Former Mayor Riordan, Councilwoman Molina were influential City servants

Goodbye to Two Giants

Two major figures who helped shape the modern City of LA and its government recently passed away.

Richard J. Riordan when he was Coliseum Commissioner, 1987. Courtesy the Herald Examiner Collection/Los Angeles Public Library

Richard Riordan, mayor from 1993 to 2001 when he left due to term limits, died April 19. He was 92. Gloria Molina, a longtime activist in the Chicana movement and the first Latina Councilwoman in LA history, served on the City Council from 1987 to 1991 before rising to higher office. She died May 14 of cancer. She was 74.

Riordan proved instrumental in the restoration of the City after the Rodney King riots in 1992 and the Northridge Earthquake in 1993; the LAPL Central Library restoration after its devastating fire of 1986; and he built up the LAPD during his tenure. After he left office, he worked, controversially to many City employees, to reform City pensions in 2012, but he withdrew that plan before it reached the ballot.

Gloria Molina. Courtesy USC

Gloria Molina served the City Council, the California State Assembly the LA County Board of Supervisors and the LA County MTA. She started as a young activist in her native East LA and was first elected to the State Assembly before coming home and being elected to the City Council in 1985. She left the Council in 1990 to for higher office in LA County, where she was a longtime supervisor. She ran for the City Council again in 2015, but lost the election.


In addition to their innumerable legislative-based legacies, Riordan and Molina have been paid tribute in other, more public ways. The Richard J. Riordan Central Library in Los Angeles is named after him for his leadership in the building’s restoration. This year, Grand Park downtown was renamed for Gloria Molina, as has been a stop on an MTA light rail line in her native East LA. The LA County Fair has named its annual quilt contest after her, an avid practitioner.

For more information on these two influential figures who loved and served LA, Club Members are encouraged to research them at the Los Angeles Public Library and through other City departments.