Former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, who served two terms in the 1990s and saw the city through the 1994 Northridge earthquake, died Wednesday evening, his family announced. He was 92.
Calling Riordan their “beloved husband, father, grandfather and uncle,” the family said he “passed peacefully this evening at his home in Brentwood, surrounded by his wife Elizabeth, family, friends and precious pet dogs.”
Riordan was mayor from 1993-2001 and was the last Republican to hold the office. A moderate, he was reelected in 1997 with more than 60% of the vote. Term limits prevented him from running a third time.
“Mayor Richard Riordan loved Los Angeles, and devoted so much of himself to bettering our City,” current Mayor Karen Bass said in a statement. “He always had a place in his heart for the children of LA, and worked to improve how the City served our youth and communities as a passionate member of the Los Angeles Board of Recreation and Park Commissioners.”
Riordan ran for governor in 2002 but was defeated by businessman Bill Simon in the GOP primary, despite Riordan having the backing of the White House. Democrat Gray Davis won the race but was recalled a year later; Riordan then served in the administration of Arnold Schwarzenegger, who won the race to replace Davis.
Riordan took office about a year after riots over the acquittal of four police officers for the videotaped beating of Rodney King rocked the city in 1992. He saw Los Angeles through the devastating 1994 Northridge earthquake and was the face of the city as it hosted the 2000 Democratic National Convention.
Riordan said hosting the convention, despite being a Republican, was his proudest moment.
“My first love is not being a Republican or a Democrat, for that matter, but being mayor of Los Angeles,” he told CNN in August 2000. “I love this city and having the Democrats here is good for Los Angeles.”
US Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat, recalled his time working with Riordan while on the Los Angeles City Council and said he prioritized the city’s children and the modernization of parks and libraries.
“His response to crisis earned Los Angeles national recognition, both in rebuilding after the devastating Northridge earthquake in 1994 and working with the U. S. Department of Justice to reform the Los Angeles Police Department and advance community policing efforts,” Padilla said in a statement Thursday.
“His legacy has left a lasting mark on our city, and his loss will be deeply felt by all Angelenos.”