Empowerment Congress West Area Asks City Council to Upgrade Caretaker Heather Hutt to ‘Board Appointed Member’
Frustrated and disappointed that Council District 10 constituents lack a voting representative, the Empowerment Congress West Area (ECWA) Neighborhood Development Council approved sending a letter to Los Angeles City Council requesting that Heather Hutt be designated as the area’s “Board Appointed Member.”
The action occurred on August 15 during an ECWA meeting via Zoom where the majority of the board members voted in favor of Hutt’s appointment. Interestingly, even one board member who voted “no” stressed that the decision “was not about the person, but the process.”
The board member went on to state how they personally “liked Heather,” but didn’t believe that the letter reflected the opinion of the entire district. Still, the motion overwhelmingly passed with eight approvals, three abstentions and one disapproval.
Currently, Hutt serves as Caretaker of the district, an assignment announced on July 20 by Council President Nury Martinez. In this role, she is responsible for overseeing response to constituent inquiries and requests, managing budgetary matters affecting the district and directing administrative personnel and tasks.
However, Hutt’s appointment does not allow her to cast a vote in City Council on behalf of District 10 constituents – a situation that aggravates many of the approximately 250,000 people residing in CD 10. Through the letter, ECWA plainly outlines their viewpoint about this state of affairs.
“The constituents of Council District 10 should not remain disenfranchised during the ongoing legal challenges in our district. We demand qualified and experienced representation,” states the letter, alluding to lawsuit filed by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California and the recent action taken by Superior Court Judge Mary Strobel.
The dramatic saga leading to this point began last October when the City Council suspended Councilmember Mark Ridley-Thomas following his 20-count federal indictment alleging illegal activity during his tenure as a L.A. County Supervisor. Responding to constituents’ desire for a voting representative, Martinez appointed former Councilmember Herb Wesson to the position.
Wesson was approved by the City Council to serve either until the end of 2022 or leave earlier if Ridley-Thomas was acquitted. SCLC-SC objected by filing suit, insisting that Wesson was ineligible because he had already served three terms on the Council. Strobel agreed and issued a temporary restraining order preventing Wesson from serving as a voting CD 10 representative. A hearing on the matter is scheduled for this month.
“Should the Honorable Herb Wesson be barred from serving as a Board Appointed Member for Council District 10, we recommend that Chief of Staff and current Caretaker Heather Hutt be instated as the Board Appointed Member with full authority to attend committee meetings, make motions, and vote on behalf of the constituents of CD 10,” states the ECWA letter.
A longtime resident of CD 10, Hutt is well known to many constituents and possesses deep knowledge about the concerns affecting the district’s issues. Also, her work with the state and federal government has resulted in strong, established relationships with elected officials on all levels.
Most notably, she served as the state director for then-Senator and now Vice President Kamala Harris. Hutt was the first Black in this position in California’s history.
“Ms. Hutt is committed to serving the community and brings with her years of experience. Ms. Hutt understands our needs, knows our history, lives in the community and has the experience and integrity needed to represent CD 10,” noted the letter.
“The constituents of CD 10 will not be satisfied until we have a voting representative on the city Council,” the letter concluded.
The board of Empowerment Congress West Area Neighborhood Development Council consists of 15 elected and appointed members. The ECWA boundaries encompass Obama Boulevard on the north, Vernon Avenue on the south, Arlington Avenue on the east and La Cienega Boulevard on the west.