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Wesson steps down as City Council president

LOS ANGELES — After eight years as City Council president, Herb Wesson is stepping down and will be replaced by City Councilwoman Nury Martinez, who will become the first Latina council president in the city’s history. 

Wesson said he is stepping down as council president to focus on his campaign for county supervisor. He will continue serving on the city council until his term expires next December. 

“Serving Los Angeles as the first black council president and 10th District council member has been the honor of a lifetime,” Wesson said. “I’m so proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish as a unified council over the last eight years and have no doubt that the good governance that has helped to make Los Angeles the great city in the world will carry on under our next president.” 

At the Dec. 3 city council meeting, the council approved Wesson’s motion to remove him as president and replace him with Martinez. The council also voted Councilman Joe Buscaino as president pro tempor of the council. All votes were unanimous and will take effect Jan. 5. 

Wesson was elected council president in 2011 and has represented Council District 10 since 2005. During his time as president, Wesson helped lead the movement to raise the minimum wage. 

“I want to thank Council President Wesson and my City Council colleagues for their overwhelming support and partnership,” Martinez said. “I look forward to bringing a woman’s perspective and families-first agenda to the president’s chair, and working with my dedicated council colleagues and Mayor Garcetti to ensure resources, services and opportunities abound for Angelenos in all 15 council districts.”  

Martinez represents the Sixth Council District in the Northeast San Fernando Valley. When first elected in 2013 she was the only woman on the City Council. Today, she is one of two women on the 15-member council. Martinez served as assistant president pro-tempore and president pro-tempore in 2017 and 2018, respectively. During her time on council, Martinez also helped lead the efforts to raise the minimum wage, is a dedicated families-first advocate, and has her own “Green New Deal” agenda. 

As city council president, Martinez will hold many powerful responsibilities such as acting mayor when the mayor is out of town, assignments to city council committees and deciding power over when and how policy proposals are discussed at public meetings. 

Wesson’s departure as president signifies a new move in his political career. He has served the maximum three terms on the City Council and is seeking the seat on the county Board of Supervisors for the second district. The position is currently being held by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas who coincidentally will be running for Wesson’s seat next year. The primary election for both city and county positions will be held March 3. 

Wesson and his son, Herb Wesson III, were recently the subject controversy over the yonger Wesson’s rent. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, Wesson’s son received preferential treatment on his rent at a Koreatown apartment building while Wesson helped the building’s executives win approval of a controversial high-rise development

The councilman’s son went more than five years without a rent increase at the apartment building on Rosewood Avenue while other tenants had their rents increased, The Times reported. 

Wesson’s name also came up in an FBI investigation that began last year with the FBI seeking evidence of bribes, extortion and money laundering possibly involving city officials. 

The investigation came amid a rise in investment from outside companies interested in capitalizing in downtown Los Angeles real estate development. Several council members, including Wesson, continue to be under investigation. 

by Ashley Orona