After a distinguished and accomplished eight years serving as president of the Los Angeles City Council, last Wednesday, November 27, 2019 council president Herb Wesson announced his intention to step away from the presidency this January while he shifts his focus to his campaign to become the Los Angeles County 2nd District Supervisor and continues to serve the constituents of the 10th District for his remaining year as a councilmember.
In the motion announcing his intentions, Wesson also indicated his support for councilwoman and President Pro Tem Nury Martinez to lead the council, and Councilmember Buscaino to succeed Councilwoman Martinez as President Pro Tem.
Martinez was chosen by her colleagues on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 to become the next council president, making her the first Latina to be selected to the post.
“I want to thank Council President Wesson and my City Council colleagues for their overwhelming support and partnership,” Martinez said. “As the daughter of Mexican immigrants, it is not lost on me that in one of the most diverse cities in the world and the second-largest city in the nation, I will soon become the first Latina city council president in Los Angeles’ storied history.”
“Serving Los Angeles as the first Black Council President and 10th District Councilmember has been the honor of a lifetime,” said Wesson. “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 greatest city in the world will carry on under our next president.”
Wesson has led the government of the nation’s second largest city since 2012 in tandem with two mayors – 41st Mayor of L.A. Antonio Villaraigosa and current L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. Wesson is the longest serving City Council president since the legendary, John Ferraro.
Under Wesson’s leadership, the Los Angeles City Council has passed some of the most progressive public policy that has improved the lives of millions of Angelenos and often sparked similar actions in local and state governments across the country. Some of Wesson’s most significant accomplishments as council president include:
• Bringing nearly 1 million Angelenos out of poverty by raising the citywide minimum wage to $15 per hour and putting in new protections to L.A.’s working families.
• Confronting the epidemic of homelessness and housing facing Los Angeles, devising and championing the passage of Measure H and Proposition HHH and organizing an unprecedented pledge to build a minimum of 222 supportive housing units in each council district.
• Removing barriers to employment for the formerly arrested, convicted, and incarcerated through Ban the Box legislation.
• Starting the process to right the wrongs caused by the War on Drugs by creating the city’s Social Equity Program, a first-of-its-kind plan to reduce the barriers to ownership of commercial cannabis businesses for the people and communities most negatively impacted by marijuana arrests.
• Fighting for gender equality by closing the pay disparity in sports by requiring equal compensation for any competition featuring both male and female divisions taking place in Los Angeles and requiring a permit from the city.
• Diversifying the city’s leadership through moves like appointing Sharon Tso to become the city’s first woman Chief Legislative Analyst.
• Reforming the city’s campaign finance system by developing the implementation ordinance to Charter Amendment H which restricted contributions by city contractors and banned city Commissioners from being involved in city elected official campaigns; created the most robust matching funds program in the country with a 6:1 match for candidates; and will soon adopt an ordinance to restrict campaign contributions for developers and others involved in the planning process.
• Increasing voter engagement in local elections by consolidating city elections to increase voter turnout and create more a more representative local government.
• During a White House administration of hatred and divisiveness, stemming from the White House, commemorating the legacy of the nation’s first Black President, Barack Obama and a leader who embodied the ideals of hope and unity by renaming Rodeo Road to Obama Boulevard.
• Fighting against the Trump Administration’s discriminatory policies by creating a $10 million fund to provide legal assistance for Los Angeles residents facing deportation, hiring the city’s first-ever immigrant advocate, establishing the city’s Civil and Human Rights Commission, creating the first ever full-time policy committee dedicated to working on Immigrant Affairs, and passing a law that would change our zoning code to eliminate the construction and operation of private detention centers in the city of Los Angeles.
• Leveling the playing field for underprivileged Angeleno students by reducing the digital divide through programs like OurCycle LA and the City’s partnership with the 1Million Project.
• Unifying Angelenos and holding our institutions accountable with the embRACE LA initiative and in one of his final moves as council president, the proposal to create an Office of Racial Equity to make Los Angeles a city where every, no matter their background, are included and empowered to participate in civic life.
• Leading Los Angeles to adopt a plan to modernize the Los Angeles International Airport, a multi-billion-dollar effort which is the largest public works project in the city of Los Angeles. This ongoing project will improve security and safety, alleviate traffic and passenger congestion, and create thousands of jobs over the course of the project.
Wesson’s departure as council president will bring to a close another chapter in his historic career in Los Angeles civic life. Prior to serving as Los Angeles city councilman and council president, Wesson served as the 65th Speaker of the California State Assembly and the representative for what was then the 47th Assembly District. Prior to his elected service, he served as the chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor, Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and Los Angeles City’s 10th District Councilman, Nate Holden.