Over the last three weeks, Villaraigosa has begun his re-election campaign.

Villaraigosa has pressed his case for his accomplishments over the past four years - and has acknowledged at least some of his mistakes.

At a recent Daily News editorial board meeting, the first thing Villaraigosa raised was his divorce from his wife of 20 years, Corina, and the later admission he was having an affair.

It stalled, for a time, what had been a long honeymoon between Villaraigosa and the city.

"I'd like to start with the elephant in the room," Villaraigosa said.

"The fact is I made a big mistake in the way I handled my personal affairs. I acknowledge that and take responsibility for it.

"A lot of people had a lot of hope for me. And, it hurt me. A lot of people were disappointed. I learned a lot from it.

"I'm not going to suggest that everyone supports everything I've done.

"There are differences. But people do feel good about Los Angeles now. I think people feel mostly positive about the city."

The mayor's refusal to appear at events with the other candidates is a sore point with many of those challengers, who appeared at a forum last Sunday in the CBS Studios commissary at an event sponsored by the Daily News and the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils.

One of the more active candidates is David Saltsburg, who is better known as Zuma Dogg, a City Hall gadfly who reinvented himself as a self-described watchdog and community activist.

Saltsburg sheds the Zuma Dogg persona, for the most part, at forums, but he can readily resort to it to make a point.

He has developed a following of sorts and has been able to use his campaign to get a number of television and radio interviews as well as the appearances at forums throughout the city.

Part of his campaign has been against Villaraigosa and what Zuma Dogg sees as the consolidation of power within the Mayor's Office.

"Do you trust this mayor with all this money?" he asked during one recent council meeting. "I sure don't."

His strength, he says, lies in what he has learned from traveling around the city and talking to people about what they care for and how they would like to see the city run.

Zuma Dogg said he is motivated by the teachings of W. Edward Deming, who helped rebuild post-World War II Japan and whose production techniques were later instituted by Ford Motor Co.