said.
Bradley cited as his accomplishments revitalizing downtown, improving Los Angeles International Airport, helping clean the environment and initiating a major rapid transit project.
He said he will use the remaining nine months of his term to help rebuild the city from the riots.
"The April unrest tore at my heart, and I will not be at peace until we have healed our wounds and rebuilt our neighborhoods," he said. "Let us all, every one of us, pledge to make Los Angeles a beacon of mutual respect, justice and tolerance from this day forward."
He urged the city to fight racism, which he called "America's greatest evil."
"We in Los Angeles must be the first to slay that demon," he said.
Peter Ueberroth, co-chair of the Rebuild L.A. riot-recovery effort, said he would continue to work closely with Bradley.
"Tom Bradley has been the linchpin that has held this city together. He has been a tireless advocate for all that is good about Los Angeles, even in the worst of times," Ueberroth said.