Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks spurned Mayor James Hahn and endorsed challenger Antonio Villaraigosa for mayor Tuesday, bolstering the Hispanic candidate's bid to gain greater black support.

The former mayoral candidate cited Villaraigosa's leadership and ability to build consensus as reasons for his endorsement, though many believe it was all but inevitable given the split that developed between Parks and Hahn when the mayor forced Parks out as police chief in 2002. Political observers have said that move has cost Hahn considerable backing among black residents, who were once among his most loyal supporters. Parks later was elected to the City Council.

"This city needs leadership," Parks said outside of Alexander Science Center School, where Villaraigosa was speaking about his education policy. "That's why I am proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with a man whom I trust will be a great leader for all the residents of Los Angeles."

Parks added that he has worked closely with Villaraigosa on transportation, airport and budget issues while on the council and planned to continue do so if the councilman was elected mayor.

Villaraigosa has gained a broad range of endorsements. They include former Mayor Richard J. Riordan, Assemblywoman Judy Chu, supervisors Gloria Molina and Yvonne Brathwaite Burke, San Fernando Valley community leader Richard Close and Representatives Maxine Waters, Brad Sherman, Jane Harman, Henry Waxman and Howard Berman.

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